Keep your guard up
March 2018, This Week's Editor's Pick, Security Services & Risk Management, Training & Education
It has been said before and it is worth saying it again: securing businesses, organisations and estates requires a strategic combination of people and technology. The crux of a successful human guarding element is careful selection of the ‘right’ personnel and competence through appropriate and adequate training.
Dave Casey, MD of Beagle Watch, says that his company’s guarding service is aimed at niche markets where clients are willing to pay more so that security officers may earn more. “We have a transparent model where the client determines the salary of the officer. This is generally well above statutory requirements. Our cost then includes additional training, which is aimed at a customised service delivery with quality control and management support.”
The guarding industry is very price sensitive and in most cases, cost is the only consideration, Casey points out. However, in order to deliver quality service it is necessary to invest in training, retraining and, most importantly, site-specific training.
“Too many guarding contracts lack site-specific requirements, which means that the security officer does what he thinks he should do. The client, on the other hand, has expectations and requirements which the security officer knows nothing about. The situation is complex; service can only be improved if clients are prepared to pay more for better service. We are of the opinion that the perception of security officers is a reflection on the management of the company deploying them. Hence, if you do not train them you cannot blame them. Unfortunately the cut- throat nature of the market makes it difficult, if not impossible, to improve the perception unless clients are prepared to pay for the training,” says Casey.
Capability and supervision
Ockie Fourie, MD of Omega Risk Solutions, says that in the past many clients used security officers simply because their insurance required this and therefore some security companies deployed a security officer who lacked a proper job description, supervision or any tools to execute his duties. “Since our security officers play such an integral part in our customers’ business processes as well as in the safeguarding of the client’s property and employees, we have a different approach. Detailed job descriptions are given to each security officer on each post, with a clear standard operating procedure of how these duties need to be executed.”
He adds that daily supervision, on-the-job training and job observations are performed to ensure that officers are well acquainted with their tasks and these tasks are constantly carried out as expected by all stakeholders. Tasks vary from using mobile scanning devices to confirm and record access and egress to and from premises, searching of vehicles and persons, recoding of equipment and stock entering or leaving the premises, and verification on seals and locks.
Fourie says that during the shifts, officers also play an integral part in the health and safety aspects on site, such as inspection of emergency equipment and reporting of unsafe acts or conditions. Officers are also trained in first aid and firefighting and are therefore able to assist in emergency situations. Officers on patrols are monitored via live tracking devices which are placed at high-risk areas. On residential estate sites, officers assist in the inspection of buildings sites to ensure the compliance of contractors with the estate’s rules and regulations.
Fourie’s colleague, Andre Eckard – GM of the company’s training academy – says that security officers typically play a vital role in terms of access control, which, in many cases, is the most vulnerable point in a business or residential area. The main focus is to give access to visitors, contractors and residents, using recognised access control systems, scanning devices and communication systems between the security checkpoint, the host and the visitor.
He acknowledges that dayshifts are normally rather busy but that security officers often sleep during night shifts due to low volumes of activities at the access points. Omega decided to capitalise on these lower activity times to provide refresher training or on-the-job training on site procedures or instructions. These are also accompanied by brain stimulation exercises to keep security officers awake. He adds that the rotation of security officers to different posts and shifts also plays a vital role in their successful achievement of goals.
Training is the differentiator
Training is indeed the largest differentiator in services offered by guarding companies. Casey says that the company’s security officers receive a month’s induction training and ongoing refresher training. Most importantly, specialised on-site training is undertaken on an ongoing basis and each site has detailed instructions of the site and client requirements.
Omega’s security officers undergo a PSiRA evaluation at the company’s training academy to verify competence in the specific PSiRA grade. Officers then undergo Omega-specific induction training at the academy to ensure understanding of the company and processes within the company. Specific site induction training is then provided to officers before deployment to the customer’s site.
On-the-job training is conducted on a daily basis with officers at the different posts by management, supervisory staff and training instructors. Officers are formally assessed and training needs are then identified and scheduled. The company’s supervisory personnel also undergo formal Omega Shift Leader and Supervisor courses to develop and assist them in executing their supervisory roles.
Eckard says that residential or corporate park security officer training includes skills transfer in customer care, risk identification, conflict management, estate rules and enforcement thereof, site inspections and monitoring, as well as emergency procedures including basic firefighting and first aid.
“Certain estates require by-law enforcement, which includes the issuing of fines and peace officer training. Specialised training in firefighting, first aid, hot work standby, dog handling, driver competence and self-defence are presented at Omega’s training centres.”
Beagle Watch’s sites use enabling technologies that include remote CCTV surveillance, live security officer monitoring systems, remote panic buttons (which operate anywhere on the client site) and two-way radio communications. In addition, security officers are supported by the company’s armed response teams and management teams, which are on duty 24/7.
Similarly, Omega makes use of active patrol devices – linked to 24/7 manned control centres – such as panic button devices, body cameras, supervisory cameras in the guard houses, RF point tracking and tracker systems for small movable assets, smart mobile devices to conduct inspections and specified tasks, thermal handheld cameras, as well as scanning devices for access and egress control.
Vetting and pre-employment screening is critical when employing security officers for the guarding function. Previous employer checks, together with criminal and credit checks, are undertaken. These checks continue after employment to provide peace of mind to clients. Criminal checks, conducted by an in-house team, include arrest warrants for which there are currently no convictions. “The credit checks performed through credit bureaus provide us with some insight into the current financial status of potential security officers. This is important given the fact that those who are struggling financially may be more susceptible to approaches by criminals to enter into collusion,” says Casey.
Fourie says that all candidates undergo scientific and psychometric evaluations. These include integrity assessments that may identify potential detrimental behaviour, and a profiling process to determine compatibility with the requirements of a specific position. “We believe that incompetent personnel create opportunities for dishonest personnel. This is sobering, considering that enterprises across the world annually lose huge sums of money because of white collar crimes such as theft and fraud, substance abuse, truancy and resultant disciplinary investigations.”
Omega integrity assessment and profiling services introduce a proactive approach towards selecting personnel who are not only competent and effective, but who also have the integrity and dedication required to help in building a successful company. All screening processes are designed to predict a candidate’s future behaviour and Omega typically achieves this through psychological assessments and by evaluating the candidate’s past behaviour.
Pre-employment criminal record verification and post-employment verification, on an annual basis, is done via fingerprint scanning at Omega, with accurate results produced within 24 hours. Candidates are also tested for language proficiency, computer literacy, communication skills as well as cognitive ability.
Beagle Watch customises its services to suit client requirements, with additional services including warehouse security, on-site CCTV monitoring, incident investigation, and access control. Turnkey security solutions are offered to complexes.
Omega Risk Solutions offers a full portfolio of services that include CCTV operators and offsite monitoring services; technology evaluations, designs, provision and maintenance of systems; fire officers and management; risk surveys; security consultants on specific projects; industry and other related accredited training; armed response; investigations; special event security; armed escort duties; VIP protection and VIP drivers; screening and vetting of personnel; undercover operations; warehouse and depot management; crowd control; stock control and verification; health and safety related training and drafting of emergency plans.