COVID CRISIS – Operating security in a pandemic
A virus which has damaged industries and businesses, how has this virus changed the security industry? [OPINION]
Running any business has been a challenge during these unprecedent times, it has been a challenge both physically and of course mentally. Three lockdowns within a year has really affecting hospitality and retails sectors amongst others. Why would this affect the security industry?
As a director and a business owner of a Facilities Management company based in Bristol, I now sit back and write how this COVID-19 crisis has affected me and my company, as well as explore the ways we have changed the way we conduct our services, in a bid to protect our clients, as well as the general public. But I want to mainly talk about the Security Industry mainly.
I think it’s cliché to say I miss the events side of security, as much as event goers miss actually going to events. I’m not even referring to big events such as Glastonbury or Reading festivals. I’m talking about corporate events. September 2020 it was a strange feeling not being able to reach out to my clients who I have successfully provided Events Security personnel to. Christmas is always a great time to provide door supervisors to, there is no shortage of opportunities to get involved with new and existing clients. To provide security staff to secure their events. By much surprise, the increase volume in receiving emails or even a phone call from a new potential customer occurs during September to November. This is of course due to the establishments needing temporary security to carry out their events. It is by no means easy to secure; business is of course competitive.
It is of course important to reflect that during last quarter of the year, events also provides security personnel additional wages, which to some becomes vital.
We (the public) had managed to shop within “non essential” retail during the temporary lift of lockdowns before Christmas. We blinked, and suddenly non essential stores were forced to close. There is a strong linkage of the time of year there’s a bolster in security services (as previously discussed) that’s the last quarter, or as retail jargon the “Golden Quarter”. From a director of a security company perspective, it’s a crucial time of year for retail security services, as well as the successful sales of the retailers themselves. Whether it be additional security, or longer hours to support the extensions of trading hours.
It’s by no surprise the retail sector has shaped itself in a way to support our retailer in a pandemic environment, from a security perspective it has come with it challenges. Facemask’s.
We must reflect the challenges this has brought about, ensuring that customers who have entered the store are wearing their facemasks. Who are we to determine who should be wearing facemask’s and who aren’t? It can create public relation disasters, something both parties wish to avoid. Although its mandated by law to wear facemasks, people are still exempt. How do we ensure customers who are entering are exempt or not? This is a highly important topic to be discussed individually to the retailers or our case (clients). A topic which clarity was rare when facemasks become legal from the government. To both abide by the new legislation and of course the Equality Act 2010. There is now of course Face mask exemption cards.
FIRST LOCKDOWN – I remember very well when England first went into lockdown, two days before it was announced, I started a mobile round during the day for a supermarket chain*. This was a counter-measure response to concerns of the panic buying, and potential looting/rioting. I remember thinking will this be the new norm? It’s requirement quickly eased off, as the response from the general public was the contrary to what was expected. It was however for all intents and purposes successful and crucial, by both being a deterrent and providing reassurance to the retail workers.
*I want to protect my clients portfolio so I will not mention exact names.
Providing security to hotel chains were a huge hit for Myriad Facilities Group, for most part it provided 30% of our revenue services to. Unfortunately due to the lockdowns and closure of hospitality, the need for security service as a result has been significantly reduced.
It was and is however, great to implement new procedures with the client’s. Something which neither party had experience in dealing with. Social distancing procedures, and one way systems were always interesting to explore. Still providing a service to our clients remotely. I have had the opportunity to work physically on the front line for one of our clients. Safely behind a plastic see-through board, whilst wearing a facemask for 14 hours during the night, operating the reception. It is of course the safety side which I felt more passionate about, protecting the client, the public/customers and of course my staff.
As any company, it is first and foremost to protect their staff, from health assessments, risk assessments, providing PPE and now in todays world. Protecting staff against COVID-19.
It is with considerable grief, males working within the security industry were one of the highest in terms of sector deaths. As published by the ONS (The Office for National Statistics). The statistics relates to a high death rate within the security sector. The statistics categorise this is in as “lowest skilled occupations”
“Compared with the rate among people of the same sex and age in England and Wales, men working in elementary occupations had the highest rate of death involving COVID-19, with 39.7 deaths per 100,000 men (421 deaths); of the specific elementary occupations, men working as security guards had the highest rate, with 74.0 deaths per 100,000 (104 deaths).”- [CREDIT SOURCE – ONS]
Age-standardised mortality rates of death involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in England and Wales, by major occupational group, deaths registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020 – IMAGE CREDIT – ONS
There are of course other statistics and data which needs to be reflected. Security Industry and Security Services cover many different sectors, which means front line security guards are very much exposed to the COVID-19 threat from all angles.
Many reasons determine the causes of why Security Personnel are contracting COVID-19 and unfortunately becoming victims to the horrid deadly diseases can be summarised by the following.
|Range of Sectors||The security industry cover a huge range of sectors.||Security is conducted in every sector you can think of. As a result Security Guard's are more exposed overall. Whether it is in a hospital, hotel, retail store, or on a reception desk in an office.|
|Aging Workforce||COVID-19 is often more severe in people who are older than 60 years or who have health conditions like lung or heart disease, diabetes or conditions that affect their immune system.||If we collect the data for security licensed personnel, and analysis it for 55+. It collates to a total of 74,480 security licenses granted, between ages of 55-93. That collates to 21% of the total of licensed personnel.|
|BAME Workforce||A review found by PHE (Public Health England) review found that the highest age standardised diagnosis rates of COVID-19 per|
100,000 population were in people of Black ethnic groups (486 in females and 649 in
males) and the lowest were in people of White ethnic groups (220 in females and 224
|With restricted data from the SIA. 30% of license holders were from holders those of not British. British was broadly defined. However we can compare this to be 1/3 of the entire license holders.|
|Job Role||Working in certain sectors may require close contact.||As a result security personnel will more likely be subject to contagion.|
“We must at all cost protect our front-line workers, and reduce the number of deaths for our licensed staff from COVID-19. Create a safe space for our workers, and halt this deadly disease” – Callum Parsons, MD at Myriad Facilities Group.
As with all markets, we are continuing adapting as the days continue. Shaping our services, and also tailoring our costs. “It was always a concern of mine, that our services during the lockdowns did not take advantage of the current economic climate and impacts.”
During the first lockdown, I received a call to for a quote for an educational premises, for the service of Mobile Security and Key Holding. I knew this would be extremely competitive, it was also challenging even more, due to wanting to charge at the time, a reasonable price. Who knows, who’s quoting what. It was exceptionally important for us, we did not reflect a company which was “over-profiting”
We fully expect a hit to the security sector, as corporations and companies will ultimately cut costs. As such expenses like security are always “cuttable”.
However, during this pandemic, we can other our services which can be cost affective, valuable for money. Importantly securing your business in a 2021 manner.
Mobile security is becoming a main focus for Myriad Facilities Group. Based in Bristol, our mobile security and key holding is gently expanding. Mobile Security offers huge advantages, especially in a pandemic environment. You can view the advantages of Mobile Security here. (A new blog regarding void properties will be published soon). Premises are under constant threat, particularly premises currently closed to lockdowns. Empty units, are extremely high targets for the current trend of illegal raves. Mobile services offers minimal face to face contact, whilst providing an affective security strategy.
Construction industry is one which is proving currently to be stable. Our current risk assessments allow safe working environments not only for the nature of the premises, but for our staff working on sites which have other workers on site.
Thank you for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. I hope I have brought about awareness of the impacts both companies and staff have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, within the security sector. I wish everyone good health and stays safe. And look forward to a world free of Coronavirus and of course lockdowns.
Categorised in: Analysis
This post was written by Callum Parsons