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About EPIC

by msecadm4921

In an occasional series, Mark Rowe runs the rule over industry bodies, starting with EPIC.

In a recent ASIS UK newsletter, Patricia Knight, a former chairman of the UK branch of the association, bemoaned member apathy that meant only a fraction of members ever attend seminars or social events. She wrote: "The situation pervades throughout the industry. There are a small number of people who do everything; they give their time, energy and often funds because they believe that the industry is w orth working for. It certainly needs working on." She might have added that, to be fair, this gulf – between a handful of hard workers that keep associations going and the majority that merely turn up or do not even take the trouble to belong to an industry body – is true in most walks of life. That said, what is out there for the (busy and ambitious) security manager who wishes to catch up with people in the same boat as him, and learn and network, from a wider pool of people than he can hope to meet in his workplace? What’s available changes over time. Recently launched by Mike Tennent of Tavcom Training and consultant Martin Kane was the International Security Network (www.isn.uk.com) for those interested in electronic security, from the installation engineer to the security adviser.

Closer

In May the International Institute of Security (IISec) and Security Institute (SyI) reported that they were in ‘exploratory talks about a closer affiliation’. A joint statement to this effect was issued by John Rose (chairman, IISec) and Bill Wyllie (chairman, SyI) to the membership of both organisations. Provided the members of both bodies agree, Professional Security understands that ‘closer affiliation’ means merger around the end of the year.

Ex-Police in Commerce

As reported in our December 2006 issue, EPIC is widening its net as an association for former and retired UK police officers now in private security, or the private sector generally. After a recent change in its constitution EPIC is open to membership also from ex-: British Transport Police, the Isle of Man Constabulary, the States of Jersey Police, the Guernsey Police, the Garda Sochana, and the Royal Hong Kong Police. It’s also for retired police officers with a police pension, or a medical or deferred pension. So membership is quite specific. But from attending a recent quarterly meeting, I can say that the Commerce part of EPIC’s name matters more than the Ex-Police. As their website puts it, EPIC members ‘can provide a solution to most security problems’. This is not a group of people swapping yarns about the old days; rather men (it is mainly men, we will come back to that later) in the commercial swim. In a coffee break for instance I was talking with someone about vetting and screening; that person spoke of over the years finding that five per cent of people are, when you do checks, bogus – whether claiming to have a degree and not, or being a bigamist! Indeed, that ex-police are so in the thick of their second careers is proving a problem for the group. It is noticeable that members who attend the meetings are in the main consultants or self-employed, or running their own business rather than corporate security managers. That is not to imply that consultants are filling in time between rounds of golf; rather, that they are able to control their time and give up time for EPIC and keep in touch with the office by mobile phone if they need to. The security or contract guarding managers find it harder to take time off to attend a meeting – the better part of a working day when you include travel time. To repeat, EPIC has a range of people who were of all ranks. I well recall a comment from the first member of EPIC that I met, Rod Repton (ex-Derbyshire) who remarked to the effect that he had never worked harder. This is not to imply that Rod didn’t work hard as a police officer! but shows the special motivation to make a success of your own business. Like Trevor Barton (ex-Greater Manchester) Rod has set up his own investigations-consultancy- training company. Without wanting to get too sentimental, such men are giving work to others and as a new set-up are new blood in the economy. At random (with closed eyes) from the EPIC website’s directory (www.epic-uk.com), Devon members include Tom Happer and John Rigbey of the West of England Detective Agency in Plymouth; and forensic investigator Joseph Furneaux-Gotch. While questions persist among police about where the police are going on training – to put it another way, whether police are being de-skilled – the suspicion lurks that EPIC holds more experience – in driving, fraud detection, evidence gathering, to name three – than current police forces. Attending an EPIC morning meeting – members from far afield can stay overnight at the hotel – once in the meeting room it’s quite a formal affair. Most people are in suits and ties, EPIC committee men sit at a table facing members. There are speakers: in January for instance Pat Meaney the UK man for digital recorder manufacturer Comvision, whose provocative message was that IT is the future of the security industry.

Male

Where EPIC like other industry bodies scores is that any security person, whether a one-man band or not, can find themselves out of the loop. At a meeting, they catch up with the news, and plug in again to the camaraderie of a shared background. If there is a quibble, it’s that the meeting was largely a male affair. This is not to imply that EPIC is unwelcoming to women. Quite the opposite; it is a reflection of how the police force remains a mainly male affair, although this is changing (as reflected in private security). How police and private security – with long and unsociable hours – can attract women to the work that, without wanting to sound sexist, sometimes cries out for a woman’s touch – is arguably the issue for the protective industries. EPIC makes the effort to be welcoming to members: its 2007 meetings are in the Home Counties, the Midlands and Leeds. This is a refreshing contrast to industry bodies that meet solely in London or don’t go any further north than the Met Police social club in Hertfordshire. Skills for Security to its credit runs annual conferences in November in Glasgow and Belfast besides England, and since SITO days the English conference has been in Birmingham or (as this year) Oxford, that is, somewhat in the middle of the country. However I struggle to think of any security organisation that has put anything on in Tyne and Wear, apart from the Security Industry Authority setting up its call centre there. The industry bodies no doubt would say that they would love to run events in such regions, but someone has to arrange the events, to draw enough people to make events (social or work-related) worthwhile, a chicken and egg situation that takes us back to Patricia Knight’s comments; where we began.

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