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Guard Markets: Crimex Show

by msecadm4921

Contract guarding companies are looking into new markets, a recent exhibition suggested. Mark Rowe reports.

The Crimex-Expo 07 at Leicester City Football Club had a range of security and crime prevention exhibitors, electronic and otherwise from CCTV manufacturers Dedicated Micros to property marking product firm Selectamark. The Royal Mail strike did not help – a planned mail shot may well have landed on East Midlands desks after the event. Given that Leicester City FC provided the venue free, doing their bit for organisers Leicestershire Police, it struck me why don’t other regions do something similar. It gave regional security firms a showcase, besides the ADTs of this world – ADT being a sponsor and having a CCTV demonstration vehicle parked outside the Walkers Stadium.

Work

Another sponsor was Leicester-based guarding contractor Premier Security Services. Past years I have spoken to Premier’s Managing Director Andrew Hallam, but he was called away. Instead I spoke to another director, Gary Sheffield, 18 years in the industry. While Premier’s work has been based on distribution centres – its first contract was for healthfood retailer Holland & Barrett’s warehouse, in Burton-on-Trent – he reports work also at libraries, especially in the early evenings, and schools. Key-holding has been a growth area, he added, and offering good value for money from the point of view of client and guarding company. He said: "We have saved our customers considerable amounts of money by combining technology with the human element. At some locations you cannot remove the human element, but you can make savings. For example, one of our customers had five guards, and we reduced that to town, and complemented the other areas with technology." And, bear in mind, that the security service is as good, if not better, and the client having saved perhaps tens of thousands of pounds is that much more willing to pay the guards more.

Right direction

Gary Sheffield made the point that electronic security – whether CCTV, access control or alarms – is only fully effective if it is monitored. Otherwise, you have technology telling you the next day what has gone wrong. Overall, he sees the industry going in the right direction – improved training, and technology. SIA licences are part of that right direction, though like others he questions whether the licensing regime has been policed properly.

Rural patrols

Also exhibiting was Leicestershire-based Duval Security, which also has a northern office in Bolton. Among staff at the stand were Scott Taylor, business development manager, and Sarah Whelband, customer services manager. They too spoke of seeing a market in providing security for schools; and mobile patrols for rural areas. Duval is based near the M1 but in the country south of Leicester, so is well placed to appreciate that farmers as lone workers may be vulnerable to vandalism and theft of expensive machinery. As Scott Taylor said: "It isn’t the place where you would have a manned guard doing a 12-hour shift." But there could be scope for vehicle patrols, or use of CCTV for personal safety, perhaps if farming bodies came together to look for such a service. Duval have signed up to ContractorPlus, a web-based database of contractors whose health and safety standards have been vetted; and to Constructionline, a directory of UK construction contractors and consultants, owned by the Department of Trade and Industry. Duval, and Premier Security Services, are SIA approved.

Video analytics

Kent-based CCTV installers ic2 were showing video analytics, working with Videalert (www.videalert.com). Video content analysis, as ic2 sales and marketing manager Gary Smith put it, is ‘buzzy’. As for complaints that video analysis sellers have over-promised and under-delivered, he pointed to a case from a London borough where video analysis was added to CCTV in a subway, to provide alerts if people halted for a suspiciously long time. While some alerts turned out to be innocent, people making mobile phone calls for instance, other alerts might be drug deals.

Personal protection

And John Worthington of Cambridge-based Walkeasy described what he feels is an overlooked side of security – personal protection products. Users of his products range from estate agents to care homes. A DNA personal alarm spray won the most innovative aerosol product award at the European Aerosols Federation meeting in Manchester in September, beating L’Oreal tanning products. That spray lets of a 138 decibel alarm while spraying DNA molecules with ultraviolet particles so that police with a UV light can identify offenders. Each can is unqiuely bar-coded on the base. The product is also in property marking form; in a lacquer, that investigators can take a swab or a scraping of. Again, each use has a different DNA code. Other products include Wrist-Mate, that can be mounted by Velcro to your wrist, like a watch; or handlebars; or walking frame. That means if you are attacked, you have both hands free, better allowing you to buy time with the product. By contrast, the usual cord-operated screeching personal attack alarm occupies both your hands – though at least you can press it towards an attacker, in the hope of the noise buying some time. Other exhibitors included Leicester-based installers Secure One; Birmingham-based installers Contract Fire and Security; and property marking product firm Mark-It.

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