News Archive

Inside The Gherkin

by msecadm4921

First Security, the manned guarding company, reports that it has extended services provided to 30 St Mary Axe – better known as The Gherkin – to include the mailroom and delivery bay.

The City of London-based guard firm report that it’s part of the management’s strategy to include both elements as a function of security rather than administration.

First Security officers have been on site for more than two years, having won the initial contract in competitive tender while the building was still being completed. The Gherkin’s main tenant is the UK head office of Swiss Re Reinsurance Company.

The decision to outsource responsibility for the mailroom and delivery bay was taken by Richard Stead, Property Services Director of 30 St Mary Axe Management Services, as part of a wider security review. It was his opinion, shared by his colleagues in the property management team, Jimmy Demetriou and Steve Browne, that both areas should fall under the security remit. Richard says: “The mailroom within the building is effectively an enormous post box. With many of our tenants sharing the same postcode, The Royal Mail delivers huge amounts of post every day, all of which has to be scanned and checked for suspicious packages prior to being ‘delivered’ to the tenants’ own mailroom staff (for those that have them) for distribution, or directly to the customers’ floor. There is no franking of mail or photocopying, or any of the ‘traditional’ activities associated with mailroom service providers, and as part of our review, we saw the mailroom as a potential weak spot in an otherwise robust security strategy. We discussed the matter with First Security, and they came back to us with a series of recommendations as to how we could enhance our operational procedures. They were able to demonstrate work they had performed for other clients, and after benchmarking their service with the incumbent, First Security was appointed.”

The security staff in the mailroom and loading bay are also responsible for managing the army of couriers and deliveries that arrive every day, including for retailers, and restaurant and bars. Jimmy who is responsible for the day to day provision of the service, says: “As with any new contract, we had some teething difficulties at the beginning. Some of our tenants wanted to know why we had changed from a ‘specialist’ in mailroom services to a ‘specialist’ in security, but with the processes now fine-tuned our tenants have been quick to realise the benefits.”

First reports that its officers have worked at the Gherkin since 2004, providing security on a 24-7 basis. Responsibilities include ‘conventional’ duties such as physical security, staffing the building control centre and CCTV monitoring, besides manning the main reception out of hours, and providing security at Bury Street where the property management team is based. Officers are having to deal firmly – but politely – with tourists wishing to look inside. No major incidents are reported. One of Richard’s first moves when he arrived in February 2005 was to move towards a ‘softer’ security ‘face’: out went the high visibility jackets and radios, in came jackets and ties. A new Security Contract Manager, Danny Moody, was drafted in to work alongside the Operations Manager Mark Telford. Richard adds: “I have been very satisfied with the work that First Security has been doing for us. When I arrived, First Security was the incumbent and although an approved supplier, I had no direct experience of them. I am pleased to say that they work with us in accommodating our needs, and we, in turn, listen to their suggestions and recommendations so that we work well together.”

Commenting on the relationship, Jonathan Levine, Managing Director of First Security adds: “I am delighted with the way my team has responded at every stage of this contract. The responsibility of a security officer today is very different from that of 10 or even five years ago, and increasingly our customers are seeing the value that our people can bring to all elements of their property management strategy.”

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