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Seal On Teesport Successes

by msecadm4921

Denis Murphy is the Middlesbrough-based chief police officer at Teesport – the ports of Tees and Hartlepool – and group security manager for PD Ports, the private owner of ports from the Isle of Wight to the Tees. He talked about the two roles and much else to Mark Rowe.

While Denis Murphy and I were standing at the back of the police launch on the River Tees, Denis broke off from what he was saying to point at some seals, making for the river bank. Whereas other rivers like the Thames have passed from industrial and docking to leisure use – and the docklands have left built-up London for Tilbury and beyond – the Tees remains a working river. Clean enough, mind you, to support fish – and seals that eat fish. No riverside apartments or wine bars here; rather petrochemical and potash works, a tanker discharging gas, Hartlepool nuclear power station on the north bank, and the recycling of vessels, such as old North Sea oil platforms, cut into pieces for scrap, some for export. “This job is just so diverse,” Denis smiled. “It keeps you on your toes.” No two ports are the same. Teesport sees bulk goods, and containers, stacked in their primary colours up to five high. The port has few if any passengers; there is a daily P&O freight ferry to and from Zeebrugge, and three sailings a week to and from Rotterdam, mainly of unaccompanied traffic. <br><br>Denis began as a boy soldier and went into the military police and ended as a major. “When I left that I worked in contract security as a contract manager for the Corps of Commissionaires for a couple of years.” He was based in the north east to run a Territorial Army (TA) company in the early 1990s. He liked the region and stayed; and has been in his current post for more than 11 years. He’s a fellow of the Security Institute; and has a master’s degree in security and risk management from the University of Leicester. I put it to him that I didn’t know how people managed to do the MSc besides everything else. Denis answered that when he left the Army he joined the TA and was used to working every other weekend and Wednesday evening. By the time he had started the masters he had finished in the TA, and just took that time for study. “I really enjoyed it,” he said of the MSc. “I made some good friends on the course at Leicester. People that I still talk to now. I picked up some good advice.” Ollie Hardy, Denis’ training man, is still in the TA, and likewise Paul Grainge, Denis’ security co-ordinator, served in Iraq while in the TA (and Teesport’s harbour police) and did training of the Iraqi port police in the British zone in the southern oil city of Basra. <br><br>Denis said: “There are seven private port police forces in the country. We work as an association; and we are trying to get legislation in place to give us an extended jurisdiction so if we are dealing with a crime that was committed on and affects the port, we can deal with it nationally. At the moment our jurisdiction is limited to two miles outside the port, which actually covers most of the Cleveland Police area, because the Port of Tees and Hartlepool is so big. So we work very closely with the Home Office forces. I recruit, train, give the uniforms, buy the cars, the radios; we run the same radios as all the other police forces; but we don’t have anything like CID.” <br><br>As for his 37-strong guard force, that he brought in-house, he said: “Should in-house be licenced? Absolutely. Because we are doing the same job as anyone else, why shouldn’t our guys get the same licence at the end of it?” As group security man for PD Ports, the Canadian-owned company, Denis does not have security officers at any other site other than the Tees; at the other sites, such as Immingham, Hull, Billingham and Scunthorpe, Denis provides advice, and will do security surveys; if those sites need manned guarding, contract security will tend to be chosen. So it’s not that Denis is anti-contract guarding. “There’s a place for the contract security guards but there is also a place for in-house.” In-house, he suggests, can bring workforce stability, and guards can develop skills and move within the wider company. For example; two guards have moved on to become police officers; and when the recession bit, Denis took on a number of people from the docks and trained them as security officers. “One or two have gone back now to being dockers; but they have a much broader understanding of security, so we have eyes and ears on the ground, so our message is getting out there.” How to spread the security message to the majority of non-security staff – Teesport has about 500 staff, making it a major employer in the proud but recession-hit north east – is a topic for any head of security. Another topic that Denis shares with other security heads: how to do security and make it relevant with other commercial imperatives, such as business continuity and health and safety. Denis mentioned that the company is in the throes of recruiting a business continuity manager, having gained BS 25999 – ‘the first port in the country’ – the British Standard for business continuity management; Lynsey Pickering who worked towards the standard having moved to another BCM job. It struck me that all the (bad?) publicity before Christmas of Heathrow Airport shut because of deep snow focused on passengers unable to holiday in the sun; what of the freight? If you were waiting for parts or jewels flown into London, how did your business manage? There was pride in Denis’ voice when he said: “We kept open all the way through the ice and snow. We didn’t lose any customer days at all. We have our own internal team, our own salters. We bought snow ploughs and fitted them to the front of our port vehicles.” Besides, the dockside potash works is where Cleveland’s council road salt spreaders collect their salt. If roads to that site are blocked, the county does not get gritted. Denis said: “We broke our business continuity into three key functions: port operations, letting ships in and out again; dock operations, loading and unloading; and our portcentric logistics – having unloaded ships, let’s get it to our customers.” Large business continuity statements are on many of the port’s office walls. Denis stressed how BCM is closely linked with security; while, as he agreed, people might think of BCM as a response to the likes of a Lockerbie or a 9-11 disaster, it’s more than that – it’s what if a ship sinks. It’s what ifs. That takes in airport security’s MATRA (Multi-Agency Threat and Risk Assessment) – including Teesport speaking with the local Durham Tees Valley Airport. <br><br>As a sign of how closely security is linked to safety – ‘SAFETY IS NO ACCIDENT’ shout the signs around the place – Denis’ link to the board used to be through the MD; now Denis reports to Russ McCallion, group HR director, whose responsibilities include safety, policing and security and environmental matters, besides human resources. As I suggested to Denis, at a port, as elsewhere, the security guard may be the one that gets the call about a slip or fall? The induction video that visitors watch before they enter the site imposes on people – including interviews with Denis Murphy and Russ McCallion – how safety comes first. Denis told me: “Loading ships is different every time and it’s dangerous every time, so the safety culture, safety first, is the most important thing in this business,” Denis in fact had just come from a management meeting, talking about the past month and planning for the next. Denis meets safety managers regularly. <br>Earlier, before I visited Teesport’s CCTV control room, I watched (and signed that I had watched) the induction video for visitors. It took the viewer through the security and safety set-up: the CCTV control room; a member of staff accessing the football stadium-style turnstiles with their pass; a searcher climbing into a driver’s cab; and with a hand-held ‘wand’ checking a man. The threat changes, the video said; it might not be something international like terrorism; it might be theft, or criminal damage. Denis said on the video: “For anybody in the security industry, terrorism is the ultimate crime, and if we can work towards the prevention of terrorism it can help with the prevention of all crime.” (As Denis said later, the industrial harbour began in the mid-19th century and the harbour police in 1904 to counter pilfering, As for a 21st century, Mumbai-style terrorist attack, that has been considered, Denis confirmed; and the harbour police co-operate on counter-terrorism with Cleveland Police. And on an afternoon tour of Teesport by road, I see blue-helmeted UK Border Agency staff x-raying a lorry trailer with an n-shaped scanner that runs over the static lorry.) But the video made plain the safety rules. No children on site; no dogs; no smoking. Keep to a 20mph speed limit. If you are on foot, wear a high-visibility jacket and helmet (colour coded to show first-aiders and so on). Don’t day-dream – there are trains and cranes about. If you are involved in an accident, report it immediately on the local-code emergency number. The video took you through the site alarms, whether safety or security-related. If the fire alarm (the usual bell sound) goes off, go at once to the nearest fire assembly point. If a toxic alert – such as a gas leak, the warning sound being a pow-pow-pow – get indoors as soon as possible. Green ‘containment area’ signs are on walls of buildings to shelter in. In that case, stay until the all-clear siren goes. And if you hear the emergency siren wail, get off site as quickly as possible, following the yellow arrows; and give a lift to anyone on foot you see. The CCTV control room has static and PTZ cameras. Some run on the Octar digital recording system (from Visual Security Systems), some on the Pelco DX8000 recorder. Typically a static camera is fixed on a terminal entrance, to identify vehicle registration plates. While Teesport like other ports and indeed airports has a long perimeter – it has more than 800 acres – it does have the advantage of not having neighbouring housing. So if intruders did approach the fence-line, let alone get in, they would stick out. Also one advantage of long-standing staff – a good proportion being with Denis as long as he’s been there – is that CCTV operators can spot if something looks out of place. Similarly, CCTV is a tool to spot if anyone looks like cutting corners on safety, for whatever reason. An operator in the CCTV control room is partly there in case of a breach of safety – and the operator will see incidents occasionally, as happens anywhere there are human workers who can do stupid things. <br><br>Teesport, like the north east, has had to adapt. The demise of Teesside Cast Products (TCP) in the district affected the port; likewise another staple, the importing of cars, has suffered in the recession. Teesport can point to success with its ‘portcentric’ logistics. In other words, it says to companies, base your depot here, we will work with you. Hence Asda and Tesco have huge warehouses, and Taylors of Harrogate bring in their tea and coffee. The port is hopeful that steelmaking at TCP will re-start, and they have ambitious plans to develop the land, and indeed the waterway to allow larger ships to come in. Denis pointed out that, while Teesport is the fourth largest in the country by volume, seeing 6000 ship movements a year and 50m tonnes of cargo, millions of tonnes destined for the north of England and Scotland actually enters the UK through southern ports. One can see an element of competition with the likes of Southampton and Tilbury. Where does security come in? It changed, as Denis said, in 2001; and he mentioned also the boat attack on the USS Cole in the Red Sea in 2000. The International Maritime Organization (IMO, was quick – in terms of global trade standard-setting bodies – to bring in the ISPS (International Ship and Port Security) code as a result of 9-11. The United States was keen to make such standards happen, and it was for each nation – in the UK the transport security part of the Department for Transport, Transec – to apply the IMO rules to themselves. Ports and shipping lines have to risk-assess, and train staff, and carry out exercises. Hence the role of the PFSO (Port Facility Security Officer). A port’s PFSO is responsible for liaison with ships, maintaining a pass system for people on site, searches, and patrols. For some years the list of PFSO trainers has been on the Transec website. Without wishing to point any fingers, how do you know if one is better than another or if all are to a standard? Are they specialists in maritime security; or maritime trainers, or security world trainers? Where is the educational accreditation – for one thing, if you take the course, how (if at all) does it fit with any other security qualification, academic or otherwise, on your CV? What are employers to make of it? Teesport, having attended some of these courses, Denis recalled, decided to work with their local, Teesside University. Denis explained that Teesport sought the kudos – of a qualification with a UK university’s name on the certificate, which would be internationally recognised, important for a port sector that sends and receives vessels worldwide. Why Teesside, when the likes of Loughborough and Leicester run risk and security management courses? Teesport and Middlesbrough’s university were already working together on a general, foundation degree in leadership and management in ports. Teesport was taking Teesside students on placement, and the harbour police’s training was already accredited by Teesside University’s business school, a similar arrangement to those made by county police forces. Who knows, it might lead to a foundation degree in port security or port policing. And as for linking this port-specific training to the wider security world, the PFSO training gives the holder 300 CPD (continuous personal development) points, giving port security people with these qualifications the option to seek chartered security professional status. The three-day PFSO course (taken by non-security managers besides security people) includes, besides classroom learning, a trip on the river. Harbour policemen are trained to drive the launches. As a guest I was invited to drive, and can report that (like many things) it was not as easy as it may look. It was indeed like driving a car on an icy road. You have to think well ahead and if you want to steer to one side, it is easy to over-steer. When you seek to correct that, you can easily over-correct, and very soon can find yourself out of control. <br><br>As for the security officer training, Teesport’s aim is that every officer should have a qualification. Teesport goes through the awards body EDI and is a satellite centre of SAFE Training. The port spoke of some interest in contract guarding companies using their trainers and rooms. <br><br>Tall Ships<br><br>Hartlepool hosted the Tall Ships 2010 in August – when scores of sailing ships crewed by a few thousand young people arrived at the port. The town and other event organisers including the port security team put a couple of years of work into the long weekend. Denis Murphy recalled that the port meanwhile had to keep working. Catering (including alcohol) and sideshows (including fireworks) for the visitors walking the quayside to see the ships likewise had to have room and be managed. Hence the port doubled up on security teams. PD Ports did not provide security for the event itself, but had to maintain security of the site – and everything the security staff and the port in general did was on public view. To let in the Tall Ships-related traffic, gates not otherwise used were opened. Hartlepool dock traffic and workers meanwhile went through their normal entrance. As an example of Denis using contract guarding for a specific purpose, Harrogate-based Stag Security Services provided guards on access control, to stop visitors getting into some of the dock’s historic buildings. Denis recalled: “It was a challenge, but we got through it fine, to get close on a million people through the dock over a period of three or four days.” <br><br>Teesport in brief: The Middlesbrough port has ro-ro (roll on, roll off) freight ferries to the Low Countries, and direct links to the Far East. It stresses that it can offer retailers and others customer-specified facilities, among other things enjoying the security services inside the port. Visit <br><br>About the PD Ports’ Port Facility Security course with Teesside: You gain a University Certificate in Professional Development (UCPD). There are three parts: reading beforehand, three days in the classroom 9am to 5pm, and 11 weeks in the workplace applying that learning. Among other things, as a result you should be able to apply the ISPS code (and other rules – the most current ones in the UK being the Port Security Regulations 2009) to your port and work. So yes, that does mean you have to read the code. Topics covered in class include counter-terrorism, risk assessment, searching and access control. Day three is largely given over to an exercise: a boat trip for a water-side view of the port facility, and drawing up security plans. If you are interested in booking a place on the course, details can be obtained from [email protected] The Teesside University contact is Ruth McGrath, senior lecturer in policing, part of the school of social sciences and law. Besides criminology and forensic science and policing courses, the uni also offers certificate, diploma and masters degree (MA) in fraud management, for police and civilian investigators. Visit

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