News Archive

Trio On 2012

by msecadm4921

A trio of speakers at IFSEC went through the opportunities and challenges of 2012 for the private security industry.

In order, they were Andrew Amery for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghauffur, and David Evans, BSIA Project Director – 2012. If there was a theme to the speeches, it was that the security effort for the London Games will be wider than the London venues, and last longer. Certainly things are happening already – given that 250,000 people might need accreditation, and it takes four years to train a mounted police officer, there need to be some early decisions, the audience heard.

Andrew Amery said that 7-7 will continue to have profound implications for planning at all levels. The idea of the Games hosted by one city is a thing of the past – in other words, it’s a global event, that needs planning well in advance. And given the Olympics’ profile and the potential offered to the radical group or the loner, planning needs to be ‘flexible and responsive to the threats’. That said, we should not allow security to overtake what the threat is.

As for the 60-day period leading to the Games and during the event, Amery spoke of the sheer scale and complexity – for instance, 10,000 athletes from 204 nations, and 20,000 members of the world’s media in town. Yet the east London Olympic Park will house a mere eight out of the 33 venues; in central London, venues include Earls Court and Horseguards Parade; and to the south-east, river-based events, besides mountain biking and rowing out of the city. Training camps up to a month beforehand; hotels; all will need security provision. Andrew Amery spoke of a ‘security legacy’; such as street lighting that will reduce crime and the fear of crime. He described the difference between new venues, existing ones such as Wimbledon (tennis) and temporary venues (a shooting range at Woolwich).

What will the Games security look like? Andrew Amery offered a pointer – while there will be a police presence in a venue, expect ‘tiered’ security, from the lowest tier of volunteers supporting the security operation, to stewards ensuring that safety standards are enforced; the private security industry, perhaps managing crowds and searching perimeters; and police providing reassurance, prevention of crime and counter-terrorism. As for the timetable, the focus is now on the public sector ODA – Olympic Delivery Authority; later, in the operational phase, the focus will switch to the privately-funded (from TV rights, ticket sales and so on) LOCOG that, if you like, ‘puts on the show’. The authorities are halfway through the first two years of acquiring land, clearing it and gaining planning permission; then four years to finalise procurement, building the venues and the infrastructure; and a year for test events.

Security equipment has to meet operational needs and be fit for purpose. As for operational requirements, Andrew Amery spoke of four stages – one, to identify strategy ‘at a very high level’; then more detail; then specific technical requirements; before the final stage of procurement and testing. The ODA has started this process in a number of areas; LOCOG will not start in earnest until next year, Amery reported. He did raise that sponsors – the likes of GE, Panasonic, Samsung – still will need to meet the operational requirements set, and still need to be competitive. On the guarding side, Andrew Amery spoke of work with Skills for Security and the BSIA on a ‘skills audit’, anticipating resources (that is, the likely shortfall between the numbers of security guarding people wanted at 2012, and industry numbers).

Amery said: "We must not lose sight of what the Olympics Games is about – it’s about creating that perfect environment, celebrating humanity." He called for an ‘inspirational’ Games, that leaves a legacy.

Tarique Ghauffur, who has a security co-ordinating role, also recalled 7-7, and 21-7 and court cases since. It meant two things, he said; security and public safety have to be a primary consideration in all aspects of Olympic planning; and security planning has to start now. He, too, stressed the national and international dimension to the Games’ security – bearing in mind the Queen’s diamond jubilee, besides. Ghauffur chairs a monthly meeting of 24 partners trying to work through the security approach and planning. While there is no formal private sector involvement, Ghauffur has been holding discussions with private security representative bodies and regulators. He praised BSIA chief executive David Dickinson’s help in setting up a joint working group, looking at what roles can be performed by private security, besides standards, recruitment and training, and costs. "Frankly, the door is open," he added, on private security working with the Met.

On physical security, he spoke of work with the ODA – whose head of security is Steve Hooper – making sure that sites are secure; and that the right kind of equipment is used, such as CCTV. For instance, the aim is that the ‘technological footprint’ of a venue fits into London’s public space CCTV and automatic number plate recognition. Recent publicity about ‘Big Brother’ fears of surveillance appears to have put many on the defensive about use of CCTV: Ghauffur, referring to such publicity, said: "Can I say, we will not be able to police the security of the Olympics just by people. The technological footprint, CCTV and various other aspects, is absolutely, hugely, important …" He did add that there need to be checks and balances to ensure public confidence.

He said he hoped for a ‘comprehensive security legacy’ for London, and has met Mayor of London Ken Livingstone to that effect. As for operational readiness – command and control – London at least has much experience of securing big events. Ghauffur mentioned the new Wembley; and the Tour de France. He did go through policy issues to do with police – what of carrying firearms? Might overseas police be on the streets? The assistant commissioner suggested a ‘security green paper’ on whether some aspects of security have to be in a regulatory framework. And not least: who will pay for security? Ghauffur is still ‘pursuing ownership of security costs’. For one thing, who knows what the real costs will be? Ghauffur raised concerns of a ‘silo approach to security’; hence his co-ordinating role. Among the topics: protecting the Olympic brand; fraud and corruption; contingency planning; and benchmarking with the Beijing 2008 Games, besides working with other big sports events, such as the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa. Ghauffur said that he had a team at the recent cricket world cup in the West Indies; the Doha Games; and the 2006 World Cup in Germany, there to learn.

David Evans, too, began by speaking of the ‘exceptional challenge, ‘the biggest security event anywhere’. While he stressed the Games as a showcase to the world for UK private security, he raised concerns as to whether enough manpower would be available to meet demands.

He went into more detail about what private security could provide – such as ‘mag and bag’ (that is, magnetic arches and bag searches at entrances) – and numbres. He estimated that 6500 private security staff would be required; and 10,000 volunteer stewards and marshals. Yet the Games would be in summer when people took holidays; and the Notting Hill Carnival for instance already put extreme pressure on police. He suggested that Olympic-related events would start as soon as the Beijing Games ended – from a Shakespeare festival to ‘street parties everywhere’ to an influx of private aircraft. In other words, most security providers will have increased demand from existing customers; and you may find it difficult to find security provision. David Evans pointed out that security companies have the commercial imperative to protect their existing business – and it is easy to forget that existing business is the lifeblood. He spoke also of how difficult it can be for suppliers to sporting events to get paid on time – and where margins are competitive, security companies cannot wait for months or even years for their money.

It will be a security seller’s market; besides, other industries will be seeking staff from the same pool of labour. As early planning will be required, David Evans was reassured by Tarique Ghauffur’s stressing of the need for early planning. Evans too mentioned the Skills for Security ‘job profiling exercise’ to estimate numbers: "A significant shortfall [in available security staff] is likely," he warned. All that said, he did sum up that, with proper early planning, private security sees opportunities and will play its part.

So many questions. How to co-ordinate security so that security starts when someone buys a ticket, so that security can be lighter-touch nearer, and inside, the venue? Should ticket-buyers have to provide a biometric? Will Games organisers require guarding companies to be SIA-approved? Who will command who? While Ghauffur’s hints that London can expect to see see foreign patrolling officers may make headlines some time, as he pointed out, British officers were on duty in Germany at last year’s World Cup.

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