The uncertainty around the recent election, the rising cost of labour, civil unrest and protests, and an uncertain situation in Iran after the US assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani have compounded to place pressure on the security industry. The industry is of vital importance; crime costs UK businesses about £9 billion a year. Despite this risk, the demand on the industry to provide services with ever tighter margins is high. However, this is a sector which, by it’s very nature, is highly agile. It is rising to meet these challenges and a new model for manned guarding is emerging in those leading the sector into the coming decade.
The UK is suffering a chronic shortage of skilled labour, a growing concern for the security profession. In addition, the National Minimum Wage is set to rise 6.5% from April, adding to financial pressures. An increased Living Wage also squeezes the bottom line and will continue to do so with an unprecedented rise of 6.2% announced for April. This increase of more than four times the inflation rate will also leave employers less to invest in other aspects of their business or require that they take on fewer members of staff. These statutory changes present significant knock on effects for the businesses as staff costs increase considerably. 14% of the UK labour force in the FM sector as a whole is from the European Economic Area (EEA). Already, we are seeing significant drops in migrant worker numbers and with Brexit upon us, it is not a far stretch of the imagination to see these numbers falling further still. Not only is finding talent a real challenge, retaining it can also be difficult; because of the pressure on margins and pay, security professionals will move on to another employer for a small increase in pay. With long-term familiarity with sites being such a valuable asset in a security officer, retention demands attention.
The industry is starting to tackle these issues with the help of technological advances. Manned guarding is far from losing its place in the security matrix but, when applied alongside technology, it can now be carried out far more efficiently. A combination of the latest security technology with experienced security officers can provide considerable savings for organisations. Having an officer onsite 27/4 can cost an average of £120,000 per year. By transferring some manned guarding responsibilities to the latest technologies, organisations can make savings and enhance the reliability and resilience of their security. They can reinvest these savings back into their security function by improving security officers’ salaries, benefits and working conditions to increase their motivation and engagement, reducing churn.
Few security specialists offer both manned guarding and a technology solution. In doing so, they miss the opportunity to create this powerful combination of people and technological security, designed to work optimally together, all at a single point of contact. This simplifies invoicing and administration, in turn reducing costs further.
Manned guarding is – and will be for the foreseeable future – an important means of providing security in a world of evolving threats. It provides a visual deterrent to crime, and an immediate on-site response to any issues. However, with clients unwilling or unable to pay rising costs, the industry must use innovative means of tackling the novel threats that worry all those running an organisation, including theft, terrorism, and cyber security. The use of technology alongside manned guarding is a model for the security sector in an era of seemingly indiscriminate terrorist threats, political turmoil, and cyber security issues. It is an approach to technology that places clients at the heart and ensures every penny of their money is invested into having the greatest possible benefit on their organisation.