Chair: Professor Martin Gill

Panellists:
Gabriel Badea – Chairman and CEO at Global Security System SA (Romania)
Dmitry Budanov – CEO at Elite Security Holding Company (Russia)
Viktor Panchak – General Director at SK Security (Ukraine)
Boyko Mitev – Chief Security Consultant at Sevar Security (Bulgaria)

Key points

Gabriel Badea highlights the new roles being undertaken by security staff, including taking temperatures and enforcing the wearing of masks at various locales including hospitals and supermarkets. It has resulted in inventing new procedures and one of the big challenges has been dealing with ‘covid deniers’ who have vented their anger on security officers who they see as the enforcers of the rules that unnecessarily limit civil liberties. Gabriel notes that security associations were key in issuing guidance on how to respond which includes: engaging customers, and the use of CCTV alongside temperature checks thereby adding visibility. The security sector has gained credibility for its performance in the crisis but clients are struggling in a severe economic crisis and that will be a main challenge going forward.

Viktor Panchak notes that Covid-19 had a major impact on security in organisations, as security departments were often not prepared and business continuity plans, where they existed, were found wanting. The private security sector has a poor relationship with the police who were more focussed on enforcing rules than helping business; there is a difference of course. You will hear Viktor discuss massive problems faced by business, an escalation in kidnappings, the wide availability of illegal weapons; he discusses how the State has failed to protect business. It is getting better, gradually but its slow. Security though has stepped up its game. Viktor highlight the benefits of security risk assessments (when done well), improved education and training, and improving security standards. Motivation is high, but security has had to come along way from a weak base, and it still has some way to go, but getting there.

Boyko Mitev notes that the move to people working from home has changed a main security challenge from a physical to a cyber one. This has been reflected in businesses, for example banks assigning senior managers to oversee security with a cyber profile. A change brought about by the pandemic has been the introduction of the role of chief resilience officer, to cover the gaps that have emerged in the ways crisis management has been conducted. Boyko reports that the Bulgarian corporate security sector was well prepared for the crisis and that overall the role of the CSO has been enhanced, albeit often with less resources as economic hardship impacts. The big challenge for CSOs is to earn the support of the CEO, that one is on going.

Dima Budanov notes that Russian security coped with the first wave of Covid-19 rather well, albeit the restrictions there were not severe in Russia. That said, a limit has been that the security sector is poorly regulated and there has been a challenge in finding qualified people to fulfil security roles. Even at the frontline level a problem has been that personnel moved from cities to homelands to survive the crisis and in so doing the ready supply of labour has been lost. Businesses have learnt the benefits of business continuity plans, which were often non existent, though that provided the opportunity for security personnel to step in, and step up, to fill the gaps. Dima sees the crisis as an opportunity (to ‘build windmills not walls’) to show its value but time is short. He notes that both economics and politics will create bottlenecks that will need to be managed.

This webinar provides a focus on a region that has largely escaped attention. The discussion is illuminating not least the challenges faced by security in recognising and filling gaps in the ways organisations confront not just this pandemic but the crisis in general. This lays the foundation for a better future but economic, political and regulatory issues will need to be managed.

Professor Martin Gill
22nd September 2020