Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Peter Claeson – Safety and Security Manager at Scandic Hotels AB
Øyvind Halnes – Communication Manager at Stanley Security AS
Totti Karpela – Director of Peace of Mind Threat Management Ltd

Key points

Oyvind Halnes starts by outlining the response to Covid-19 in Norway. The virus has been less severe in Norway compared to some other countries, certainly some shops and schools were closed and there has been an impact on the economy, but the restrictions did not endure for too long. The period saw less crime, of some types anyway, because the borders were closed there was less offending there. He makes the point that in Norway much of the work of security personnel has been in the area of safety. Security staff  are working well with safety staff, supporting each other. Interestingly security brings greater operational experience and that has been a positive differentiator. There are new security challenges relating to more people working from home: greater difficulties in securing sensitive information at home; managing the dangers of eavesdropping; staff at home being hoodwinked; then there is the different risk of tiger kidnapping for management.

Totti Karpela notes that the impact of Covid-19 on Finland has been relatively modest. There have been limits on social gatherings and of course there is anticipation about the impact of a second wave. As in Norway, managing people’s fears has been a key focus. One weakness has been poor Government communications too often characterised by inconsistency; other nationalities may recognise that. In Finland cyber security has grown in prominence, although all security have been involved in protecting the infrastructure; that is always necessary. As Totti says it is difficult to know how crime has impacted because many types, including financial offences, wont be known about yet; they take time to be discovered even in ‘normal times’. He makes an interesting comparison to the post SARS crisis in Hong Kong which some will find interesting. It is too early to assess how security is to be judged for its performance in the crisis. There are opportunities, for example in education and training in coping with a emergencies that last a long time, but whether the sector is geared up to exploiting this is unclear. Certainly there is a clear need for better guidance and preparation on how to cope with a prolonged crisis.

Peter Claeson notes that while early on Sweden’s approach was much ridiculed, for not taking the risks of the pandemic seriously, it has more latterly received praise for keeping the economy active and maintaining some sense of normality in social life. He argues that the greatest challenge is people not understanding the severity of Covid-19. Some security companies are offering new services, some are more competent as a consequence of dealing with the crisis, but for the most part it the sector has continued to do what it has always done.

This webinar on Scandinavia is fascinating because it offers a somewhat different take on the crisis and the role of security that we have heard in other webinars about other parts of the world. The need to manage fear, which appeared prominent in this discussion, is something other regions are likely to see emerging as a prime consideration. If so, we can perhaps look to Scandinavia for guidance.

Professor Martin Gill
24th September 2020