Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Dr. Glen Kitteringham – Research Criminologist and President of Kitteringham Security Group Inc.
Dennis Shepp, CPP – Security Management Professional
Kevin Palacios – Ecuador Security and IFPO Latin America

Key points

Dennis Shepp notes that there is an unquestionable bias of regulators towards security officers/guards, and away from any grade above that, especially managers. He offers reasons; public pressure to focus on the most visible areas; the longstanding concern the frontline workers have generated regarding performance; and because it is easier. Yet there should be concerns about some security managers/directors who lack business knowledge including how to respond effectively to and manage the C Suite; this to the overall detriment of the sector. Dennis calls for more research, and for the educational institutions and security associations to be more involved in training managers/directors. He has some sympathy with the argument that at the highest levels, being organisationally and business savvy is more important than being a security expert.

Kevin Palacios notes that offenders are specialising, adapting quickly, learning about security and understanding the weaknesses, and they can be organised. The security sector needs to meet this challenge, and the focus needs to be on security competency. Criminals cannot afford to fail, the consequences are too severe, the security sector needs to embrace the same mentality. In many instances it is hard for those recruited from the police and military, which is common, to leave old ways behind. Discussing the required skill sets Kevin points to the need to master the body of knowledge, build business acumen and work from the basis that security is not easy. There is a need for a job delineation study, to include an understanding of the skillsets needed from supervisory levels and above. He calls for protection to be part of school curricula, to breed interest and imbue skills. He is supportive of some qualifications out there – ASIS and IFPO are highlighted – but more are needed.

Glen Kitteringham says the focus by regulators on mandating training for frontline security personnel has a long history, so too does the lack of focus on managers. Highlighting the key elements of a profession, he states that the security sector meets only one, that it has a distinct and growing body of knowledge to guide work. The process of educating personnel and testing their knowledge as a prerequisite to practicing is not in sight. He accuses those managers who think it is sufficient to learn on the job as ‘short-changing’ the sector and underlines the value of formal education. The process is not helped by recruiters and HR personnel who take short cuts with inadequate job descriptions and appointments of non-qualified people. Managers need to be experts in security as well as in management, they need to be able discern the credible from the less credible, in security that remains a priority. There are still gaps in career paths and that imposes a limit on generating the best security managers.

Training remains central to good and progressive security, and a key component of a strategy towards professionalisation. The tendency for regulators to over focus on the lowest levels of security, albeit the most important, is lamentable but unlikely to change. Universities and higher education institutions are making progress, but it is slow. The whole topic needs an injection of interest and thought, and as the panellists showed, there is a lot more that needs to be done to understand senior level requirements, and crucially how we meet them.

Martin Gill
22nd June 2021