Chair: Dr Janice Goldstraw-White

Chidi Osuji – Criminology, security, peace and conflict resolution expert (Nigeria)
Asher Nardone – Campaigner/Expert in Anti Social Behaviour (UK)
Bill Fox – Chairman at Maybo Ltd (UK)

Key Points

Bill Fox suggests that after 18 months with lots of anxiety and stress for all of us,
aggressive behaviour has been observed both in the workplace and in public, and he
outlines how different sectors have experienced this time, either being in lockdown or
providing essential services. He points out that industries, such as the health service,
retail and transport/leisure sectors have been clearly conflicted providing services,
while at the same time trying to ensure people’s safety. In the NHS, workers have
had many interactions with the public and often under very difficult circumstances,
especially where relatives have been suffering with Covid, and he states that they
continue this work (in vaccinations centres for example). In retail, personal safety
has been a major concern and violence and aggression resulting from some of the
restrictions that have been required to be put in place have caused considerable
issues. In transport and the night-time economy, he points out how much experience
has been lost from that workforce. Bill believes that with the widening role of security,
especially as it currently involves more policing, that we are going to see more
violence and aggression towards security personnel. Therefore, it is important that
there is clarity on the role – a new and changing one – not just one that is extended,
and that we need to provide individuals with the right tools to do this.

Chidi Osuji outlines that aggressive behaviour is encountered in his country of
Nigeria in many aspects of life. However, during the height of the pandemic security
personnel were particularly affected being frontline staff. These roles were crucial
however, as these were the people who granted access to buildings, pointed the
public in the right direction and generally looked after everyone’s safety and well-
being. Likewise audit staff – often had equipment to transport on site and had to
conduct their business with the help of security staff who would address and sort out
their issues. Because of the crucial roles security played during the pandemic and
now, Chidi believes that the issue of violence and aggression is very pertinent to
security officers.

Asher Nardone states that she believes that evidence against crimes needs to be
improved, otherwise the CPS will not be able to prosecute these criminals. And she
outlines that often it is just simple things that go wrong – like the CCTV camera angle
being wrong, that details are not recorded properly, or that offenders are wrongly
profiled. She believes that in the UK we have a very laxed attitude towards crime, not
tolerated in other countries, and that the government and police blame each other.
But even where resources are available, the police are reluctant to prosecute
because of the issue of poor evidence. Therefore, Nardone believes that businesses
need to take more responsibility for this and that there are things that can be done
(like installing covert cameras, activating a Community Trigger, take out an injunction
etc.). She also believes that as perpetrators get more confident in their criminal
behaviour, others will see this and also commit crime. She notes how often people
‘turn a blind eye’ because of the perception that the police won’t do anything. As a
society, she believes that some people are being de-humanised and seen as part of
the company and therefore, being treated badly. However, she states that often
when perpetrators are confronted with the impact of their crimes, they have no idea
of the extent of the anguish they have caused to these individuals. Therefore, she
believes we need a shift in how we look at perpetrators and more research in this
area to uncover their motivations.

This webinar has once again highlighted the important role the security sector has
played during the pandemic and continue to as we start to come out of it. But as
frontline workers, this has exposed them to more violent and aggressive behaviour
by both in-house workers and the general public. And this is a situation that is not
likely to change much in the future. But this is a much broader societal issue and the
security sector on their own can’t fix this – they need to work with others in
partnership to tackle this sensibly. Resources are obviously an issue, but the sector
needs ensure that they have the relevant competency, equipment, support and
numbers to perform these tasks in the foreseeable future.

Dr Janice Goldstraw-White
14th October 2021