Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Jon Sigurd Jacobsen – Owner, SOS Security AS
Øyvind Halnes – Chairman, Norsk Sikkerhetsforening (NOSIF)
Knut Brox – Department Head – Project Security, Norwegian Defence Estates Agency

Key Points

Jon Sigurd Jacobsen notes that at the start of the pandemic there was genuine public concern at the safety issues and it marked a security sector turning its attention from security to safety. That said, protestors both against restrictions and non-believers in the pandemic occupied some security teams. Some activities ceased during the pandemic, like aviation, but many other opportunities opened up for security not least because of new Covid related requirements. But there was a problem, many security companies sacked their staff. To add to the difficulty new regulations have made it more arduous for new staff to earn a licence and not all can afford it. Jon feels that security companies missed an opportunity, they lost experience and expertise when they could have exploited new commercial opportunities. Government support could have been better but security has to take responsibility and going forward has to forge better links, with the police and in government circles. Jon also makes the point that the crisis has provided learning points, and since the same people will be in charge in any future crisis it is important that those lessons are taken seriously.

Oyvind Haines notes that Norway has been fortunate in that the 900 deaths, although sad, means the country has fared relatively lightly, they may have expected to have suffered that level of deaths from flu. Sweden adopting a different and almost opposite policy has fared much worse. Oyvind notes the response has been effective in part because of good leadership from senior government officials who clearly outlined the threat and the response and the reasons for it. One major change has been the move to working from home, there people are isolated form colleagues, perhaps using less sophisticated and more vulnerable IT, and where building good security cultures is a challenge, one we can’t be sure that has been fully met. Oyvind is positive that security will return to a prominent position post Covid, it is too important. While no two crises are the same, and this one lasted longer than most, he too underlines the importance of learning the lessons.

Knut Brox notes how security has been characterised by a significant move to digitalisation and this has introduced a whole range of vulnerabilities to workplaces and indeed to home offices; many companies had to introduce policies and not all were sufficiently developed. It has been difficult to determine who at home is disgruntled and who is vulnerable and Knut too highlights the importance of generating good cultures and thinking about how they can best be delivered in this new environment with its new ways of working. Frontline security has been more visible in more varied environments during Covid and so there are opportunities for it to exploit. Security generally must focus on contingency plans, it is happening in Government, but companies must replicate this.

In many ways Norway, a wealthy country with resources to devote to a full response, has been better placed than many to cope with the crisis. It seems it has. That said there is concern that Norway must learn lessons. And frontline security has been good only for some, there were missed opportunities but crucially it needs to forge closer links with police and government. Norway is not alone there though, around the world that is something so often wanting, we will watch with interest to see what happens next.

Martin Gill
11th November 2021