Chair: Dr. Janice Goldstraw-White

Panellists:
Rinske Geerlings, Managing Director, Business As Usual
Dennis Shepp, Security Management Learning & Professional Development Advisor
Michael White, Head of Risk, Compliance & Assurance (UK & Ireland), G4S

Key points

Dennis Shepp opens his statement by saying that he sees changes on several levels as the security industry moves from a traditional role, to one that is more innovative. He believes that security needs to operate more business-like, and this will mean working in collaboration more, especially with competitors, as has been seen during the pandemic. As such, he feels that security leaders must be enablers more than police officers. In terms of threats, he references recent examples of conflicts, such as those seen on the US and Mexico border, and climate issues, as seen with the recent severe flooding experienced in western Canada. Other threats he mentions include inflation, which was pending during the pandemic, and he feels that as security wages are traditionally behind those of other staff, this will further stretch resources. At the same time in post-pandemic austerity, staff in organisations could rationalise instances of theft and fraud, thereby increasing threats and risks. Dennis feels that organisation resilience will be even more important in the future – organisations may need to re-evaluate their supply chain management, which may lead to more warehousing, directly impacting on security. He believes that ransomware attacks and other IT threats will continue to increase, and where the public sector can’t cope with these, they will call in private security. Dennis points out that although generally crimes decreased during the pandemic, violent crimes in fact increased, and this too may impact on security.

You will hear Rinske Geerlings outlining three main areas that she sees are big issues to the security sector currently. First, the changing nature and role of the job and what this means for every individual security professional. She feels that during the pandemic and since, the human aspect of security has been brought to the forefront more – something she thinks isn’t always easy to move into – but she feels that it was achieved and done well. Second, she regards the threat of cyber information security as paramount and has been for several years now. She believes the increase in people working from home has further added to this, but the mindset for tackling it should be the same – look for what we don’t know yet. She gave the example of ransomware – not always previously identified as a security risk before, unlike other more traditional risks, but now just as important now. Therefore, she believes there is a cross-over between physical and cyber security, along with risks posed by the internet of devices. Third, she commented that the security sector needs to start speaking the business language, certainly if they want to get a voice in the boardroom to resonate at the right level and verbalise those issues that are important to the security world.  

We hear from Mike White that we can truly say these are unprecedented times and that no part of the security world has been untouched by this global pandemic. But he reminds us that these challenges have not gone away, and in fact new ones are emerging on top of the old ones. At the same time, he notes there is a shrinking security employee market, one with wage struggles and as a result, in the future business are going to have think creatively about how they are going to attract quality employees to their organisations. But he believes that security officers are going to continue as first responders, certainly for major incidents and attacks. Mike notes that the security sector is awaiting the outcome of a number of reviews, including the Prevent, but also the outcome of the public enquiry in the wake of the Manchester bombings, which he believes the sector will undoubtedly be affected by and will need investment to pay for any changes required.

This webinar has once again shown how the security sector stepped up its efforts during the global pandemic and continues to, as we slowly start to emerge from it. This highlighted the security workforce as reliable, professional and adaptable, but to continue being seen in this light, it is important that they not only embrace these changes and new roles, but also to position themselves in such a way that they are seen as integral to day-to-day business, enabling them to influence change in the future.

Dr Janice Goldstraw-White
25th November 2021