Examination of Witnesses (Questions 820
WEDNESDAY 10 APRIL 2002
820. I promise you I did not hear that,
somebody has pinched my idea.
(Mr Sharp) The man who organised it should organise
821. There is a long history of fear of
the military, mainly in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. Do
you think that the private sector would welcome a more visible
military presence, not least to provide public reassurance in
the event of a significant threat?
(Mr Gamble) I think generally they would. I understand
your point about the fear that used to exist about the military
but it is a very much smaller establishment than it was and I
certainly do not see that as a major problem. The fact is that
it is one of the institutions in the UK which has delivered the
goods time and time again.
822. What about the armed police presence
around the City of London, did that cause any great anxiety?
(Mr Wood) If I could go back to your previous question
first. There is not a reluctance any more, certainly right the
way across people I speak to and certainly within the sector that
I work. When they see it in other countries where they visit where
the military has a more dynamic and upfront role in dealing with
these things, I do not think that fear is there any more. I think
there has to be a happy level between when they are used and how
they are used and whether they are used in an armed stance or
whether they are not in an armed stance. Other than that, I do
not think there is any great issue about them. Certainly one of
the areas where there would be a welcomed presence is that in
terms of airport security and enhancing airport security. I think
that is something that is at the forefront of not only the minds
of UK business people but UK travellers and the general perception
about how airport security is dealt with. In terms of moving on
to the police, the armed police presence was welcomed, very much
so. I had people commenting to me how they felt more safe and
secure after September 11 when they saw the increased police patrols
and the visibility. I do not think that rests with having armed
policemen, I think that goes out to having policemen on the beat
and actually having a visible police presence on our streets which
is an enormous step forWood in reassuring the public.
823. What about the military key point defence
of critical points in the private sector? Should this be a private
sector responsibility or a military one?
(Mr Wood) I think it has to be a joint one. Having
led one of the UK military key point survey teams I would commend
its use as soon as possible.
824. As we are moving into private protection,
just one brief set of questions. In terms of dealing with crises
we have spent a lot of time talking about what would happen if
there was an attack but we have not spent a great deal of time
on how you could prevent an attack. The private protection industry
has been to a certain degree a night watchman but thankfully it
has now matured and is more sophisticated and the security is
splendid on the technology side, regulation at long last has been
passed and will be implemented over the next few years. Some of
you, Mr Wood, will be hirers of private security. Does your organisation
give much thought to the calibre of private sector protection
in the form of VIP protection, drivers that have gone through
courses in executive protection, physical security, security shredders?
Have you seen any greater role that a competent regulated private
sector could do in some of these things we are talking about largely
in terms of the police or the military?
(Mr Wood) I think that the private security industry
has a role to play but it has to grow in its strength having gone
through a period of where we are going to see the regulation introduced
and how it is going to operate. Standards need to be clearly set
for how the private security industry is actually employed and
what levels of competency we see. I still think that the underlying
issue with the private security sector comes back down to the
rate of pay and I do not think it ventures much beyond that. We
pay above the odds and insist on a much higher level of security
from the security industry that we have provided to us. By not
penny pinching on what we are looking for and what we are paying
we get that better level of competency. There are too many companies
that spring up very quickly and disappear just as quickly and
they do not pay and have an infrastructure and reasonable management
structure to be able to control them and they do not look at core
competencies of what they are getting and providing to industry.
825. What is the example of the pay?
(Mr Wood) It varies from area to area but it is not
much beyond the minimum basic pay in some areas. I have been involved
826. Minimum basic pay or minimum national
(Mr Wood) The minimum national wage, in some areas
it is not much beyond that. In the two organisations I have been
involved with we have gone out beyond that and paid more and that
has to happen locally because it is very much a local situation,
you have got to find what the market rate is and then step above
it. In addition, if you lay down and work closely with the private
security companies and set your expectations about you are wanting
NVQ trained people, you are wanting people who can think on their
feet and you are not just paying peanuts, you are not going to
get monkeys, then that is where you get the significant improvement.
Whether you want to think about extending their role into supporting
the police and supporting the military is another issue altogether
and I think it needs very careful consideration. We have seen
the response to the Home Secretary's proposals on Woodens and
neighbourhood activity constables, or whatever they are going
to be called, without real powers and training and how they have
been received. You have to be careful about those sorts of issues.
There is a role for the private security sector, that role needs
to continue to be developed as does their training, their competency
and the regulation of them.
(Mr Sharp) Security, like a lot of these issues, becomes
a grudge purchase of course and, therefore, people will not want
to pay. Maybe the insurance industry has a role to play whereby
if you want to be protected and you are expecting to have a level
of security in place, that should be competent, qualified security.
(Mr Gamble) That is right.
827. Is business continuity a grudge payment
as well? Is there a parallel between what you are doing and what
the security industry is doing?
(Mr Sharp) There is a degree of that, yes.
828. It is a hell of a bigger grudge in
your case than hiring a security guard, is it not?
(Mr Sharp) Oh, yes. It is a question of really convincing
people of the positive benefits. If it is done correctly then
you actually can restructure the organisation and get the benefits
and be able to sell that, which some of the major companies have
done. This is something that we can do to guarantee continuity
of supply and you can be very positive in selling that and use
it for competitive advantage.
829. At the moment you know the better firms
have two days formal training and one day on the job training.
I am not certain whether in two days you can quite master the
intricacies of private security or whether you could detect a
bomb is debatable. I would hope that in any future syllabus construction
training for dealing with weapons of mass destruction should form
an essential element in the syllabus.
(Mr Sharp) In terms of business continuity we are
certainly encouraging qualified people and that is what we are
about as an Institute, qualifications. We are now moving towards
academic qualifications being available for that. We would like
to see something incorporated into every business studies course,
that people are aware of the security risk and continuity is part
of their ongoing management training.
830. Anybody could set themselves up, I
presume, as a consultant in business continuity. Do they do that?
(Mr Sharp) They could. Interestingly, the major organisations
are now beginning to demand qualified people.
831. And what qualifications would be required?
(Mr Sharp) They are asking for membership of our organisation.
Barclays Bank will only employ people who are members of our organisation
832. There will be some mugs out there,
the same kind of people who buy double glazing, who would look
at somebody with a purported certificate.
(Mr Sharp) Of course.
Chairman: Thank you very much everyone,
that was really very interesting. If there is any supplementary
information in your files, as you can see we are at the bottom
end of a steep learning curve and we have to learn very quickly,
we would be very, very grateful to receive any further information.
Thank you so much.