This is the fifth instalment in a new series of articles for the readers of Risk UK where we shine the spotlight on NSI-approved businesses for the benefit of risk and security managers who purchase security guarding as well as systems-focused solutions. Answering our questions on this occasion is Peter Hale, general manager of Omni Security Services.
Risk UK: Can you briefly describe your business’ activities and what you consider to be your USP as an organisation?
Peter Hale: Omni Security Services has established itself in the security industry as a company that both promotes and adheres to strong values. Our goal of uncompromising integrity and high ethical conduct is something of which the company is extremely proud.
Our core offerings are security guarding and security dog services, the latter encompassing general purpose patrol dogs, narcotics search dogs and explosives detection dogs.
In terms of a USP, our approach to client care is designed to ensure maximum flexibility for the services we offer, enabling all at Omni to work closely in partnership with our valued customers and exceed their expectations.
Risk UK: What do your clients value most about the services you deliver?
Peter Hale: A recurring theme that shines through from our regular customer satisfaction surveys is the dynamism and agility of the service provided. We have a mature and layered infrastructure that allows us to respond to urgent requests for assistance from national customers with same day turnarounds for quality officers on location with full RAMS packs and associated documentation.
The accessibility and expertise of our senior management in support of our front line operators is also consistently mentioned.
Underpinning all of this is the performance and quality of our front line operators. We invest significant time in recruiting, training and retaining each member of staff to ensure that our organisational aims and objectives are always lifted off the page and made real.
Risk UK: How do you feel accreditations have assisted your company?
Peter Hale: In a word? Greatly. Omni Security Services has made a commitment to superlative service levels since 2002, when the company first entered into the NSI regime at Bronze level. From that point, the business progressed to NSI Silver in 2003 and then NSI Gold in 2004, which it has held ever since.
Omni Security Services is very proud to be one of the first specialist guarding companies to have achieved the ISO 9001:2015 transition within the NSI Guarding Gold framework. This commitment to attaining the highest standards of achievement has deeply embedded an attitude of excellence in the organisation.
Security Industry Authority (SIA) Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) registration was achieved in 2006 and has been held to date.
Risk UK: Specifically, what value does ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval bring to your business and its clients?
Peter Hale: While some commercial processes do ask for evidence of ACS registration, there appears to be little understanding of the scheme. In many cases all that’s required is an answer in the affirmative.
We invest some considerable time and tender column inches to expanding on the ACS, our score within it and how this translates to value for that particular prospective client as, quite often, Procurement Departments simply don’t know the appropriate questions to ask.
To us, the NSI Guarding Gold scheme is still regarded as the most exacting inspection service for businesses operating within the security industry. The NSI Guarding Gold ‘brand’ is held in high regard and recognised as an endorsement of an organisation’s commitment to achieving excellence. There’s no room for complacency, though, and continued energy from the NSI in widely promoting the scheme would be valuable.
Risk UK: In practice, what are the main differences between ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval?
Peter Hale: I see the framework of the NSI’s Guarding Gold scheme as a facilitator for excellence if the application and endeavour are accurate. Adherence to the requirements can provide the machinery for efficiency, qualitative outputs and delighted customers. It’s a non-negotiable indicator of commitment to quality.
The ACS provides a presentation of achievement, but could arguably be said to be more focused on the outcomes rather than a consistently applied process.
To chase ‘points’ and provide the evidence required for a particular score for a particular element only is to miss the fundamental sustainability and underpinning commitment that should be part of the business process.
Risk UK: How do you think technology has changed the industry over the last couple of years and what do you feel will be the direction of travel in the future?
Peter Hale: I believe that technology has radically enhanced the industry. In the future, increasingly symbiotic solutions involving manned and technological resources are going to be key to providing a total service.
The time of the ‘technophobe’ has long since passed and, in fact, the word itself is likely to have little relevance in the very near future within the guarding sphere as all credible suppliers will need to be able to demonstrate service-enhancing technological resources and embrace the changes they realise.
Risk UK: When it comes to negotiating contracts and responding to tender requests, what aspects are of most value to customers and how are these changing?
Peter Hale: Unsurprisingly, many customers still zero-in on the bottom right hand corner of a proposal. We’re aware the security industry can be driven by intense price competition that may serve to drive down standards and quality to provide the barest quotation.
At Omni, we’re endeavouring to drive standards and quality in the industry upwards. By focusing on RoI for customers and demonstrating the clear layers of added value that sustainable partnering can bring, we find that negotiations move away from price points and races to the bottom and settle more on our complete support across all levels of a customer’s business.
I’m pleased to say that there appears to be a slowly-building appreciation of the benefits of investing in a proper and well-designed solution to security needs as opposed to a cheap, quick and, ultimately, unsustainable fix.
Risk UK: How has Government legislation (eg the National Minimum Wage, the National Living Wage and holiday pay) affected your business? Do you believe such legislation is a good thing?
Peter Hale: I endorse any means to ensure that decent officers are remunerated appropriately. However, we shouldn’t just be relying on the Government to achieve that goal for us.
Of course, there’s an inevitable ‘hit’ for accounts based at the lower end of the wage spectrum, but generally we in the industry are the architects of our own issues if we’re pricing work too narrowly to pay a decent wage just to win the business in the first place.
I believe that the standard security guarding licence is too easily obtained. This is an area that should be reviewed in terms of rigour.
Risk UK: What are the most important attributes you look for in your security officers and staff members in general?
Peter Hale: While integrity, work ethic, reliability and communication skills are all core and basic requirements, I personally love to see ambition in people. Specifically, I’m referencing an ambition to be better and to be honest about wanting to be better.
The private security industry offers genuine career paths and healthy, focused and nurtured ambition is the bullion for driving standards up and taking the sector forwards.
Risk UK: How can the SIA, the NSI and industry standards best serve the sector in addition to the needs of your company’s clients and the wider public interest? Will the introduction of business licensing be a positive step?
Peter Hale: Education of consumers and other interested parties is key. We must shine a light on professionalism and capability within the industry and set alignments to be assimilated within the mainstream consciousness.
The planned introduction of business licensing could be a positive step, as long as the regulatory focus is accurate. To my mind, there seems little point in increasing the regulatory burden if the outcome of doing so is only recognised within the industry itself.
Time in the security sector
18 years direct industry experience at senior level overseeing national accounts for global brands. I’m educated to post-graduate level in Security and Risk Management and an IRCA-certified Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001) lead auditor. I also hold certifications in employment practice (through the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) and equality and diversity in the workplace
Location of the business
Omni Security Services’ head office is based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. We have a satellite office in London and a national outreach
Areas of expertise
Security guarding (including executive guarding assignments), general patrol security dogs and specialist search security dogs
NSI Guarding Gold, SIA ACS, SAFEContractor, CHAS Accredited Contractor, BSIA Member, NASDU Company Member and Member of the British Safety Council
About the National Security Inspectorate
The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) is a wholly-independent, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee and operates as a UKAS-accredited certification body specialising in the security and fire safety sectors.
For over 40 years, the NSI has served to protect businesses, homeowners and the general public alike, raising standards by providing robust and high quality audits of both security and fire safety service providers.