BSIA Briefing

In this month’s BSIA Briefing, Tom Ford speaks to Risk Xtra about what he has observed when stepping into the security industry and airs his views on the key role Trade Associations have to play when it comes to driving the industry forward.

Two weeks before starting at the BSIA, I had an inkling that my role was going to be busy. An e-mail from the BSIA’s CEO Mike Reddington outlining my first two weeks of induction programme with a “no stone left unturned” approach set me in good standing for my time ahead. I was both surprised and impressed with the level of detail and support and have no doubt 2020 will be a big year for the Trade Association.

I cannot believe how much I’ve learned about this industry in such a small space of time, and that’s not just the Google definition of Security (which is, by the way, “the state of being free from danger or threat”).

The UK’s security guarding market had an estimated £4.1 billion turnover in 2018, with almost 400,000 Security Industry Authority licence holders. EU security represents 20% of the world security market, making it the third largest. The Top 30 security companies represent circa 86% of the market.

On the electronics side, electronic security is set to grow dramatically due to switches from analogue to digital products and great levels of innovation, new project developments and affordability. In 2017, the market was estimated to be worth in the region of £2.35 billion, with CCTV and video surveillance accounting for the majority (52% of the market, in fact).

Looking forward, projects like ECHO are going to transform the alarm industry by taking call handling into the 21st Century, saving time, minimising errors and reducing some of the pressures in police Control Rooms. This is a real example of membership bodies working closely together to improve the security industry. Here, there’s a recognised need for good working relationships, common interests and showing how effective alignment with other industry partners can be in driving shared goals forward and propelling the professional security industry further into the modern age.

As for other initiatives such as SaferCash and SaferGems, I was somewhat taken aback by the magnitude of crime that’s still carried out, but at the same time feel relief at the professionalism and dedication on offer to keep communities and people working within these sectors safe.

State of the industry

As for the current state of the security industry, I’ve learned about the large skills gap affecting the many businesses across the entire industry. There is estimated to be a resource/skills gap of 30,000 skilled engineers with a current enrolment of just under 1,000 apprentices across the UK.

I’ve always been a huge advocate of creating opportunities for learners at any stage in their lives and I’m a firm believer that it’s never too late to try something new. Seeing the BSIA (through Skills for Security) provide opportunities to help apprentices make informed decisions about their career and give them an opportunity to excel and succeed on their chosen career path is remarkable, not to mention the growth which is taking place by dint of partnering with regional colleges.

Like any industry surrounded by rules, regulations, standards and technical compliance, I knew that “learning the language” was going to be tough and, as I write this, I recall wryly that the first thing I asked for when I sat at my desk was a list of industry acronyms for my bedtime reading. Not to mention the number of acronyms which sound the same, but are completely different: BSIA, SIA, NSI, SSAIB… Dare I go on?

One thing, though, is for certain: this is an industry full of people ready and willing to share knowledge, not just with me, but with the wider industry. By doing that, we can all help to really drive British security forward.

So far on my journey, I’ve had some real highlights. I met the chair of the BSIA’s Export Council and we talked about exporting in 2020. The knowledge and insight I’ve already gained from the Security Equipment Manufacturers Section is invaluable, and I’ve heard some amazing Best Practice scenarios and common trends in our Health and Safety/HR Special Interest Group.

Having only joined in the BSIA in November, I also missed a whole host of this year’s go-to events – Section meetings with guest expert speakers talking about subjects ranging from cyber security to cloud services, IFSEC International (the main security exhibition event in the calendar year), the BSIA’s British Security Awards which celebrates security excellence and SaferCash’s National Commercial Robbery Conference exploring more ways for industry and the police to explore how they can work closer together.

Luckily, 2020 is just around the corner and I know these events will come around again sooner than expected. I’ve heard IFSEC International 2020 is going to be bigger and better than ever before. I’m looking forward to taking part and attending a plethora of other events planned for 2020.

Trade Associations within the professional security industry

The members of an organisation like the BSIA are, quite simply, our lifeblood. We wouldn’t exist without them and everything we do is for them. I have worked in the membership services industry for a long time and have seen it all: the good, the bad and the worst.

Even after just one month at the BSIA, I see a really strong mix of dedicated professionals providing a whole host of services from processing enquiries, giving first class technical guidance and updates through to creating fresh, new and exciting content and providing a leading voice in the industry for those whom we need to listen to.

I come to the BSIA armed with one brutal, but very true statement to give to current and potential members for 2020 – you get out what you put in. By joining the BSIA, you give yourself a great opportunity to get ahead of the curve and be part of the voice that shapes our industry. If you take away one thing from reading these words, I urge you let it be this: ‘Engage with your chosen Trade Association’.

Seek any and all opportunities to be involved. This includes attending BSIA Section meetings, reaching out to us on social media, picking up the phone and, most importantly, talking to one another. After all, members have that special chance to be at the heart of the industry. Why not make 2020 the year to really seek the value for membership and be a member, not just an observer.

It’s also refreshing to see lively Section meetings where our members talk about Best Practice and industry standards and engage in debates on what’s affecting their Section and their industry. After all, if they don’t talk to each other, how will the industry grow and strengthen?

It’s not just about one person in a team attending a meeting. There are so many different opportunities for people to participate in, such as providing industry news, thought leadership columns, videos, participating in podcasts or speaking at events and more. This should not deter from the amazing work of creating standards and Best Practice guidance and orchestrating Health and Safety campaigns, etc.

I would say the BSIA is dedicated to moving forward, embracing change and showing our members that we’re a Trade Association of the future and this can be seen with the tireless work currently being carried out on our new website, which is launching in the New Year. It offers a fresh new look and feel which I’m confident will emulate feelings of excitement for 2020.

Collective knowledge

Tom Ford

Tom Ford

What cannot be overstated in my short time here at the BSIA is just how supported I have been. The membership team runs like a well-oiled machine and the collective knowledge used to support the membership base is staggering. I’m eager to meet more people in the industry and find out everything there is to know about why we put our members at the heart of everything that we do.

Finally, I would just like to add something about the amazing work that goes on among security personnel through to SMEs and on again to large businesses to volunteers. The British Security Awards are there for you to be a part of, with no application fee. We’re emphasising the need to celebrate security and industry achievements that deserve recognition and ask you to celebrate with us.

Help your Trade Association to help you and have your voice heard within the professional security industry. After all, you are what makes security and people around the world safe and secure.

Tom Ford is Membership Development Manager at the British Security Industry Association

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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