This is the twenty first instalment in a series of articles for the readers of Risk Xtra 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 Jacqui Paice, managing director of Apleona HSG Facility Management UK.
Risk Xtra: Can you briefly describe your business’ activities and what you consider to be your USP as an organisation?
Jacqui Paice: Apleona HSG Facility Management, which is part of the global Apleona Group, is a UK and Ireland provider of integrated facilities management. With a client base that extends across more than 250 UK and Ireland operational sites, we employ circa 3,000 members of staff to deliver service solutions that work for our clients.
Our service solution is tailored to deliver facilities management and workplace services that focus through a model of self-delivery. We provide a full range of hard and soft services for private and public organisations across a range of sectors, including corporate, retail and Shopping Centres, banking, pharmaceuticals, engineering and processing, education, local and central Government and hospitals. Both critical and non-critical environments are covered.
Apleona in the UK and Ireland uniquely benefits from being part of a leading European real estate and facility management company. With this pan-continental support, we’re in the fortunate position of being able to work alongside more than 20,000 colleagues in upwards of 30 countries, delivering the best possible service designed to meet and, ultimately, exceed the needs of our clients.
Risk Xtra: What do your clients value most about the services you deliver?
Jacqui Paice: As a trusted service provider, our clients value how we optimise their workspace and our quality assured self-delivery capability, which is strengthened by smart technology. In addition, our open and honest approach towards business and the reassurance that our service delivery is underpinned by one of Europe’s leading estates and facilities management companies is highly significant.
Risk Xtra: How do you feel accreditations have assisted your company?
Jacqui Paice: The accreditations that Apleona has for the services we provide, for example Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) accreditation with the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and NSI Gold for security, are an indication to potential clients that we provide a high standard of customer service and compliance with security legislation.
In addition, the high marks achieved in the external auditing of the company, placing the business in the Top 5% of all ACS-accredited companies, demonstrates the importance that Apleona as an organisation places on achieving and maintaining this high level of customer service.
Risk Xtra: Specifically, what value does ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval bring to your business and its clients?
Jacqui Paice: SIA ACS approval is not only a source of confidence for buyers of security services as they seek to select a trusted provider, but it also offers an excellent framework for setting, improving and monitoring our own standards. Additionally, it has key links to our certified 9001 Quality Management System.
SIA ACS approval is voluntary and instantly positions our company as having been independently assessed to meet a recognised level of performance. Being approved to SIA ACS demonstrates that Apleona is committed to customer service and the compulsory licensing of our employees.
Jacqui Paice: The SIA introduced the ACS to raise performance standards within the security industry. The ACS is the quality benchmark within security, and sets out criteria that companies must adhere to in order to be SIA ACS registered. This is referred to as the Standard approval.
Apleona is further accredited to NSI Guarding Gold that enables the company to apply for the ACS accreditation via the passport scheme, which is officially defined as follows:
Under Routes to Approval on its website, the SIA explains: “An accredited ACS passport scheme is an alternative to the standard route to approval via a scheme managed entirely by an assessing body. A passport scheme has additional requirements and benefits and adds value to the private security industry businesses. Assessment bodies (of which the NSI is one of only four) are able to certificate businesses against a variety of standards independently to us. Some relate specifically to the security industry, while others are more general business or quality standards. A passport scheme will specify the standards required and any other criteria required to be met in order to achieve certification. These are often called approval criteria.”
The definition continues: “The assessment body will compare its passport scheme requirements to those of the ACS. Where there are gaps, it must address these. The assessment body will do this by specifying additional requirements. These are often referred to in a separate document called a passport specification. A range of standards, together with the assessment body’s other criteria and passport specification together make up their ACS passport scheme. This is the passport scheme we have accredited as being equivalent to or better than the ACS standard route. Where the assessment body has assessed a business against its passport scheme, and the business has met the passport scheme requirements, the assessing body will then issue a passport certificate. This certificate can then be submitted to us as part of an ACS application.”
It should be noted that NSI Gold accreditation is recognised as the most stringent accreditation to obtain in the security industry. In addition, NSI Gold approval signifies that, as well as complying with industry-specific standards, a company operates a Quality Management System (no written QMS is required under the ACS, only that an organisation will have to demonstrate to an assessor how its chosen methods are effective in delivering high levels of customer satisfaction and a sustainable business) and is compliant with BS EN 9001.
Jacqui Paice: Technology has provided a potentially safer working environment for security personnel, a good example of which is the radio-based ‘Man Down’ system used primarily by lone workers. ‘Man Down’ uses a tilt-switch (special motion sensors) in the radio which can detect and alarm in the following circumstances: when the user isn’t moving, when the user is moving more than what’s considered to be normal and when the radio is positioned in different angle than usual for defined period of time.
Another good example of technology bringing about positive change is through body-worn video cameras whereby the wearer activates the system when they feel they’re entering into potential conflict situations. This system not only records what’s seen, but also what’s said and ensures that the wearer acts in a correct and proper manner while also providing vital evidence to the police and wider authorities should this be required.
Security innovations in the future will concentrate on cyber security, access control systems to include intruder alarm security, enhancements to CCTV systems – for example, facial recognition that’s 100% accurate – counter-terrorism measures and a form of technology that could potentially remove the need for a physical security presence in its entirety.
Risk Xtra: When it comes to negotiating contracts and responding to tender requests, what aspects are of most value to customers and how are these changing?
Jacqui Paice: For many customers, it must be said that price, value for money and the quality of service being delivered by competent and skilled staff remain the most important aspects. However, innovation – often through the introduction of new technologies – is now increasingly important to many of our customers.
In order to ensure that we deliver the best possible bespoke service to our clients, Apleona continuously looks to fully understand the culture, vision, values and unique circumstances of each potential partner organisation. The simple fact is there’s no ‘off-the-shelf’ solution for any client and this is precisely why we wouldn’t offer one.
Apleona aims to be the best in everything that we do and we continuously look to develop innovative approaches to enhance our service provision, such as our award-winning Ops 9 system handheld technology solution employed on behalf of UK clients including Shopping Centres.
Risk Xtra: How has Government legislation (eg the National Minimum Wage, the National Living Wage and changes to holiday pay) affected your business? Do you believe such legislation is a good thing for this industry?
Jacqui Paice: The National Minimum Wage, the National Living Wage and changes to holiday pay have most certainly affected the business in respect of placing additional pressures upon the ongoing challenge of supporting clients for whom cost control remains an increasingly high priority.
As an organisation that places the people delivering our services at the heart of everything that we do, Apleona supports legislation that ensures that those who work for us are rewarded with fair rates of pay rising in line with inflation. Indeed, Apleona has worked with its clients to go further than the required legislation and, for example, looks to pay the Living Wage to our employees.
Risk Xtra: What are the most important attributes you look for in your security officers and staff members in general?
Jacqui Paice: Apleona firmly believes that our teams and individuals are the face of our company. They’re responsible for the delivery of our services day in, day-out and are the most obvious touch point for our clients.
With this very firmly in mind, we look to recruit the appropriate talent for all of our roles and, as well as the absolute core competencies of being professional, honest, having integrity, possessing good communication skills and being adaptable to challenging situations, our ‘Apleona Values’ help to identify what might be termed the additional ‘X-Factor’ that makes for a special employee.
With the ‘Apleona Values’ we target three key areas: ‘Attitude’, ‘Performance’ and ‘Style’. Through these, ‘We Champion Individuality’, ‘We Create Real Impact’ and ‘We Strive To Inspire’. By way of our internal awards programme, the ‘Apleona All-Stars’, we continually recognise and reward those who best demonstrate these key attributes. This helps to ensure that our teams and individuals embody what Apleona stands for as an organisation.
Risk Xtra: 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 planned introduction of business licensing be a positive step?
Jacqui Paice: This can be achieved by the Regulator and the Inspectorate engaging in regular dialogue and consultation with those involved in the provision of security services. Through this, the SIA and the NSI will be in a position to listen to the concerns of such organisations, while at the same time keeping up-to-date in regards to changes in technology that may affect the legislation. They can also learn about some of the restrictions encountered by companies in complying with that legislation.
As yet, there’s still no date set as to when business licensing will come into effect. However when it does we believe that it will be a positive step. The requirement for all security services providers to demonstrate that they’re ‘fit and proper’ to adequately supply such services for clients can only be positive for the quality and reputation of the industry and will prove to be further progress beyond the present system of ‘badges’ for security officers, CCTV operators, door supervisors and the voluntary ACS.
Among the factors regarding whether or not a business will gain a licence is ‘integrity’, a word which (as the advice document sets out) covers not only facts such as SIA ‘compliance actions’ against a firm or going insolvent, but matters of opinion such as ‘any significant complaints against the business’.
To gain a licence, any business and its ‘controlling minds’ will also have to show ‘financial probity’ and pass criminal record checks ‘in relation to all controlling minds’ even if individuals have already been subject to such checks for individual SIA licences. Therefore, it can be expected that business licensing will provide a further degree of comfort to clients that the provider is ‘fit and proper’ to provide the service, while also being financially sound.
Time in security business sector
Occupied senior FM roles within the business for more than eight years. Promoted to managing director for UK FM, a Board position, in June 2019
Location of the business
UK and Ireland-wide with head offices in London and Dublin
Areas of expertise
Apleona employs trained and qualified security officers who patrol car parks, monitor Control Rooms, deliver key holding services, manage loading bays, security-check visitors and provide access control
NSI Guarding Gold, SIA Approved Contractor, SafeContractor, OHSAS 18001, CHAS, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, Investors in People, Member of the International Professional Security Association, Member of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management
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.