This is the twentieth 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 this time around is Neill Catton, managing director at CIS Security.
Risk Xtra: Can you briefly describe your business’ activities and what you consider to be your USP as an organisation?
Neill Catton: CIS Security is an independent security company equipped to help clients solve the complex challenges to be found in today’s digital, connected and regulated business world. We focus on security guarding with leading experts in door supervision, static guarding, CCTV surveillance, key holding and alarm response.
Alongside guarding, we’ve diversified our business with two additional divisions: CIS Front of House, providing Front of House and reception services and CIS Innovative Solutions. The latter delivers a comprehensive set of solutions involving digital, physical and strategic inputs designed to provide our clients with a seamless approach to their security needs.
Originally established for security audits and investigations by former police officers in 1969, CIS Security has since developed into one of the most reliable and solid security companies in the UK. We’ve achieved our growth organically. New business over the years has come from recommendations from clients who appreciate the stability, service levels and continuity provided.
We have a wealth of knowledge and experienced gained over 50 years. We believe we should do everything in-house and have achieved this by bringing experts into our team. Be it payroll, intelligence, training or operations, the feeling of belonging and commitment to the brand has created our Intellectual Property as a whole.
One of our main strengths is exceptional client satisfaction. We make sure to keep our clients in mind for any investment and decision we make, and we pull out all the stops to make the satisfaction of our clients paramount.
By constantly focusing on empowering our people, we can count on a very loyal and committed workforce. This starts at the top where there’s a solid team of directors and managers. We’re a service-focused organisation and people truly are at the heart of everything we do. This has resulted in high employee retention and customer satisfaction. Passion, determination and leadership are our core values and they’re ingrained within the hearts and minds of everyone at CIS Security.
Neill Catton: Today’s security landscape is more complex than ever, requiring leadership and management of security operations, addressing personnel, property, facilities, information and business continuity. Our clients keep choosing us because they value how all our services and operations are specifically designed around their needs.
Clients greatly appreciate the quality we provide and our pristine reputation as a good corporate citizen that engages and supports local communities through proactive social programmes aimed at enhancing inclusion and diversity in our industry.
We’re aware that merely delivering a service does not make the cut and our dedication to deliver excellence in everything we do and to recognise the commitment of our people is a further unique selling point that makes us stand out from the crowd.
Risk Xtra: How do you feel accreditations have assisted your company?
Neill Catton: Professional integrity extends to everything at CIS Security and each of us shares in the responsibility of maintaining high business standards. The accreditations we hold embody our commitment to increase our reliability and conduct our business in accordance with all applicable laws and the highest industry standards.
Powered by excellence and driven by quality, we work closely with our clients and help them to achieve their long-term strategy and ensure high-calibre security delivery and management. Over the years, we’ve achieved a great number of industry accreditations that stand as a further and, most importantly, independent testament to our continuous dedication to excellence.
Effective security controls, standards, policies and procedures ensure that our clients are in safe hands when they choose CIS Security as their security provider.
Neill Catton: Evidence of governance and quality standards. The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has been through a tough journey to reach the point at which it finds itself today. Long-standing companies like ourselves have collaborated with the SIA on that journey and are committed to what the organisation stands for.
The Approved Contractor Scheme and NSI Guarding Gold, an accreditation that we’re very proud to have achieved, enable us to use the performance criteria as a business tool. They both encourage us to continually evaluate and improve our performance and business practices, as well as allowing us to showcase all of the outstanding work that our passionate and determined security professionals achieve on a daily basis.
Risk Xtra: In practice, what are the main differences between ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval?
Neill Catton: NSI Guarding Gold is a highly-recognised accreditation in our industry and allows our customers to feel that, when choosing an NSI Gold-approved company, they’re opting for a progressive supplier with robust Quality Management Systems in place and the relevant knowledge of standards necessary to drive continual improvement in performance, efficiency and customer service.
The leadership team within the NSI is approachable and open about standards expectations in the guidance they provide. They establish a relationship with the supplier from the outset of the audit process which sets them apart from similar organisations.
ACS registration and scoring achievement is a fundamental business requirement, whereas we see NSI Guarding Gold accreditation as more of a journey towards the delivery of Best-in-Class services.
Neill Catton: At CIS Security we’re acutely aware of the increasing importance of intelligent communications and keeping abreast of the latest technologies enables us to provide a strategic framework for risk assessment and security delivery in what’s now a device-driven world.
Over the last couple of years, digitisation, the Internet of Things and data analysis have been playing a crucial role in our industry. New technologies are today’s digital nervous system, collecting vast amounts of data and feeding it into an ever-expanding network. Mobile devices and computers act like organs to a huge brain that has to then process all of this information. Data analysis is still widely carried out by human intelligence, but Artificial Intelligence is fast becoming more and more autonomous or needs the bare minimum of manual guidance.
We feel that a wider automation is going to gain increased importance as security companies may decide to cut operational costs and invest more in technology products. However, this in itself is both an opportunity and a risk. Data sharing via multiple devices in increasingly shorter timeframes implies exponentially greater risks which lead, therefore, to a more sophisticated and varied security posture.
Never in the past business evolution has it been so fundamental to reap the benefits from fast-paced technologies to stay competitive in a connected world.
Neill Catton: Dealing with increasing public expectations and scrutiny, doubled with rising pressures to deliver more for less, we’ve developed the right skill set to anticipate our clients’ needs and, therefore, provide greater efficiencies. However, we feel that, in today’s corporate world, bidding for new business is no longer just about providing a service to someone willing to pay for it. We steer away from the traditional tender process aimed at outlining lists of mere services.
We’re aware that the core of our business is our human capital and focusing on the people side of what we do is becoming more and more important because it guarantees employee loyalty and high staff retention rates. For our clients as well, they want to partner with responsible businesses that look after their staff.
This is also mirrored in the business relationships themselves. Rather than just seeking service suppliers, tenders are now aimed at finding advisors, consultants and, ultimately, truly genuine partners that can recommend Best Practices for successful outcomes and more sustainable operations and services.
Corporate Social Responsibility, and especially that which is focused on people development and environmental safeguarding, is becoming widely recognised as fundamental to the bid process.
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?
Neill Catton: CIS Security is an accredited Living Wage service provider. We actively encourage our clients to adopt National Living and London Living Wages as a minimum. This legislation has assisted us in negotiating better pay rates for our teams. The Living Wage also supports the industry in attracting a wider pool of talent when recruiting.
Applicants with a diverse range of skills and varying backgrounds are more likely to apply for careers in security. Historically, those applicants may have avoided the industry due to non-competitive pay.
We firmly believe the National and London Living Wage legislation has been a positive and key contributor to the industry’s widening talent pool.
Neill Catton: We employ people who show the dedication and commitment our clients expect and it’s only by truly empowering and encouraging the development of every team member that we can go above and beyond industry standards. While recruiting we’re discerning. We seek people with the personality that can be the right fit for both our employees and clients. We also have rigorous pre-employment procedures to thoroughly assess applicants and adhere to BS 7858 vetting standards. Retaining our people is one of our biggest strengths.
We encourage emotional intelligence skills as a vital component of our business management philosophy. As our industry evolves, so do the personality traits needed to excel within it. Team building and adaptation to change are key attributes for ‘The CIS Family’.
We focus heavily on developing people from within and we support them through specific mentoring programmes as part of our succession planning model. Ultimately, we apply a fundamental psychological principle: we acknowledge and reinforce those behaviours that we want to see more frequently by showing authentic recognition.
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?
Neill Catton: We feel that the SIA and the NSI are the umbrella for setting standards within the contract security industry and, at CIS Security, we agree that business licensing should be mandatory to ensure that companies providing security services have been licensed at a regulated standard as being “fit for purpose” for delivering such services to private and public sector organisations as well as the wider public.
To reduce the risk to such services, it’s fundamental that licence holders are not restricted to just the front line staff carrying out the duties by the organisations that have overall responsibility for providing such services and implementing company policies including Health and Safety, corporate governance and processes.
With the SIA approving businesses for business licensing and the NSI conducting vigorous compliance audit checks, clients and the wider public will have greater confidence in security service providers.
If front line licence holders need to meet SIA licensing requirements to be granted their licence, the same should apply to businesses.
We do feel that the SIA can do more to support recruitment into the private security industry and maybe some form of public facing exposure, not just B2B, on the career opportunities and pride of being a security professional should be considered.
Time in security business sector
30 years’ experience with involvement at all levels of the security guarding sector. Responsible for the service delivery and management of a diverse range of sectors including financial, education, corporate, Government, transport and retail. Covered the roles of security officer, supervisor, account manager and business manager before becoming managing director at CIS Security.
Key focus on customer service and operational strength through developing successful relationships at all levels.
Member of ASIS UK, The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals, the City of London Crime Prevention Association and the newly-formed City Security Council. Driven to ensure that CIS Security is fully exposed to industry developments and a contributory partner within the industry at large
Location of the business
CIS Security is based in the London Borough of Lewisham
Areas of expertise
CIS Security focuses on security guarding, CCTV surveillance, key holding and alarm response as well as Front of House and reception services. We also provide a comprehensive set of security solutions – encompassing digital, physical and strategic – for a seamless approach to any security needs
NSI Guarding Gold, SIA Approved Contractor, ISO 14001:2015, ISO 9001:2015, OHSAS 18001:2007, SafeContractor, Cyber Essentials, ConstructionLine, Living Wage Foundation
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.