This is the twelfth 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 Christine Lee, co-founder and managing director of Constant Security Services
Risk Xtra: Can you briefly describe your business’ activities and what you consider to be your USP as an organisation?
Christine Lee: Constant Security Services is an industry-leading supplier of the very highest quality security and support services. We are an independent, family-run, privately-owned and national award-winning business. We are security specialists and do not diversify. The security of our clients is truly our foremost priority.
We have grown for over 30 years and now employ well over 700 colleagues who work on assignments throughout the North and the Midlands. We have industry-leading customer and client retention numbers, which is evidence of our culture of quality, care and responsibility.
Our industry-leading quality management, accreditations, memberships and industry involvement has made us quite a unique company in the marketplace and an exclusive proposition for customers and new colleagues alike.
We are a small company in comparison to the household names in our industry, but this is exciting for us, our clients and our colleagues as we have the ability to move at a fast pace in responding to requests for services and to solve problems. We have become well-known as a company that can respond and is always capable of delivering, often at little or very short notice.
Risk Xtra: What do your clients value most about the services you deliver?
Christine Lee: We believe that our clients most value our immediate ability to respond to any eventuality, with our flat management structure meaning accessibility to all. The openness of our operation allows for no dilution of responsibility.
We also recognise that our customers choose us and remain with us due to our enduring commitment to care and responsibility throughout the business. As a family-run business, we’re dedicated and loyal and this is something that customers and colleagues can really buy into and trust. Our values of care and responsibility in everything we do act as the guiding principles regarding every aspect of our operation.
Risk Xtra: How do you feel accreditations have assisted your company?
Christine Lee: Accreditations have assisted us in really streamlining the business by helping us to understand and recognise areas of the company where improvements could increase our efficiency and improve our service. They have also driven greater understanding of process interconnectivity.
Our accreditations have allowed us to verify to our customers and colleagues that we are a high-quality company that can be trusted. We’ve been able to build our brand as a business around quality standards and accreditations, demonstrating our integrity, professionalism and ongoing commitment to Best Practice and innovation.
Risk Xtra: Specifically, what value does ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval bring to your business and its clients?
Christine Lee: ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval bring credibility. They are both clearly demonstrable and transparent methods by which customers can understand the independent verification of our service offer. They know they will receive the highest quality of service from the company. They will be doing business with a company they can trust.
Risk Xtra: In practice, what are the main differences between ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval?
Christine Lee: The ACS takes an holistic view of the business and hopefully motivates members to recognise real value in areas other than just financial return. The ACS registration is significant as this is a scheme run by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) that has powers to terminate membership in case of poor performance or criminality. The Regulator is not motivated by profit, seeking only to establish and maintain practical basic standards.
From our perspective, NSI Guarding Gold approval is entirely indispensable. Through the Inspectorate, we are able to demonstrate standards that are far higher than those demanded by ACS registration.
Risk Xtra: How do you feel technology has changed the industry over the last couple of years and what do you believe will be the direction of travel in the future?
Christine Lee: The development of CCTV along with remote monitoring capabilities has certainly altered the industry somewhat over the last few years. We have seen a number of traditional static security guarding customers work with us on innovative projects which have resulted in the incorporation of CCTV systems, linked to our CCTV monitoring facility and supported by our mobile response which has resulted in head count rationalisation on sites. This has brought significant cost savings for the end users involved.
In the future, the industry will undoubtedly move towards the increased use of drone and robotic technology. We don’t view technology as a threat to our industry, but rather as a tool that can help us to provide an even higher quality service for the end user customer.
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?
Christine Lee: Reputation is hugely important, but accreditation and certification is vital. Without recognised accreditation, standards and memberships we wouldn’t be invited to tender for many contracts.
However, although there’s a slow change towards better understanding our quality standards among the end user cohort, many tenders still contain simple ‘tick box’-style quality questions and don’t allow suppliers to demonstrate differentiation. Unfortunately, in some cases the criteria involved are clearly price-driven with little consideration for added value and quality of provision.
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?
Christine Lee: Legislation regarding wages and other Terms and Conditions has been very well received and is certainly a good thing up to a point. For those of us who remember the days when staff were forced to work excessive hours to earn reasonable wages, the situation today is dramatically improved.
That said, I’m concerned about the impact on peoples’ career development aspirations when supervisor and managerial differentials are being eroded as they cannot continue to maintain 4% annual increases.
Risk Xtra: What are the most important attributes you look for in your security officers and staff members in general?
Christine Lee: An inability to integrate into a culture that’s friendly, welcoming, collegiate and positive and wherein customers, colleagues and other stakeholders share equal standing.
We are fortunate to have enthusiastic colleagues. After any audit, I’m regularly asked “How did we get on?” by members of staff. I believe that this demonstrates my front line colleagues are truly bought into what we are trying to achieve with the business.
People who succeed in our company are definitely those individuals who can adapt quickly and have that tangible ability to step up a gear when necessary.
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?
Christine Lee: The SIA and the NSI should take pride in their accomplishments to date and the positive changes they have already helped to make in terms of improving this industry.
At times, the industry has attempted to become more collaborative, but unfortunately this still has some way to go. Security companies are of course competitors, but greater co-operation would undoubtedly strengthen us all. It would be great if this is something the NSI could harness.
Regarding business licensing, we are entirely open-minded on this issue. If it can be demonstrated that business licensing will improve the industry and the people working within it then we will absolutely support such a move. If it’s just an expensive ‘token’, we will not.
Time in security business sector
I’m the co-founder of Constant Security Services, which began life in 1981
Location of the business
The company is based in Mexborough, South Yorkshire and serves clients throughout the North and the Midlands. We have sizeable operations in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside, the East Midlands, the West Midlands, Lincolnshire and the North East
Areas of expertise
We provide a wide range of security and support services for our clients including static security guarding, special event stewarding and door supervision, mobile patrols, keyholding and response, open/lock visits, CCTV remote monitoring, security training, risk assessments and security surveying, security screening, integrated services and FM consultancy
Accreditations held by the company
Constant Security Services operates to the highest possible industry and professional standards. Our quality management system is applied to the running of every part of our business such that we can understand, meet and exceed the expectations of our customers
The quality management system operates to ISO 9001:2015, and specifically the Codes of Practice for BS 7499 Static Guarding and Mobile Patrol Services, BS 7858 Security Screening of Personnel, BS 7984 Keyholding and Response Services, BS 7960 Door Supervision, BS 8406 Event Stewarding and Crowd Safety Services and BS 7958 CCTV Management and Operation
We are a Gold Award Member of the National Security Inspectorate and a registered Approved Contractor Scheme business with the Security Industry Authority for the provision of security guarding, keyholding, Public Space CCTV Surveillance and door supervision services
The Business is also a long-standing member of CHAS (The Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme) and ACS Pacesetters
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.