Frontline Security Equipment By Philip Ingram MBE

As pressure grows on security budgets there is always a clamour to do more with less and that often translates into more kit, less people. However, the security world is potentially about to be thrown into a degree of turmoil when it comes to standards, training, numbers and activities, with the introduction of the new Protect Duty or Martyn’s Law.

The new legislation hasn’t been published yet so is unlikely to come into law until late 2023 but people are already preparing and one thing is certain, when technology can help it is likely to be brought to play.

The “basic “must have” kit for security officers hasn’t and won’t change for security officers. A small notebook, black pen, torch for nights and a reliable 2-way radio or mobile phone are and will remain essential. However, often this just isn’t enough.

“Many door supervisors and response officers now carry a form of offender marking spray which uses synthetic DNA to match offenders to recorded crimes. Body Worn Video is becoming more widespread as it has been identified as the most effective means to deter violence. Torches with audible sirens and strobe light functions are replacing more traditional fare,” says Rollo Davis.

In a blog, James Brown, Managing Director of Selectamark’s team said, “Commercial guards and patrol officers working for Venture Security across the UK have been carrying the sprays to provide an extra layer of protection as they go about their day-to-day work making sure people, stock, equipment, and premises are safe.”

James added, “Knowing that an attack on someone carrying a SelectaDNA spray comes with a higher rate of conviction, means that criminals are less likely to commit the crime in the first place – drastically reducing incidents of theft and attack.”

Paul Howe, Managing Director of Venture Security, said: “The spray gives our officers confidence that they have the means to act positively in situations where they might not necessarily be able to restrain offenders.”

However, it is still apparent that some front-line officers purchase their own equipment including slash and stab proof clothing.”  In a Violence in the Security Industry Survey concluded by the Working the Doors team last year they identified that, “36% of frontline security staff are physically attacked monthly and 65% of our respondents were resigned to the fact that violence within the security industry was inevitable.”

Rick Mountfield, former Chief Executive of The Security Institute, commented in the survey saying, “Often protectors become the targets of anger. Their role places them at the epicentre of conflict that is, all too often, fuelled by alcohol or substance abuse. These risks are accepted as part of the job of protector but that does not mean it is acceptable.”

So where is all of this going? Christian Watts, Director Fire & Security Systems, Business Services at Mitie said, “The future success of the security industry will be become increasingly reliant on technology to address complex issues and the ever-changing threat and risk landscape.  Together with traditional physical security measures, the adoption of new innovative technologies including AI and Deep Learning analytics solutions will provide organisations with the data and intelligence to react and respond to security incidents in a decisive and informed manner”.  

Doug Sear, Director of Sales at Emergency Protection and Tactical Drones, explained some of the innovative equipment’s he is seeing and can supply, “Bolawrap is an innovative less-lethal device that can safely restrain a subject without resorting to pain compliance by wrapping a subject’s limbs thereby causing them to fall over or not be able to use their arms. We are also supplying BRINC drones giving first responders eyes and ears inside structures to make life-saving decisions and keep people safe by sending in the drone first. They are ruggedised indoor quadcopters that can breach windows and doors, locate people, deploy payloads and have a two-way conversation. There are many more new and exciting technologies that we are aware of that can help and help protect security staffs.”

Rollo Davis added, “there are now lone worker safety, tracking and monitoring devices such as Salus, available, allowing real time GPS locating and biometric monitoring of a wearer’s health. There is also a worrying increase in the use of items such as “tactical” pens. Sturdy metal devices with a self-defence value. After appropriate training the use of handcuffs and restraints is a direct result of extended police response times, and now commonplace in several sectors. There are also calls to allow trained and licenced security officers to be authorised to use pepper spray in rare circumstances.” “Some worrying times ahead,” he concludes.

With the constraints on police numbers and the potential extra requirements for security staffs once the new Protect Duty comes into play, it is clear equipment will become more important to ensure more can be done with less. It is refreshing to hear though that notebook, pen, torch, and radio are and will remain the most essential equipment.

It is exciting to hear of many of the new technologies however, given the Violence in the Security Industry Survey also identified that “68% of respondents said they had not received any on-going training after gaining their SIA license,” the potential training burden and associated costs for new kit could prove prohibitive unless the cost of providing security rises. Key to this is what will be mandated in the new Protect Duty.

Philip Ingram MBE

Philip Ingram MBE is an internationally renown defence and security journalist and consultant. Building on a long and distinguished military career, retiring as a full Colonel, after performing intelligence, counter-intelligence, security and planning roles whilst on active service. He is also the man behind the hugely respected, Grey Hare Media. Philip is a strategic thinker and recognised subject matter expert on issues of international security, defence and geo political events…..