My Security Career. Where Do I Start? by Nicholas Reed

My Career in Security…. Where do I start???

                A question relevant to both me writing this article and also my journey through the myriad of professional security associations and groups in the UK and beyond.

So how did all this come about?

                Having followed a fairly well established and expected route through school and university, I graduated and found myself for the first time at something of a loss as to what I actually wanted to do. A brief dabble in the IT world ruled this out for me, so I returned to university to further my education and contemplate life. During this time, I started working a variety of ad-hoc security roles to fund my mature(ish) student life. This was before the days of licensing, so sector jumping and picking up ad-hoc assignments and experience was a breeze… it was all about networking.

                And the outcome of this return to university? I had awakened an unrealised passion for the world of security work.

                So as alluded to previously, I worked through a range of frontline roles gaining both experience and opinions about how the industry was run. I progressively advance my career and started realising that there were professional bodies and associations for our profession.

                But which to join?

                What was the point anyway?

                If I’m honest, my first experiences were both negative and elitist. I was literally snubbed by one of the bodies for presumably not being in the right executive circles. I joined another, but found they were very inward facing and I didn’t really get much of value from them. Besides, all their events were London based and being on a typical miserly security manager’s wage, I struggled with both the time-off and the cost of trips to the capital.

                The outcome of this… it steeled my commitment to bring about a change of approach.

                Thankfully many of the security bodies also had the same self-realisation and followed a pathway to maturity and inclusivity; opening their doors and becoming the supportive and welcome institutions that they are today.

                And with a personal move into the niche of healthcare security management, so my journey with NAHS began.

                I initially joined NAHS to benefit from the peer network within the specialised field of healthcare security. This was warm and forthcoming, but if I am honest, I found the rest of the operational aspects of the association to be a little inconsistent and based entirely on good will. Having attend a few of the NAHS events (all in London!!) I decided that rather than be a side-line critic I would put my money where my mouth was and get involved. Better to be in it to win it, or in this case to change it.

                So, at the 2016 AGM I put myself forward for the board of NAHS and joined a small but fantastic team of genuinely well intended and dedicated Board members. These board members though were working on a voluntary basis, outside their day jobs and security management in the health sector is a manic profession supporting 24/7 hospital, ambulance and mental health operations with workloads frequently exceeding 60-70 hours per week by voluntary effort. So the fact the existing board were achieving anything for NAHS was nothing short of a miracle.

NAHS – History

The National Association for Healthcare Security (NAHS) was formed in 1994, as a UK non profit making professional organisation. The NAHS operates in a single national network headed by the Association’s Chairman supported by a board of directors who form the NAHS Executive Committee. The Association’s aim is to support and enable healthcare provision through the delivery of professional security management; promoting and ensuring members are best placed and equipped to provide a safe and secure environment for their organisations staff, patients and all visitors. This process ultimately enhances and improves staff well-being and the healthcare environment, along with improving the quality of a patient’s treatment ‘journey’.

                Have previously undertaken organisation change and restructuring, the Chair, Jayne King, asked me to look at the NAHS structure and suggest improvements that would facilitate some of the changes I wanted to see from the professional association I was a member of, and now also a Board member of.

                I scoped the other professional associations and sought independent expert advice from consultants in the field of professional bodies and presented a proposal to the NAHS board that identified several potential future structures and operating models. My recommendation was to pursue charitable status as NAHS purposes closely aligned to those of a charity and public benefit and becoming a registered charity would bring notable benefits for NAHS and its constituent members.

                This was provisionally approved by the board for further development, so after more research and scoping I recommended becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, in the form of a registered association. This seemed the most appropriate model to achieve charitable status and to continue the good work of the past 20+years.

                This was proposed to the membership at the 2017 AGM and received a resounding vote to proceed. Thereafter followed 18months of preparation and reconfiguration. With several new board members coming on board, NAHS direction of travel picked up pace.

                Our intention was to introduce new governance frameworks and methods of operation, to align us to the requirements of a register charity with day to day operations that were complaint and embedded, and then apply for the registration approval with the Charity Commission. Along the way it became apparent that several other areas needed addressing, not least aligning our constitution to the requirements of the Charity Commission, taking control of our aged IT infrastructure and making it fit for purpose and redeveloping our existing website to modernise it and provide a platform for collaboration and exchange across our peer network.

                The inclusion of NAHS within the Security Commonwealth and establishment of working relationships with both Security Institute and ASIS were significant steps forward, together with advancing relationships and co-operative work streams with the RCN, Unison and Royal College of Psychologists allowed inclusion of healthcare security interests in, and collaborative development of initiatives effecting healthcare staff generally and mental health related patient care practices.

                2017 saw the beginning of the demise and wind down the of the NHS’s national security standards and regulation body – NHS Protect, as they took on a solely counter fraud stance. NAHS stepped up to the plate and took a representative seat on the body looking at the future national training requirements and qualifications for healthcare security managers. NAHS also engaged as a consultative partner in Department of Health and NHS England initiatives to review and update the national standards for healthcare security providers.

                During the same period, NAHS engaged with the SIA in reviewing the national licensing framework and the training needs for healthcare security officers, which established a strong working relationship with the SIA. With the review of the ‘Secured By Design’ guidance for Hospitals (last published in 2005), NAHS became a natural stakeholder and partner in the revision of the guidance to produce a new standard, encompassing all Healthcare Premises (which is due for publishing soon).

                In order to broaden our inclusivity, NAHS moved our annual conference and AGM to a more central and accessible UK location in Birmingham. The conferences took an increasingly professional feel with internationally acclaimed guest speakers of direct relevance to the field of healthcare security, carefully balanced with speakers on broad topics, to ensure our members stayed current in the wider industry and avoided becoming a silo. We also introduced frequent surveys and discussions with members for their wants and desired direction for their association and began the process of establishing regional representation. The NAHS’s members only co-operation platform and discussion boards have shown ever increasing levels of traffic and mutually supportive exchange between our members and 2019 saw NAHS official inclusion in, and adoption, of the Security Institute CPD program to allow our members to record and be recognised for their continuous professional development. Education and development being key fundamental purposes to NAHS existence. NAHS training programs.

                And that brings us to the present time. With blessing of the 2019 AGM, the NAHS Executive Board completed the finishing touches to aligning NAHS to the governance compliance for charitable operation and took a mandate from our members to increase proactivity in meaningful representation of the interests of Healthcare Security on the national agenda and the further development of national security management standards for operations and training in healthcare security.

                After a short operation abeyance due to the pressures of COVID19, during which the NAHS Directors focused on supporting our over stretched operational members through the challenges that coronavirus brought to the healthcare system, the formal application was made to the Charity Commission for the granting of charitable status. At the time of writing this application is in process with positive indications.

                We have had to make some difficult decisions too, and workload pressures have resulted in changes to executive personnel and the decision to modify our annual conference for 2020 from a physical conference to a virtual one due to COVID19 and resultant pressures on the healthcare system. We hope to still provide a physical conference too, with this being scheduled for Feb 2021.

So what of the future?

                NAHS has established its board of charity Trustees and recently realigned its executive posts to best utilise the skills and resource strengths of the team, which currently consists of

  • President = Jayne King (Trustee)
  • Past President = Peter Finch
  • Chair = Roger Ringham (Trustee)
  • Vice Chair = Ron Gregory (Trustee)
  • Treasure = Diane Lee (Trustee)
  • Secretary = Charlotte Parks
  • Executive Director = John Curry  (PR, IT, Membership and Data Controller)
  • Executive Director = Martin Lomas  (Membership and Operation Support)
  • Executive Director = Nicholas Reed  (Charity Chief Operating Officer and Governance) (Trustee)

                Other honourable mentions must go to other key figures who have held Executive Board positions and significantly contributed to the development of NAHS to its current position, over the past 3years

  • Mike Lees
  • Richard Smith
  • Neil Shanks
  • Martin Nicholas
  • Sean Keown

                And of course our members, without whom there would be no association and whose continuous professional efforts in the face of adversity, maintain safe and secure environments and continuity of services for the provision of healthcare across the UK, in both the public and private sectors.

                In light of the success of webinars and virtually hosted conferences and seminars, it is the NAHS’s intention to develop further training and education inputs in the form of online CPD events for our members. The intention being to increase the availability of CPD throughout the year and also the accessibility of this online.

                In terms of NAHS fit with the other professional security associations and bodies, I have already mentioned the working relationships with SyI and ASIS. NAHS also sits on the Security Commonwealth, the body unify the plethora of security bodies in the UK. NAHS has establish professional relationships with the IAHSS internationally and with ISRM.

                With the recent launch of the UK Chapter of the IFPO, NAHS has established a MoU with the IFPO and I sit on the IFPO UK Advisory Board. We envisage future close working relationships and synergies, as the IFPO as an educational foundation seeks to develop security and protection operatives at all levels, so directly aligning with the development of operational frontline security professionals under the management of many of our healthcare security managers.

                Similar, with the recent launch of the Guild of Security Industry Professionals (GoSIP), I have been included in newly formed steering group of professional stakeholders to represent the interests of healthcare security. The Guild is directly relevant as a peer support organisation and lobbying body, representing the converged interests of the hundreds of thousands of security professionals across all sectors of the security industry, so holds many mutual interests to NAHS. With strength in numbers we intend to work closely together over the coming months and years.

And the purpose of this article..?

                To outline my personal journey in professional security associations in general and within NAHS in particular. To highlight the recent development and future strategy of NAHS. And most importantly, to demonstrate what can be achieved within professional associations with enthusiast commitment and a little perseverance.

                My hope is my journey might inspire others, whatever their rank or status, to reach out and connect with relevant professional associations in the security field and put their ideas forward. I hope my story serves as proof that it can be done.

                The first step is the most daunting, from there on, the momentum just keeps building!

                That only leave the question of which of the professional associations and bodies are relevant to each reader, and how they interconnect. This will be covered in a future article…

To find out more about NAHS, please visit our website at or look me up on LinkedIn

Nicholas Reed ASMS, MSc, MSyI, MIPSA, TechIOSH

Nic is a great friend to TPSO magazine and indeed, the Guild of Security Industry Professionals.

He’s been in the security industry for 20+ years now, and has worked on the frontline in most sectors (now licensable domains). During his career he has been a trainer, a consultant and now holds the professional position as the head of security for an NHS trust.

Beyond this Nic is a director for the National Association of Healthcare Security (NAHS) and is involved within both the Security Institute and IFPO in the representation of member interests. He is also known to frequent social media and to have been involved in several consultation pieces at national level, effecting the rights and representation of security professionals and in shaping legislation and standards of direct application to our profession.