The Changing Role of a Security Officer Post Lockdown

Security personnel play a vital role in the UK’s infrastructure and are both familiar and welcomed at stores, sites and premises. 

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As the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought substantial changes to our routines and way of living, so too has the healthcare crisis impacted the demand and role of security officers.

Security Officer Key Functions

To analyse the impact on this job role, let’s first examine the fundamental purposes and functions of a member of security personnel.

Primary roles include:

  • Patrolling premises and ensuring their security.
  • Monitoring CCTV systems and surveillance equipment.
  • Allowing premises access to authorised individuals.
  • Raising alarms and alerting the authorities in an emergency.
  • Directing traffic and visitors.
  • Record keeping and monitoring irregularities.
  • Monitoring building controls and processes for access to equipment and facilities.
  • Ensuring premises comply with mandatory requirements.
  • Dog patrols units and drug detection

As the world has been thrown into uncertainty, this traditional role has adapted, with security officers often at the front-line of public communications, and implementing new procedures.

Supermarkets are a prime example. Before the pandemic, a security officer would carry out all of the above functions, and respond primarily to incidents of shoplifting, anti-social behaviour or other disturbances.

The way we shop and interact has changed fundamentally. Security officers have been on hand to help pave the way for the smooth implementation of new processes and to engage with staff and visitors to help share understanding about how these new rules will work.

New Security Officer Roles Post COVID-19

Security officer hire has skyrocketed as the role of a security officer has changed. Some of the most common ways in which security personnel roles have had to adapt include:

  • The increased presence of security officers to prevent any breach of safety regulations.
  • Supporting staff at public sites and retail outlets to address any resistance or objections to requirements.
  • Ensuring and enforcing conditions such as social distancing and limiting the number of visitors accessing a place at any one time.
  • Managing crowd control systems to ensure venues can operate safely.
  • Helping vulnerable service users to have access, such as assisting the elderly, in designated shopping hours.
  • Increased mobile patrols to maintain the security of premises that are not operational.
  • Expanded duties to include monitoring fire safety facilities particularly for commercial sites that have been closed during the lockdown.
  • The broader scope of patrol areas to include parking facilities and open spaces.
  • Screening of visitors to ensure they are compliant with the processes in place.

Many of these new functions are an expansion on the typical security officer role, which is mainly to protect the security of premises or resources and the safety of staff on site.

However, the security role has transitioned into one with a more communicative basis and one that demands a strong ability to maintain order, manage disruptions or confusion about how the world we live in is changing, and to support more vulnerable members of our society in adapting.

These skill sets have always been an essential part of the job in such a public-facing role. Yet, now as the sector expands to meet demand, security officers have become more valuable than ever in helping UK businesses to keep running smoothly in the post-pandemic months.

A revised skill set for security officers or marshalls

When it comes to the security of your business and assets, having the presence of a officer has always been a visible deterrent to any illegal or unsolicited behaviour. 

Now, this role is even more essential, as the first point of contact, a source of information and a person who can guide visitors and staff as they adjust to new working practices.

As such, the vital communicative skills required in this role have become more prominent. Security personnel skill sets include:

  • Having excellent judgement and being objective to resolve disturbances calmly.
  • Using emotional control to avoid being reactive.
  • Safety management skills.
  • Being dependable, reliable and having integrity.
  • A professional attitude and ability to keep records.
  • The ability to competently manage uncertain or stressful situations.
  • Having the skills to communicate clearly and effectively with a wide range of service users.
  • An authoritative nature to competently take control of incidents.

Demand for Security Staff in 2020

The demand for skilled security staff and manned guarding has increased significantly throughout the pandemic, with businesses and commercial premises needing additional support. This relates to securing empty premises, monitoring sites when unstaffed, and providing a front of house point of contact for service users.

As rules relating to crowd control, social distancing and limitations on the way we interact continue to change and evolve, it seems certain that this crucial role will continue to be at the forefront of helping UK businesses to continue to trade safely and securely.

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About the Author: Michael Alexander