In the early 1980’s as a young Police Constable, I witnessed the explosion of heroin addiction that changed the way that crimes had been perpetrated for centuries. Up until then, most criminals had an aspect of aspiration in the way they committed thefts or burglary. Items were stolen mostly for the exchange of hard cash and the payoffs were used to enable the criminal to have a better life in the eyes of their associates – whether that was alcohol, cars, relationships or a better standard of living.
Crimes were acquisitive and the proceeds of crime were ‘handled’ with stolen items often ‘stashed’ until they could be realised for cash. Villains were mostly fit and healthy and would have the determination and stamina to ‘fight or flight’.
The widespread use of heroin changed criminals overnight and I often say that the job went from the ‘Wild West’ to the ‘Living Dead’ virtually overnight. Items stolen were no longer retained for any length of time as those addicted to heroin craved their next fix. Offences of burglaries in dwellings went through the roof as very few properties were fitted with intruder alarms and many houses had louvre kitchen windows and plywood back doors panels. Society and its ‘castles’ was not ready for what occurred and for a few years had no solution whatsoever.
During the same years, the theft of motor vehicles and theft from motor vehicle crime figures also rose at an incredible rate. Again, the vast proportion of cars had rudimentary security measures and criminals took advantage.
A solution was needed and it was only in the mid 1980’s that intruder alarms in dwellings became commonplace and car manufacturers developed adequate security systems.
Fifteen years ago, the security industry changed from being a provider of services to a provider of solutions. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with that of course and it was an attempt by the industry to market itself as intelligent and focussed. The Security Industry Act gave the industry credibility and a purpose and there was a feeling that professionalism at last would flourish.
At the same time, there was a shift within the police service from prevention to reduction. A concerted effort to reduce the number of crimes instead of the tried and tested method of giving the public advice on preventing them. Albeit that subtle shift appeared to be the same thing it was a more targeted and modern approach and based around the constant political battle with published statistics.
In the times, we live in now we all know that the threats to our society, workplaces, homes and leisure activities are always with us and the carefree times we once lived in will never be the same again. Almost every public event and public space is quite rightly governed by the need to prevent terrorist acts. Cyber crimes are quite righty becoming a major concern across the globe.
We are an industry which overall always puts its clients first, and those companies who are successful often swear by this mantra. When offering a solution, the vast majority of these companies are sincere and have a desire to give their clients the best service they can.
There are however still serious shortfalls in how this industry becomes complacent with its clients. I see every day security companies who concentrate on growing too fast and then fail to give their clients an adequate service. Junior contract managers are overloaded with work and cannot cope with operational demands.
Alongside this, the industry has mostly failed in their obligation to encourage and equip their staff through continuous training. There has been little or no assistance from the SIA in this, who after all, were a body supposedly instigated to improved standards.
At GSTS we recognise that the security industry must adapt to new technological advances and the demands placed upon it by changes in how crimes are committed. We also strongly feel that the industry needs to improve the return on investment that it gives to its clients.
At GSTS we believe that we must constantly challenge the way we work in order that we can give incremental value and cost efficiencies as a solution to our clients changing needs.
We adapt to new threats and new risks and we believe that the investment that we make in our frontline staff through training is key to our future success.