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Saturday, July 14, 2012


have i told you that i have a licence to be a cctv operator? well i have. i am one of the, very, many who have a licence from the security industry authority (sia). the sia are the professional body that sets and maintains the codes of practice that security guards should follow. did you know that there are several types of security guard roles – and in order to do those roles you have different licences. with my cctv licence i can’t do door supervision, and those who have the door licence can’t do cash and valuables in transit work. it’s a nice earner for the sia. 

in most cases you can’t work security unless you have a licence from the sia.
i only mention this because of the hoo hah over the inability of g4s to make good on their contract to supply a lot of security guards for the olympics.

for the next couple of months there is a going to be a shortage of security guards in the london area.
for the last couple of months jobcentres have been doing their best to get the unemployed a temporary gig working security at the olympics, the key part of their pitch was that you didn’t need to have a licence from the sia, you just had to be willing, fill out their application forms and pass some checks. i failed because i don’t have a 5-year checkable work history.

this didn’t apply to just g4s, but the other private security firms involved with the olympics.
the employment drive was still going on a few weeks ago. now the jobcentres are asking if you want to be in the reserve squad in order to be called up if someone doesn’t make it in for work.  (the loss of ‘staff’ had been planned for which is why more people were being sought than were needed).

according to reports g4s only realised that there was going to be a shortfall in numbers 8 days ago. i suspect that part of the problem has been that in order to keep costs down they started recruiting very late in order to make sure that they were not paying staff for too long a period, after all why pay them in june if they are not going to be working until late july? also if you recruit someone close to the time of the games, there is less chance that they are going to find a job in the meantime.

the daily mail has made a big play g4s employing cheap labour because they are paying security £8.50 an hour during the olympic games. obviously daily mail reporters are not keen on checking facts or having basic knowledge. most security jobs are going to be at minimum wage or close to it and that means £6.08 an hour. so £8.50 is pretty good considering. it isn’t that the labour is cheap, it is that the g4s seems to have tried to save costs by operating on a just in time schedule and this bad planning has, in the end, wiped out their profit.
it is not like g4s are alone in not doing a good job, you only have to think about companies such as ‘close protection uk’ or a4e to see that there are some issues with private security providers and trainers.
remember these are the people who the con/dems are keen on taking over aspects of policing the nation. as i mentioned before i am a security professional – my training was 3 weeks long and the bulk of that was to do with customer services. people like me are not the sort of people you want to entrust with the policing of the nation and companies who would use people like me, and on rates of pay that will be less than the olympic rates of pay, are not the sort of companies that you should be entrusting these duties to. they are not interested in order in the streets; they are just interested in their order books. some things should not be about the bottom line – policing is one of them.

in reality security at the london olympics is mostly going to be about deterrence – the thousands of bodies on the ground functioning as a warning against someone trying something. mostly the security guards will be searching spectators not to see if they weapons but if they are bringing in water bottles that are too big, or are bring in too much food (have to make sure the concession stands make their money), that is where most of the problems are going to be and where most of the flashpoints will be. the rest of the time security guards will be there to point people in the right direction.

ironically for a lot of people, me included, the idea of getting a job at the olympics was a potential foot in the door with a security company with the possibility of it leading elsewhere. most of the people i did the course with were looking at the possibility of getting a job there and were keen to work (one chap did and because of his previous experience could possibility turn it into a long term job there as he could end up working for the london legacy development corporation, the people who are going to take over once the games have gone).

from what i have read the public servants, police and military, who are stepping in to save the day are working out to be cheaper than those who would have been supplied by g4s, which begs the question: just how were they saving us money?

somehow the lack of planning on g4s’ part has been built up into a series of ‘aren’t the olympics a farce’ stories. how the london organising committee of the olympic games (locog) were supposed to know that their partner in this, g4s, was going to be unable to provide the staff it had been contracted to is never explained, especially as g4s themselves only seem to have realised there was a problem very recently.
what seems to be missed is that while the whole thing looks like a monumental cock-up it in fact shows that someone at locog was quick to realise that an alternative had to be found. it was and it has been deployed. crisis management that worked:  amazing. as with much to do with the olympics the positive isn’t highlighted – instead the negative aspects are the story the media wants to go with.

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