There is a difference between the way private security operates in Florida compared to the UK – and that is the assessment of security risks.

In the UK it is an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to risk assess a site or sites before deciding on the type of guarding or other security measures that are needed.  The process of assessing risk is not difficult and can be taken on by senior security officers.

Buyers of security services should also see this activity as part of their task list in developing a plan to appoint a private security vendor.  At several thousand dollars a year, security services for regular guarding don’t come without cutting into someone’s budget.  So, it’s essential the security contract you settle on meets the risks that you really have, and not imaginary ones planted by a vendor who is keen to up the hourly rate.

In Florida we have seen a number of instances recently where clients are buying armed security for a site that doesn’t need this type of guarding.  Armed security rates are more expensive than unarmed, and so the client was paying more than necessary to protect a low-level risk site.  Risks that may increase the need for security include the history of the site, the zip code where the site is located, and most importantly advice from the local Sheriff on whether armed security is really necessary.  More often than not many functions of an organisation have a role in advising on the risks that may need to be considered.  Finance, HR, Customer Service, Marketing, Housekeeping, may all have concerns.

Think of it another way – risk assessment and the deployment of adequate security may improve insurance rates and your broker may also have advice on what sort of security controls can help reduce the cost of premiums.

The aim of the risk assessment exercise is to understand YOUR organization’s risk profile BEFORE you approach a security vendor.  Defining your particular requirements and the objectives helps ensure you are not oversold or undersold the security service you need.

Defining those requirements needs careful management and ideally should be a cross functional team task.  If your organization has a number of sites and buildings needing coverage, then each site or particular building should have its own “mini risk assessment”.

When starting the exercise, start with a blank sheet of paper, especially if you didn’t write the previous security specification.  Just capture all the risks as bullet points to start with – review safety logs, incident reports, emails and staff and visitor concerns to build up a list of risks.  Walk the building or site.  Check points of access and egress.  Check obvious risks such as elevators, escalators, fire precautions, hazardous materials and other risks such as the location of electrical cabinets, data rooms, fire hydrants and particular in Florida – deep water.  Develop a site map – easy to do using Google and start and to visualize where risks have happened or COULD happen.

Try not to base this raw specification on what you have now – concentrate on the risks from the past and how these will affect the future.  Again, we see too many clients telling us that the “incumbent” is not doing a good job and they want to replace them with us – in exactly the same way.  If you want to change your security provider, then a risk assessment is a logical way to take steps to improve your security services.

At the end of the day the security service in any organization should be an integral part of the successful operation of the business.  We encourage our clients to take a risk assessment before launching in to the type of guarding needed.  This helps clients achieve a logical and cost-effective security plan, along with a consistent and improving picture of security for future development.

Do you wake up every morning hoping your children stay safe at school?

‘HOPE’ is NOT a viable strategy for keeping your children safe at school!


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