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Published: December 15, 2017

This is the time of year people reflect and look forward, and we see no reason not to join in. In our 2016 end of year newsletter we looked back on complex and difficult migration and humanitarian problems, terrorist incidents in Europe, Turkey and around the world, serious environmental issues, and complex economic, security, privacy and political dilemmas that had exercised all of us over the previous year. We acknowledged a) that all these trends would continue, but b) looked forward to working with you to mitigate the threats and generally make for a happier world in 2017.

We were clearly right in the first part, although we can’t claim much credit for that particular insight. As for the second part, are we in a better place now than then? We have had terrorist attacks at home and abroad; worsening climatic conditions; plastic tsunamis in our oceans; earthquakes with high death tolls, especially in Iran, Mexico, Italy and China; environmental fires and floods that have taken too many lives and homes; incidents of neglect that have resulted in fatal fires in buildings and others where children were harmed or killed; depressing incidents in various countries of people misusing their power and positions to abuse others; and so on. If these were the only measures of success and failure, our world and our role in it would have failed irretrievably.

So what is changing to make for a happier world, and can we, our clients and our industry claim any credit? Does the very question sound so ridiculously arrogant to make it redundant? Well, it’s Christmas so we shall seek out the positive and celebrate it. The security contracts we already have and the ones we have gained this year are taking on new characteristics. You, our current and future clients, are adapting your demands of us to meet the changing and expanding world of threats and risks that face you.

First among these demands, and one we are ready and happy to respond to, is for partnership. The days of a security company providing a client a fixed service of, say, guarding, patrolling and response, are giving way to something much broader and more inclusive. In the face of: cyber threats to your people and systems; sudden terrorist attacks on the public outside your front doors or at your nearest rail station; coercion or subversion of your people in or out of the workplace; crime that disguises itself as opportunity; your travellers overseas encountering mass protest or natural disaster; or your need for ever improving sustainability, environmental management, and human rights, data protection and employment law compliance; you require us, your security team, to work alongside you and your various departments in ways that share the risk assessments and the solutions in a framework of constant partnership.

Second, you demand that we manage your security risk, not just respond to security incidents. That requires us to understand and apply the process of security risk management in a way that gathers data quickly and constantly to identify fast changing threats, analyses them, measures, and registers the consequent risks, communicates them, and puts in place strong and relevant mitigation, all within the partnership framework. A topical example is the military defeat of IS terrorism in some places leading to new threats in others from displaced fighters. The mitigation itself must now include solutions that go much further than before: training and assessing our own people alongside yours, using online and live courses as well as scenario based table tops or live exercises; business continuity and crisis plans that merge the needs of us the security provider with those of you our clients; innovative processes and technology that match the speed and variety of change among the threat actors; and the smart cross-fertilisation of knowledge that a) translates our experience of the latest criminal or terrorist methodologies in hostile environments into new, unobtrusive defences in traditionally low risk places, while b) taking our processes of regulatory compliance in developed countries and imposing them on our contracts in underdeveloped ones.

The outcome of these two imperatives is unquestionably an improving state of safety and self-confidence among companies, their staff, their suppliers, their visitors, third parties and simple passers-by, that goes well beyond the actual workplace and into the daily lives of those concerned. And more safety and self-confidence breeds more of that elusive happiness we seek.

Finally, a mention of just two of our own achievements this year that reflect our continuous support to our clients’ wellbeing and ability to sustain operations in challenging circumstances. First, at the UK Security Excellence Awards we a) won Security Guarding Company of the Year (<£50m category) reflecting our contracts in UK and overseas, and b) were finalists for Security Training Initiative of the Year with our LifeSafe™ Training Programme, based at our Training Academy at Gatwick but exportable to wherever our clients require; LifeSafe™ is designed to create team building in response to such new threats as sudden attacks against groups of people by small bands of terrorists, ‘lone wolves’ or vehicles used as weapons. Second, we have now fully deployed Pilgrims HawkSight, our innovative and unique Security Risk Management software tool, enabling and empowering our clients to consistently and effectively assess, model, cost and manage their risks at site, project, journey, country, strategic or even individual level.

We wish you all a very happy Christmas and much success in the new year.

By Richard Lovell-Knight, Director Global Operations, Risk & Information Services, Pilgrims Group Limited.