Author Archives: Mark

A security team prepared for the ‘new normal’, security in the COVID-19 era.

The last few months have been quite an experience for all working in security in the UK. Our team has reacted with speed and professionalism to protect our staff, meet our client needs and support the country however we can.

Several of our staff have served in the military and immediately took the opportunity to volunteer to assist with the Army Reserve, supporting COVID testing and local authorities during the crisis. Our team have been working with the NHS & Police to help keep the public safe. As a business this is something we are more than willing to support – service is at the heart of what we do.

As a result of our action, we have gained more experience working in high risk areas but have not had any cases of COVID-19 within our workforce, why is this? The first and most important reason is professionalism. Direction on how to ensure the safety of your workforce is clear, we have adopted protocols which minimise the risk in the same way the military have done when running testing sites. PPE and control measures work when applied correctly.

The feedback from our clients is consistent – we communicate more effectively than competitors, we are more flexible and responsive. This pandemic has been an opportunity to step up and deliver more than the average and we have achieved it.

Any organisation looking to source a security team who are experienced in operating safely during COVID-19 whilst enabling the return to work please do give us a call. We can provide temperature screening of staff as they arrive and access control in a safe, friendly manner. The safety of your staff and ours is always the priority.

Watchword Security – Using military skills to support during the COVID-19 pandemic

Our blog activity has reduced in recent times due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Demand for security services has shifted to primarily patrol based activities and an increased focus on vacant property management, for example. We have reacted accordingly and continue to operate within the boundaries of government direction.

The safety of our staff and clients is our number one priority and we have taken the necessary steps to minimise the risk to both. We have a committed team and strong commercial relationships which will endure.

In addition to this, I have been working with the Army Reserve as part of the COVID Support Force (CSF) which exists to support authorities such as the NHS, Police, Fire Service and local councils as they work tirelessly to help communities. The role of the military varies depending on the location and the situation is rapidly changing of course.

Watchword has a great team – we have team members with decades of experience in the security industry and some with extensive military experience, as a result I am able to work temporarily with the military to try and contribute during this challenging time whilst continuing to communicate with our team.

Military Assistance to Civil Authorities (MACA) covers a wide range of tasks that is likely to evolve as the situation develops, it is reminiscent of similar operations I have been involved with before in the UK such as assistance to communities during floods. The key difference on this occasion is the risk and the scale, but it seems those on the front line in the NHS are beginning to win with the assistance of all adhering the Government direction. – Mark Thomson

Vacant Property Management – Security in uncertain times

Combining the increase in the number of vacant properties with the stretched emergency services and possible civil unrest that has been mentioned, premises could be vulnerable to damage or interference from vandals, thieves and burglars. Consider vacant property management to reduce this risk, whether key holding and alarm response, regular patrols or 24-hour building protection. We are here to support.

Events such as the ongoing Coronavirus lead you take stock of what is important in life – family, friends & looking after those who need your help. It does lead to reflection too about how society functions and some of the vulnerabilities that lie just beneath the surface of the systems we have created. We enjoy providing security because it comes naturally and is (relatively speaking) black and white. We want your people, assets and premises to be secure and are confident in delivering that.

With many businesses enforcing home working for as many staff as possible due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation and others closing their doors to customers, those responsible for Facilities, Property, Building or Estate Management are often left to ensure that the premises remain secure in the absence of any staff on site.  

In what is a rather unprecedented time for society, pragmatism is required when providing security to an organisation’s property and assets.

Due to the nature of a spreading virus, those working in the emergency services are just as likely (if not more) likely to contract the disease than the wider population, in addition to the greater strain already placed on them. As a result, we see proactive measures taken such as the mobilisation of the military to support the emergency services and the inevitable information that the chief function of the emergency services will be to ‘provide essential services’ to society. Vacant properties and a depleted police force present an opportunity to potential criminals, as with most things, prevention is better than cure.

The Watchword Podcast

In addition to providing security services in Berkshire, Hampshire and across the south east, we have launched a podcast in which we speak to interesting people about their background, experience and why they made the decisions they did.

The Watchword Podcast tells the stories of challenge and success.
Reflecting on life’s big decisions and the factors behind them so that you are better informed when planning your own path. The introduction to the podcast is below:

Episode 1: Jimmy Clark joined the Army after deciding to leave his corporate graduate job just 3 months after starting it. In this interview he reflects on some of life’s big decisions and the factors behind them. What took him from a child who liked amateur dramatics and science fiction to fighting in one of the worst parts of Afghanistan? Jimmy has provided security to locations all over the world and is aligned with the values we have as a company.

Security in Reading, with Thames Valley Police

In this episode of the Watchword Security blog we speak to PCSO Emily Treadgold from Thames Valley Police about security in Reading and the surrounding area.

How long have you served in the police and what roles have you done within it?

I’ve been a PCSO for a year now, there are other PCSO’s within my team that have been in for up to 13 years.

How would you summarise the structure of the police force in the Thames Valley and the different teams within it?

Neighbourhood Policing emphasises a local approach to policing that is accessible to the public and responsive to the needs and priorities of communities.

Neighbourhood Policing provides communities with a visible presence. Delivered fairly and effectively, Neighbourhood Policing builds public confidence, encourages compliance with the law and secures police legitimacy . Public confidence and perceptions of legitimacy are vital to effective, efficient and fair policing. Citizens who trust and accept the authority of the police are more likely to obey the law . Intelligence gathering, crime prevention and crime investigation all depend on public confidence and trust. A community whose residents mistrust the police can create a climate of impunity for serious offenders, increasing the vulnerability of those living amongst them.

Good Neighbourhood Policing can enhance trust and legitimacy and increase citizen satisfaction. Neighbourhood Policing also presents an opportunity to address demand management and behaviour change.

NPTs can make communities safer by adopting a strategy comprised of four elements:

•Visibility: To reassure communities through a police presence both physically and virtually (Social media)

•Engagement: To better understand the ‘grain’ of communities, their needs, assets, and resources

•Problem-solving: To work with other agencies and the community to prevent and reduce demand and build policing capacity.

Community Resilience: To mobilise social capital within communities.

Shift teams are the ones that work day and night, respond to majority of the immediate jobs, they will respond to all jobs which vary from low level crime to high level crime.

· Is there a model for which team deal with particular incidents or events? How does it work?

For neighbourhood teams we have our area, for example mine is Twyford, I share the area with another PCSO and a Police Officer, within this we would share out the jobs that come in which range from neighbourhood disputes to investigations for other officers that dealt with a case first hand and need house to house completing etc.

The local ‘shift’ team operate on a case by case allocation basis. It goes to whoever is available and they will call up for jobs.

· Are there any patterns in crime or anti-social behaviour that you see in the local area?

At the minute it is anti-social behaviour, theft from motor vehicles, neighbourhood disputes and shop lifting. A lot which are reduced by effective patrols.

· What are the biggest problems for the police on a local scale?

I can’t speak for the whole of the police force locally but I would say burglaries are amongst the most common crimes we have in and around Reading.

The Watchword team: Basanta Tamang

Having served the U.K. for seventeen years as a soldier in the Royal Gurkha Rifles, Basanata Tamang has been working in the security industry since his departure from the Army in 2014. Basanta manages teams of officers and takes responsibility for site security as part of his supervisory role.

What roles have you had in the security industry?

I have worked in the U.K. and overseas performing a variety of roles, initially working as a close protection officer for individuals, sometimes in Europe or further afield in Dubai for example. More recently I have been leading teams of officers in a variety of locations, from customer facing roles such as the Henley Regatta, to working at larger facilities supporting estates management.

What skills do you need to succeed in the security industry?

You must be adaptable and focus on the customer’s needs, the requirements of clients can change quickly, it is our job to respond accordingly. I have performed a wide range of tasks as a security team leader whilst also being responsible for security, from helping with events organisation to supervising cleaning teams. Working with Watchword, we focus on the customer experience, this is the most important thing, so being on time, smartly dressed, being polite and taking an interest in the client’s organisation are the basics we must get right intially.

What security qualifications do you have? 

Quite a few! My role now is more focused management, but some of my specific security qualifications are: Close Protection Level 3 (SIA License), CCTV Operator, First Aid level 2 (FPOS), Protective Driver & Managing Conflict.

Which places did you go in the Army and what were your favourite jobs? 

Australia, Kenya, Malawi, Brunei, Macedonian, East Timor, Belize, Afghanistan and Wales! I enjoyed all of my jobs in the Army, it is good fun for a young man, but I am now more focused on having a stable home life in Berkshire with my friends and family.

Watchword Security provide security services to commercial & residential property owners and managers in the Thames Valley and South East of England. If you need a security team you can rely on, we can help.