Category Archives: Uncategorized

Watchword appoints renowned education leader Penny Wycherley as a Non-Executive Director

After a year of huge growth for Watchword, 2022 has started with an exciting development. 

The former CEO of City of Portsmouth College Penny Wycherley has become a Non-Executive Director of Watchword Limited. 

Penny’s resume includes roles as CEO and Principal of Highbury College Portsmouth,  City College Plymouth, Waltham Forest College, Great Yarmouth College & South Kent College, as well as working as an OFSTED inspector. She has agreed to take on this role having been incredibly impressed by the support we delivered to City of Portsmouth College in 2021. 

“We started working with Watchword in January of 2021 and found Mark and his team to be superb, initially they assisted us in planning and delivering Covid-19 testing, which had just been introduced by the Government. They then supported us with Covid Marshalls, Security Officers and Safety Wardens across our four campus locations.  They continue to support the college today. 

We ran a staff satisfaction survey which included the question “How effectively do you think the senior management have responded to the Covid pandemic?” The response was astonishing, 97% of our team said they were satisfied: an exceptional response. This percentage is abnormally high by any standard and during a time of huge change, fear and uncertainty. The contribution by Mark’s team was pivotal. They are professional, dedicated, and supportive. Watchword’s vision is one of opportunity for their staff and people focused support to their clients, it is a privilege to be involved.”

Penny’s role with Watchword will include governance, strategic planning, and oversight of our planned introduction of an apprenticeship scheme to generate more opportunities for young people. 

Penny has five children and currently three grandchildren. In her spare time, she is a passionate gardener, historian and student of the world today.

Our aim is to help schools, colleges and univeristites promote positive behaviours on campus through a fully managed security service. For more detail or to arrange a site visit:

Call us on 08007720117 for a quote or email

Watchword Growth – New contract for security services

As a business we have grown quickly during 2021and in doing so reached a broader audience. This week we have started work with a client with five sites in Portsmouth that we now support.

After helping those in both education and business get their people back on site through Covid-19 testing, we are back fulfilling our core purpose – providing high quality security teams.

We were asked by City of Portsmouth College to support them across their five sites from Cosham to Southsea. As ever, our aim is to provide meaningful work for people and to embed our team members with our clients, so they feel fully supported.

Having helped Highbury College with their Covid-19 testing operation, they asked us to take on responsiblity for their security on site too. Why? Because we care – we cared deeply about getting their learners and staff back to work after the Christmas lockdown. We also care deeply about delivering a high quality security service which enhances each campus and hopefully contributes to a better experience for learners.

Our aim is to help schools, colleges and univeristites promote positive behaviours on campus through a fully managed security service. For more detail or to arrange a site visit, see below:

Call us on 08007720117 for a quote or email

COVID-19 asymptomatic testing: training and support

Earlier in the year our blog focused on military support during the COVID pandemic. Members of our team were responsible for the planning, training of staff and then operational delivery of some of the first Mobile Testing Units (MTUs) in the country. Our lead trainer then instructed the civilian contractors who took over from the military teams.

Rapid COVID testing was always likely to be introduced, getting results quickly means organisations can get their teams back to work. The recent Government direction to schools and colleges has led to leadership teams looking at how to make this happen at speed in a structured fashion.

Having been asked for assistance in this area, Watchword now provide Rapid Asymptomatic COVID Testing Teams, COVID Testing Project Management and our ‘COVID Testing: Staff training’ package.

Some key elements of the training package are outlined below:

  • Preparation of the site
  • How to set up the testing centre
  • Correct usage of PPE
  • Introduction to all roles
  • Explanation of tasks
  • Apps and recording
  • Managing positive cases
  • Health and safety considerations
  • How to remove PPE and dispose of clinical waste
  • Cleaning and collapsing the testing site
  • ‘Walk throughs’ and exercises to confirm understanding

Our aim is to help schools, colleges and other organisations return to normality as quickly as possible, whether assisting with testing or training your team. For more detail or to arrange a site visit, you can download a summary of these services here:

Call us on 08007720117 for a free quote or email

Watchword progress – The SIA Approved Contractor Scheme

When I left the military, I had an ambition to start a new venture and one year later we established Watchword Security. Why? Because I saw some of the challenges in the industry, met some security officers who I believed in and most importantly I enjoy building teams, delivering to expectation, and continuous improvement.

Nearly three years later and the business is in a strong position with trusted staff who do not let our clients (or each other) down.

Watchword Security now holds four varieties of accreditation/award:

  1. The Security Industry Authority ‘Approved Contractor Scheme’ (SIA ACS) award.
  2. The National Security Inspectorate Silver award for manned security and screening of staff.
  3. Alcumus Safe Contractor and PQQ.
  4. The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze award.

The SIA ACS is perhaps the leading certification for manned security services in the UK. We are delighted to now hold this.

Contractors with the Alcumus health and safety focused ‘SafeContractor’ accreditation are eligible for SafePQQ. This requires proof that the business is a safe, ethical and sustainable company. The SafePQQ assessment verifies information covering finance, anti-bribery, environment, GDPR, quality management, right to work, equality, modern slavery, and external references.

The National Security Inspectorate Silver accreditation for manned security services involved an audit of our operation in line with the relevant British Standards for both manned guarding (BS7499) and security screening (BS7858).

We signed the Armed Forces Covenant and then achieved the employer Bronze award because we are passionate about supporting those who serve their communities and the country.

As the director of the business, I have been heavily involved in the process to achieve these standards, it has not been easy, but hugely rewarding as we make measurable progress toward our goal of being the most professional security company possible.

Mark Thomson

If you use a security team or security services and need a company you can rely on, consider Watchword. Call us on 08007720117 or email

Building a cohesive security team

In our previous blog we talked about the importance of values in sourcing and maintaining a reliable security team – if the values of the business being are not aligned with those of the security team, we would not be pulling in the same direction. Therefore, we have ‘family’ as one of our values, a vast majority of us work for our family first.

Our aim is to build reliable security teams to service each of our clients, integrating with the Facilities Management team and adding value wherever we can. Security should be more than just a person in a uniform, our security officers aim to make your job easier.

The feedback we get from clients is consistent, our security officers are reliable and communicate effectively. This is a result of our approach to internal communication, each team member is trained in the Watchword Security way – communication is critical to our success. From their first day with the company, the team are encouraged to over communicate with the security management team.

Watchword take care of your security, leaving you to focus on what is important.

We use technology to ensure instant and secure communication from control room to site, security officers check in with the control room before their shift starts, on the hour whilst on site and when they leave the site. Missed check calls are highlighted and rectified, performance issues in the security industry and largely down to below par leadership, management and communication. One of the first steps in avoiding this is to ensure regular communication with the team on site.

We want our security teams to be professional, reliable, and confident in their position. Initially, once they have had their induction and started on site, we achieve this by asking them to direct any questions about the site and their role to the 24/7 security management team. This model leads to the shortest, steepest learning curve possible and ensures that security officers get up to speed faster than they might do in a less proactive company. This also minimises unnecessary questions to the client.

If you would like to talk about high quality security in the south east then call us on 08007720117 or email

How to find a reliable security team

Finding a reliable security team in the UK can be something of a minefield. There is often a lack of service quality for a number of reasons, smaller organisations are more personal but often unreliable. Larger organisations will only enter the market at a certain value and often suffer from similar quality issues. This affects the reputation of the industry.

This simple situation is the reason that Watchword exists – we are a high quality security service provider. But what does this mean? ‘High quality security service’ is a claim that many organisations make, so how do we prove it? We are writing a series of short blogs outlining how we operate.

Finding a reliable security team can be a challenge.
  • Values
    Many organisations have values and we are no exception. Our company values have been updated after consultation with our security team to include ‘family’.

    Our values are: family, respectintegrityself-discipline and loyalty.

    This change stems from the fact that the vast majority of our security team work for one thing above all else – their family. Therefore, we need to align our operation to support them in achieving their aim. This means we are slightly more flexible in supporting colleagues who have family commitments than other security companies might be. Too often, people are treated as a commodity in the security industry.

    We can only achieve this flexibility because our team believe in it and take ownership, last minute client emergencies are dealt with in the same fashion as home related issues for our team – we work hard for one another and as a result, our clients get a more reliable security service.

    Delivering this isn’t easy to begin with and relies heavily on effective communication between teams and strong personal relationships, which are topics we will discuss in future posts.

    We are going to be writing a few more short blogs on how to deliver a high quality security service. It isn’t rocket science, but it makes a big difference to organisations who need it.

    If you would like to talk about high quality security services then call us on 08007720117 or email