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October 30, 2023


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Raising security training standards with robust, reliable and repetitive processes

A recent BBC investigation uncovered several training companies offering shortened door supervisor courses for attendees to obtain fraudulent SIA licences. Here, Paul Mason, Managing Director for Redline Assured Security, pens his thoughts on the need to raise standards of training across the security sector, outlining how aviation security training may provide a marker for the rest of the industry.


Paul Mason, Managing Director for Redline Assured Security

There are multiple routes to becoming a trainer across all industries but surprisingly few are qualified with academic or vocational status. Furthermore, there are several organisations where you can be employed as a trainer without certification following the theoretical study and practical experience of an accredited syllabus.

Alarmingly, many would-be trainers would rather take the tick-a-box option and do the bare minimum within a minimum timeframe, leaving them without the foundation of knowledge and experience to build a career in outcome-focused security training.

In today’s world, the security landscape has evolved with new terrorist tactics changing the nature of threat to sectors like the events sector. It is imperative that the security industry also evolves.

Industry should support working collaboratively towards setting a benchmark for the effective application of security measures and processes in large public spaces and that is best achieved through a formal regime of certified training outcomes, standards and practices.

The picture is different in aviation security, which may provide a benchmark for success elsewhere across the security spectrum.

It is reinforced by the existence of a mandated syllabus and quality assurance framework that is overseen by the civil aviation authority and performance and quality-based metrics that have consequences for failure to attain and/or maintaining them.

The robustness of the aviation security training processes consequently enables better preparedness across a broad range of threats and vulnerabilities with a capability that is standardised and reliable in its delivery of threat mitigations.

Training processes are then repeatedly assessed to be assured of their effectiveness.


To better protect people in large public spaces and venues, the security industry should take control of the standard of training input to control the standard of output.

The more inadequate the training, the more serious the consequences, as plainly revealed by the Manchester Arena Inquiry.

“The more inadequate the training, the more serious the consequences, as plainly revealed by the Manchester Arena Inquiry…”

Individuals need to have the skills, knowledge and behaviour to deliver training input that goes far deeper than merely scratching the surface. They should undergo vocational training to know the objectives of training, be capable of adapting delivery styles – depending on need and audience, without judgement nor discrimination – and be able to share theoretical and practical knowledge in equal measure using the best knowledge transfer techniques to teach, test, mentor and develop the trainees.

In security, it is our duty to analyse training needs more effectively to enable more robust delivery. What are the training needs and how do we go about addressing them?

An example of this is the Difficulty, Importance and Frequency (DIF) analysis. For example, a firefighter’s job is physically hard and mentally challenging, so the difficulty factor is high; fires can be fatal, so the importance of the job is huge.

The more important the job, the more rigour should go into practice and training, otherwise the consequences could be catastrophic.

This simple analysis feeds into the required frequency of training. Whilst a firefighter might be called to an emergency four times a year, they train and practice every single day, so they are ready when they are called to action.

In aviation security, the Aviation Security Act enshrines procedures and systems in law, yet in other sectors, security training is not underpinned with legislation and in many cases by any form of directive.

The rhetorical question here is: “Surely security training should be informed by lawful standards to facilitate robust preparedness and prevention of unlawful acts of terrorism?”


A positive development outside of the aviation sector is the increasing emphasis on accountability and culpability. More rigorous checks into credentials and certifications are becoming more prevalent in the training sector in a bid to raise the bar and maintain better standards.

It should be without question that the buying public have the assurance that trainers have earned the credentials to deliver reliable outcomes of knowledge transfer in training courses or processes. This will transfer to those they have trained, as they are subsequently proven to be capable of achieving the expected standards required to achieve the level of protection for which they exist.

The greater the gravity of the subject matter, the more serious the consequences can be.

It is essential that a trainer or training organisations can be relied upon to deliver an effective syllabus that is aligned with the outcomes to prevent or mitigate risk or threat.

City & Guilds certification or a Certification Instructor Number (CIN) validated by the CAA in the aviation industry provides a significant layer of reassurance to the buyer.

In the case of a CIN, the responsibility and accountability of holding a CIN and delivering to the expected standards lies with the individual trainer, leaving individual rogue traders immediately identifiable in an inquiry into sub-standard training provision. Redline Assured Security employs 21 CIN aviation security instructors.

While such certifications demonstrate that the trainer has been independently assessed and must deliver to a certain standard, these certifications are not yet pan-sector wide.

Therefore, outside of the aviation security sector, we must enforce better management of Quality Assurance frameworks in training organisations so that the buyer is assured of continuously improving meaningful inputs, aligned to analysed objectives, to ensure the right outcomes first time.


There is little value in spending big budgets on one-off training courses that can be marked as complete, with no consideration for retraining or refreshment.

As highlighted in the proposals for Martyn’s Law, the periodicity of training to protect people in public places is equally as important as the initial training to maintain standards.

In the case of the Manchester Arena bombing tragedy and any other venue that is subject to a terrorist attack, the staff on the ground at the time of the attack become first responders by default. Whilst official first responders, including ambulance services, took 40 mins or more to reach the Manchester Arena on 20 May, security staff, venue stewards and even the public effectively acted as first responders.


Image credit: William Barton/AlamyStock

Therefore, it is crucial that in the event of a future terrorist threat to a public space, staff are fully trained and are repeatedly assessed so that an instinctive and immediate response is second nature for those on the ground at that specific time to ensure the best outcomes.

Redline, for example, carries out three individual assessments of its aviation security trainers per year, with assessment analysis and feedback that is fed into a cycle of improvement.

Such rigorous and repeated auditing can flush out those who are not fully committed to a positive security culture.

Industry needs more organisations to commit to defined benchmarks in the provision of national security for the public. The ones that don’t continue to carry significant risk and culpability; the Manchester Arean inquiry has adequately identified and highlighted the risks that exist and should be addressed, and whilst there was some, albeit unpalatable, mitigation as to why Manchester Arena failed so catastrophically, any future incidents of this type offers no excuse for any quarter.

Covert testing is an effective means to assess security measures. This is where experts can operate within an organisation’s established systems and processes to identify points of failure and provide recommendations for improvement.

If businesses and organisations are paying millions of pounds for security equipment, resources and complex operations, they must be confident that the cost has actually mitigated those very risks the security provision was commissioned to deter, deny, detect and detain.

Quality assurance of security through covert and overt testing is one of many robust ways to obtain the ‘ground truth’ with respect of security effectiveness and to identify quickly any failing mitigation exposing a business to threats they had previously considered appropriately covered.

As an industry, we have a duty to work towards setting and improving standards for security operations across all sectors and to establish a more determined and robust security culture that serves the public better.

About the author

Paul Mason is Managing Director for Redline Assured Security, part of Air Partner Group, a Wheels Up company. With over 25 years of aviation experience, Paul was at the helm of Redline from inception in 2006 to acquisition by Air Partner in 2019, guiding Redline from a concept through to the international security training, consultancy, and quality assurance company that it is today.

The division offers a range of products and services spanning all aspects of safety and security, training, consultancy, quality assurance and software products to cater for the needs of tomorrow’s threats and risks, as well as big data handling, live data analytics and real time threat and risk management. 


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