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James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Global, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
September 7, 2020

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IFSEC Interviews...

IFPO UK – Providing support, education and opportunity for security officers

Peter Stiernstedt, IFPO UK Advisory Board member

With the latest announcement that the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO) has set up a UK Advisory Board, James Moore spoke to board member and Criminology Lecturer, Peter Stiernstedt, to find out more about his role and what this means for security officers in the UK.

As a worldwide organisation with members in 68 different countries, the International Foundation for Protection Officers commits much time and effort to supporting the careers and professional development of security officers and supervisors. The very nature of being a global entity, however, means it is not always easy to connect with members and create developed networks in regions where there isn’t a formal structure.

As has been shown in the development of regional chapters of ASIS – with which the IFPO works very closely – having a tangible presence in a specific region or country often provides members with a more coherent support network.

This, explains Peter Stiernstedt, is a key driver behind the establishment of a UK Advisory Board for IFPO: “This move will result in a much more tangible presence in the UK and provide more strength to member voices. While many of the challenges of security officers are relatable worldwide, every region has specific interests and needs – particularly when you factor in legislative and cultural differences.

“We can therefore support the focused challenges and requirements of UK security officers, with objectives more aligned to causes closer to home.”

As a board member, Peter brings a wealth of experience to IFPO’s presence in the UK. Currently employed as a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of West London, Peter previously worked as a security operative for over a decade. Starting as a frontline operative for Securitas, Peter quickly moved into close protection work for a number of years, in a role that saw him earn experience across Europe.

Once back in his native Sweden, however, Peter wanted to develop his career further and gain further competence. The decision was consequently made to move to the UK to study for a master’s in security management, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“After completing the course, I fell into the world of academia and applied for a PhD, where my primary research focused (and continues to focus on) on the private security industry. Throughout all the changes, I’ve continued to keep close to the profession, however, so as to ensure I keep abreast of the challenges and requirements of those on the frontline.”

Peter has been a member of ASIS for 15 years now, having previously served as a board member in the Swedish Chapter. His involvement and passion for education and competency in the profession has led to the development of various security-related modules now being available in Sweden, which did not exist when he first moved to the UK.

Throughout his time in education, Peter has composed studies on the evolution of the private security industry in the UK, private security industry regulation in the EU and a larger project on the role that non-police investigators carry out, and how they do, or do not, collaborate with the authorities.

The development of IFPO in the UK

For those who are unsure of the role of the International Foundation of Protection Officers in the UK, Peter provides a succinct summary.

“IFPO is a global security community that provides continual support to security officers via training, education and certification, as well as excellent opportunities to network with other professionals in the industry. In particular, for those starting out in the profession, IFPO offers a range of courses designed to improve competency and provide recognition for training.

Peter continues: “We also work closely with ASIS, who provide some of the most highly accredited courses available in the sector. IFPO is a perfect place for those early in their careers, or who are looking to build up contacts, as many of the education programmes are tailored to the foundation to mid-tier qualifications – ASIS is then an excellent platform to develop even further, hence the close relationship.”

While the UK Advisory Board was only officially announced in early August, Peter says that UK membership has already grown rapidly in recent months. With significant numbers already in Europe, the UK looks to be an ideal region to set up another, more established board. Comprising a range of competencies and with plans to expand, current members include Mike Hurst, Yolanda Hamblen, Nicholas Reed, Jackie Walker, Brian Sims and Jayne King – alongside Peter himself.

The Board is already making an impact, having recently starting building on the relationship between IFPO UK and the National Association for Healthcare Security (NAHS). The two have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding, with NAHS COO, Nicolas Reed, commenting: “NAHS views IFPO UK as a strategic ally, whose remit as a foundation is focused on the education and development of frontline security officers. This is directly compatible with the aims of NAHS, with many of our members being frontline healthcare security operatives or managing teams of healthcare security officers.”

Certification and education are key to IFPO’s offering to its members – a central reason to Peter’s involvement. Major programmes include the Certified Protection Officer (CPO) programme, Certified in Security Supervision and Management (CSSM), and the Certified Protection Officer Instructors (CPOI) scheme, amongst many others.

The Advisory Board will be working to promote such programmes, especially those relevant to the UK security profession. Peter highlights that courses are heavily subsidised to members, with a significant amount of research having gone into the training schemes and how they improve competency amongst officers.

It’s not just the educational and development programmes IFPO offers frontline security professionals, either. “The other benefits of IFPO are perhaps more intangible, but no less important. We essentially work to promote the industry and act as a voice for security professionals across the world – writing articles, presenting on consultations, for instance. Most importantly, we ensure that practitioners are heard, especially those at the start of the industry who may have new ideas,” concludes Peter.

PeterStiernstedt-IFPOUK-20Notable studies from Dr Peter Stiernstedt

  • Stiernstedt, P. (2019) Privatizing police discretion — ‘private security criminal investigations’ in Sweden. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice.
  • Stiernstedt, P., Button, M., Prenzler, R. and Sarre. T. (2019) The ‘three-pillars model of regulation’: a fusion of governance models for private security. Security Journal, 1-14.
  • Button, M. & Stiernstedt, P. (2018). Comparing private security regulation in the European Union. Policing and Society, 28:4, 398-414

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