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November 29, 2022


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The ‘heartbeat of the industry’: IPSA highlights mental health and physical assault as major concerns for frontline security officers

As the International Professional Security Association (IPSA) announces the appointment of its former EDI & Welfare Director, Satia Rai, as its new CEO, the Association continues to reaffirm its commitment to the welfare of frontline security professionals. Rhianna Sexton caught up with Satia to find out more about the Association’s commitment to frontline security operatives.  

Frontline professionals are the ‘heartbeat’ of security

Satia Rai, CEO of IPSA

Satia Rai, who has over 26 years in the profession, describes herself as an ‘advocate of what IPSA is all about – the front-line.’

IPSA strives to create a ‘family feel’ and sense of belonging both for volunteers working on building the Association and for the members who join. Satia highlights that the culture IPSA cultivates is an inspiring one both internally and externally.

“IPSA’s given me the opportunity to go out and support others, empowering them and giving them the voice that they need. Out of the entire structure within the security supply chain, frontline workers are the heartbeat of our sector. We want to empower, embrace, celebrate and grow the security community because the benefits are endless. Our ‘Front Line Forum’ allows members to get their voices heard by providing them an opportunity to lead the discussion. They bring the challenges faced by the front-line to the forefront, in the form of ‘hot topics.’ We then help them formulate and present their solutions, taking it forward to the concerned authorities. That is how the forum facilitates welfare improvement for the front-line.”

The Front Line Forum that IPSA has set up allows members to voice their concerns or queries online, as well as connect with each other to grow the sector into a community of networking individuals.

Through its App, IPSA collects vital data from its growing membership of over 4,500 frontline officers, with the aim of voicing security professionals’ concerns and opinions to the rest of the industry. Among other crucial data collected, the App collates mental health status and abusive incident figures and experiences. While the former shows the reasons why frontline officers are having a good or a bad day, the latter gives them an opportunity to report an incident anonymously and give the association insight into the support received from the police and their employers.

IPSA exclusively shared the latest figures with IFSEC Global.

‘One Voice’ for the security frontline

The new CEO explains: “The data collected helps us truly deliver on IPSA’s motto of ‘One Voice’ for the frontline. These figures show the impact employers, working conditions, and wage rates have on frontline security professionals’ mental health and wellbeing.”

Frontline professionals share their mental health status with IPSA by indicating the reasons they are having a good or bad day. Being the majority, 39% of officers having a good day regarded ‘Personal’ aspects of their life to be the overriding reason. Whereas 41%, that is the majority of officers who were having a bad day, attributed the feeling to ‘Work.’

IPSA observed that while it grew from just a few hundred members to now nearly 5,000, these mental health statistics have almost always indicated work to be the primary reason for frontline workers’ bad day votes.

When given the chance to elaborate, a significant number of members attributed the negative impact on their mental health to the lack of job opportunities and low wages.

Here are just some of the responses received by IPSA from members experiencing these bad days due to work…

  • “Underpaid, under pressure.”
  • “Workload is too much, pay not enough.”
  • “Hard to find work.”
  • “Haven’t been sent a shift for weeks.”
  • “Need a secure career.”

Other, longer form comments, included…

  • “Due to mismanagement of the security detail I’m working on, I’m having to undermine the security subcontractor in order to make myself stand out for the client.”
  • “I feel as though my employer does not care about the health and safety of the staff.”
  • “I have a senior supervisor that just doesn’t care about anything but himself, he works well to keep the client happy but barely even acknowledges me when I walk in the room, which doesn’t make me feel welcome. If it isn’t tough enough dealing with the things we do, it definitely doesn’t help when you work in surroundings where people seem like they don’t even want you there.”

Commenting on the results, Satia says: “IPSA wants to share this first-hand feedback, received straight from the frontline, with the industry to encourage positive change amongst employers, end clients and regulatory bodies. This is what IPSA is all about, giving the frontline a platform to highlight the challenges it faces and drive change across the industry.”

Change in perception required

Of all the incidents anonymously reported on the IPSA App, ‘Physical Assault’ was the most common occurrence. While 8.5 out of every 10 physical assault incidents were reported to the police, IPSA emphasised that only 5.4 received support from employers. However, in the case of ‘Verbal Assault’, the second highest reported incident, all the cases received support from employers with just a fraction reported to the police.

IPSA believes these statistics indicate the much-needed change in perception that employers and the industry hold of the frontline. “They need to be respected, recognised, and appreciated for the work they put in to keep us all safe, and businesses protected,” Satia added.

With Satia now at the helm, the Association will continue with its commitment, bringing these challenges to the forefront, and working towards the welfare of the frontline.

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