Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, 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.
December 1, 2020


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IFSEC Interviews...

“We are now protecting people more often than assets” – HS Security’s Niall Griffin on trends and changes in the physical security space

As the HS Security group celebrates its first anniversary and the launch of a new website, IFSEC Global speaks to Niall Griffin from the company about the changes he has witnessed in his 30-year career in physical security, and how to combat the increasing threat to cities and people.

Niall Griffin, General Manager of Hardstaff Secure, part of HS Security

Working in the temporary security sector for over 30 years, Niall has extensive experience from a multitude of different perspectives and disciplines. Within his role of conference policing, Niall was assigned the annual party conference in Brighton based at the Grand Hotel, where he identified inefficiencies created by the types of products utilised to secure events such as these. This internal review and acceptance of an alternative security model saw the establishment of the National Barrier Asset in its infancy.

After his role as Logistics Manager for conference policing, Niall went on to be the Deputy Planning Co-ordinator in his role as a Counter Terrorism Security Co-Ordinator for the Sussex Police (CT SecCo). Niall’s resulting experience allowed him to co-write a police guidance document which has become part of Authorised Professional Practice in securing events such as a party conferences or, G7 and NATO conferences.

Now the General Manager of Hardstaff Secure, Niall can provide expert advice on temporary security plans and assist clients in finding the best solution for a site. We speak to Niall to find out more about his thoughts on the state of the industry as it is now, the role HS Security can play to support in physical protection, as well as any trends he foresees in perimeter protection.

Q: What have been the major changes you’ve seen in physical security during your time?

The industry has changed massively over the years. While previously there were only a few manufacturers with a small selection of unsophisticated, heavy duty barriers, there has since been lots of innovation to provide products for all kinds of different scenarios. Innovation has been driven by emerging threats which are constantly changing.

We are now often protecting people rather than assets, because hiring a vehicle is easier than obtaining material for creating a VBIED (Vehicle-borne improvised explosive device). For this reason, we have seen a shift of products being introduced to the market – from those that maintain stand-off levels should a device go off, we’re now seeing products which immobilise vehicles when used as a weapon.

Q: So, HS Security is celebrating its one-year anniversary in November – congratulations! What did the formation of the group mean for Hardstaff and the other divisions? Has it enabled you to bring a more streamlined proposition to market?

The formation of the group has certainly added another string to our bow, which can’t be offered by anyone else in our marketplace. With our combined knowledge of temporary security, industrial security and protecting people we can offer the most cutting edge, effective and appropriate security solution. Championing a turnkey approach, aiming to work alongside clients as physical security partners to provide the right solutions aesthetically, operationally and to match risk profiles.

We are also offering customers free site surveys where the relevant security expert will advise on the correct security recommendations for your site.

Q: And we hear you’ve recently launched a new website – what does this mean for customers?

The new website is focused on offering customers guidance. We recognise choosing physical security solutions to protect people and high value assets is a daunting task – the physical security industry is full of jargon and acronyms. The solutions pages have a host of questions to help guide on how to approach threats, risk, vulnerability assessment and security design. Blogs and articles from security experts are available to help customers get a better understanding of the current state of play, emerging threats and the products and solutions available to mitigate risk and keep people and property secure. We are very lucky at HS Security to have expertise across all areas of physical security.

We are also releasing our product database. Customers will have to join as members to access datasheets, O&M manuals and there’s also a handy spec table which can be easily copied into documentation.

Q: So, getting back to your perspective on the industry, how do you think the recent UK Government decision to raise the terror threat level will affect the sector? Are there any particular business areas, such as the protection of CNI sites, that this will have the most impact on?

Raising the terror threat increases the focus and awareness of threats. Lockdown has unfortunately created time to think and to plan, it has also led to loneliness and potentially radicalisation of more lone wolf activists. There has been political unrest across the world, with people unhappy with how the pandemic has been dealt with.

As it is seen as a solution to our current situation, the vaccine is currently a high value asset. Manufacturing and distribution centres may need extra security to ensure the operation doesn’t come under threat.

Rapid COVID testing and vaccination centres also creates the potential for queues of pedestrians, where they must be protected from vehicle borne threats.

Q: Is there an increasing threat to cities, in your opinion? It seems that with the growing trend of pedestrianisation, city centres and densely populated areas (COVID permitting), are perhaps more at risk, with fewer physical deterrents?

The public have become easy targets in lone wolf attacks. Perpetrators have access to vehicles and bladed weapons to carryout low sophistication attacks rather than attempt the creation of an HSSecurity-Hardstaff-Interview-20improvised explosive device.

Coming out of the first lockdown, we saw councils increase pedestrian zones to enable social distancing and allow for more businesses to operate outside. To protect people and stop vehicles having access for a mass of pedestrians, many councils implemented a variety of solutions to meet their operational requirements. Unfortunately, pedestrians are an easy target in vehicle as a weapon attacks. As we look to the future, particular care needs to be taken when the country is getting back to normal. We are able to advise on a range of measures, including highways compliant and tested HVM solutions.

Q: And finally, any thoughts on trends for perimeter protection for the future?

Martyn’s Law, officially known as the Protect Duty, will play a large role in the accountability and mandating of event security. Rightly so, events will have to invest in counter terrorism measures to ensure they are protecting guests. Queues and congregations of people should be protected from vehicle as a weapon attacks.

Data is a highly valuable asset, and the stealing of information could be detrimental. The focus is often on cyber security, but physical security must also be in place to stop perpetrators from having access to buildings.

The third trend and probably the most relevant now is securing medical, biological and radioactive substances. We have seen the devasting effects disease can have on our health and economy. Dangerous strands of disease and other chemicals which are used as medical supplies must be stored in secure facilities.

You can find out more about HS Security by visiting the company’s website, which was relaunched in November for improved accessibility and guidance for customers. The Group comprises well-known brands in the physical security space, including bristorm, Barkers Fencing, Hardstaff Barriers, Technocover, ATG Access, Parking Facilities Limited and Berry Systems.

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