Security: maximum effort, what rewards?

Security. An increasingly lucrative business in the Middle East and new legislation now demands that security guards and supervisors should be trained to a minimum standard.

COMMENT, Facilities Management

Security. An increasingly lucrative business in the Middle East and new legislation now demands that security guards and supervisors should be trained to a minimum standard.

This is great in principle, but two things stand in the way of security guards doing a good job: money and education.

Historically, buildings in the Middle East were guarded by a watchman. And that's all he did, watch. I'd like to say that this traditional way of thinking has changed, but it hasn't.

As Major General Abdul Aziz Al Bannai, CEO, of First Security Group explains, "the meaning of security is not there, people are just wearing the uniform".

What the market is currently seeing is a transitional period. For example, an industry insider told me that in one particular instance when a security guard was asked why he didn't act on a security incident, he simply said it was because he was the 'watchman' and it was his duty to 'watch'.

This is where education becomes necessary. The government's decision to impose legislation on security companies and ensure guards and supervisors are trained to a certain standard can only be a good thing, right? Maybe then, security guards will know to alert their supervisor and the authorities straight away if something happens. They might also be able to angle the CCTV cameras to pick up more footage.

I witnessed a group of guards being trained last month. The trainer explained everything in great detail, from what CCTV is and means, to how to deal with a potential bomb threat. But the faces on most of the guards said it all. They didn't really care.

Maybe it is because they don't actually realise that their jobs and actions could well save lives. Maybe they didn't think that by taking notice and really listening to what they were being told, could one day help the authorities prevent a disaster.

So the question I ask is, why don't they care? Most of them are paid around AED 500 a month and until now, have been thrown into the role with no training.

For attitudes to change, there needs to be an incentive, a reason for them to feel proud of what they do and a minimum wage would be a starting point.

FMs can help by sourcing companies who treat their staff well, motivate them and keep them focused on the job. At the end of the day, these guards are responsible for the safety and well being of employees and the building - two of a company's largest assets.

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