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Choosing a manned security company

If you've never worked with a manned security company before, choosing the right one for your business can be a real challenge. Ideally, your decision should draw from a wide range of factors - not just cost, but formal and informal credentials, size, and past experience, too.

The latest industry expert to wade into the discussion is Lynda Moore, a partner in the consultancy FM Content Watch, whose insights were published in on September 3rd.

According to FM Contract Watch figures, organisations in the UK have an exceptionally vast array of options when it comes to choosing a private security contractor. There are some 2,000 companies in the business at present, of which 798 hold Approved Contractor Status (ACS) with the Security Industry Authority (SIA). These vary wildly in size, with 365 having 25 or fewer employees, another 365 having between 26 and 250, and the remaining 68 with 250-plus personnel.

As such, it's difficult from the outset to know whether to choose a large or small, regional or national contractor, with or without SIA accreditation, Ms Moore wrote.

Nonetheless, a careful study of the following criteria may help organisations come to a satisfactory decision.


Ms Moore advised readers against choosing "the cheapest option with the lowest margins" on the grounds that security companies sometimes struggle to uphold the full range of their promises - which might include training and management support in addition to manpower - when it comes to low-value contracts.

"Thought should be given to terms and conditions of the security officers," she continued. "If the price is so low that they are paid minimum wage for 60 hours per week, are they going to be motivated enough to provide the service you require?"

Ms Moore's views match those of the Confederation of European Security Services, which warned back in January that organisations will only undermine their own professional standards by awarding contracts to the lowest bidder.


The FM Contract Watch partner also suggested that organisations obtain references from a security company's past customers before pushing ahead with a contract, particularly when those customers hold contracts of a similar size and nature.

"Even better, if you can, visit at least a couple of sites to see the service for yourself," she added. "A ten-minute talk with a security officer may give you much more valuable information than the glossy brochure."

Additionally, Ms Moore advised organisations to meet with the managers who would be responsible for their contracts and seek to find out how many other customers they look after. This will give them insight into whether or not they can expect regular on-site visits or a more hands-off style of management.


Finally, the industry expert noted that when choosing an SIA-accredited contractor, it may be judicious for an organisation to review their ACS reports. This will show them whether that contractor excelled in meeting certain requirements or only achieved a bare minimum in competency, which may sway their decision to sign up.

With all of these criteria in mind, some organisations might be tempted to chose the safe route of working with one of the security industry's biggest names. In closing, however, Ms Moore pointed out that a smaller company can usually offer a more personal service and a more hands-on style of management.

"We believe it is best to base your decision on the size of your contract and the value you are to your new supplier," she said.


Posted by Andrew Miller

Image courtesy of iStock-fatihhoca

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