Professionalising Security

p066-069By Steve Mark.

In 2011-2012, I had the honour of participating in an international technical committee organised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and ASIS. The aim of the committee was to develop guidance for a management system with auditable criteria, consistent with human rights, legal obligations and good practices, for private security service providers working in areas where governance and the rule of law have been undermined by conflict or disaster.  It was an invaluable experience which ultimately culminated in the finalisation and publication of the ANSI Standard Management System for Quality of Private Security Company Operations – Requirements with Guidance (ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012) in March 2012 in the United States. The process of developing the Standard was, in my view, a watershed moment for the global security industry and complements a series of steps being taken in Australia and overseas to achieve professional status.

ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012 establishes an auditable mechanism for private security service providers to provide demonstrable commitment, conformance, and accountability to the principles outlined in the International Code of Conduct (ICoC) for Private Security Service Providers and best practices of the Montreux Document. The Standard, which sets global principles for private security companies working in complex and high risk environments overseas, recognises that private security services providers play a pivotal role in protecting not only their clients but also the welfare of local and impacted communities – including their rights and freedoms.

ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012 is unique. Firstly, it is a voluntary Standard that is both practical and has little economic or social costs associated with its implementation. Secondly, unlike many other standards, it is not overly proscriptive. The Standard does not dictate what a private security service provider must do or not do with absolute certainty – instead it sets ‘principles’ as goals, which can be easily audited, for providers to hit. Thirdly, and most importantly, the Standard was drafted to ensure that private security service providers, in the execution of their services, abide by applicable international human rights and humanitarian laws. Therefore, the Standard recognises that respect for the rights of individuals in the provision of security services can never be ignored.

The requirement for private security service providers to abide by existing applicable international human rights obligations and international humanitarian law is a first. In effect it means that private security service providers must ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms are acknowledged and protected. ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012 is designed to wholeheartedly support a culture that promotes respect for human rights. According to Dr Marc Siegel, ANSI Commissioner of Global Standards Initiative and the driving force behind the creation of the Standard, ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012 pen-ultimately “emphasises the sanctity of human life”.

The aim of the Standard is to set the bar high for private security service providers and to ensure that only those that adopt the Standard are eligible for contracting with government. Since being endorsed in the United States in March 2012, ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012 has been endorsed in the United Kingdom, and many other countries have set up processes to follow suit. In Australia, a process is currently underway to work towards the adoption of ANSI/ASIS PSC.1-2012. I am honoured to chair the mirror committee here.

The mirror process to achieve government endorsement in Australia could not have come at better time. Over the past few years there has been much discussion in Australia about the “professionalisation” of the security industry and the desire of security personnel to belong to an acknowledged profession. This desire led to the establishment of the Australian Council of Security Professionals (ACSP) in 2009 and the Security Professionals Registry – Australasia (SPR-A) was established and commenced operating in mid-2011. The creation of these two organisations represents a formidable step in achieving professional status in Australia, and has provided a model for other jurisdictions to follow.

The SPR-A was established to meet the need of security advisers, managers and leaders to achieve – through the process of registration – an overarching standard of professionalism. It registers security personnel who aspire to and demonstrate this standard. It is not aimed at creating an additional association or licensing regime, of which there are sufficient, to meet the industry’s needs.

Accordingly, the purpose of the Security Registry is to support the development of the professionalism of security personnel and, over time, to establish and enhance the professional status of security personnel as “a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to high ethical standards and uphold themselves to, and are accepted by, the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised, organised body of learning derived from education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to exercise this knowledge and these skills in the interest of others”.

In order to achieve professional status for security practitioners, the Security Registry has already undertaken certain tasks. Firstly, it has established a framework for the competencies and practices of security personnel. Secondly, it has set principles to ensure that security practitioners meet high ethical standards in providing their service to the community. Thirdly, the Registry has created and maintains a register of such persons who meet and maintain these standards.

Security personnel wishing to be registered on the Register of Australasian Security Professionals can be registered as a “registered security professional”. To be registered in this manner, an applicant must demonstrate that they have met the requirements in relation to either one or two paths; either amassing 40 or more points to demonstrate qualifications and technical competencies, or on amassing between 20-40 points and providing evidence to the peer review process that they meet the competencies through a significant body of work related to their experience of security as a management discipline. Both paths require the applicant to agree to comply with the Principles, Code of Conduct and Behaviours required of a security professional. Applicants must also provide a Statutory Declaration attesting to their experience and good character, and agreeing to commit to the Principles, Code of Conduct and Behaviours set by the Registry. They also must submit appropriate written references.

For those who have amassed at least 20 points but have not achieved the level of academic qualifications or industry experience that would enable them to be a registered security professional, the Registry has created a category of “enrolled security practitioner”. To be registered as an “enrolled security practitioner”, applicants must commit to the Principles, Code of Conduct and Behaviours set by the Registry as well as provide appropriate written references. This will enable applicants who have not yet achieved the academic qualifications or industry experience to be registered security professionals to have an aspirational pathway to achieving it over time.

The initial fee for Registration as a security professional is $350 for three years (GST inclusive). The initial fee for Registration as a security professional is $200 for three years (GST inclusive). Included in these amounts is a non-refundable application fee of $50.00. The application for Registration is available on the SPR-A’s website at www.spr-a.com/application-process.aspx

The Registry has also adopted a new and ground breaking approach towards professionalising the industry by allowing for companies and security organisations to become associates to the Registry. They can do this by committing to the Principles, Code of Conduct and Behaviours, and paying a registration fee to be able to use our log and, over time, receive other benefits including an anticipated preference for tendering. Details about entity registration are available at www.spr-a.com/registrations.aspx

Registration in all categories is based on a peer assessment of qualifications, demonstrated competencies and the other criteria as set out above. As the Registry is still in its infancy, at present there are 15 registered security professionals in Australia with a number of other applications pending. However, this number is expected to significantly increase. Registration offers a range of considerable benefits now and in development. Persons seeking to be recognised as professionals in the security discipline will be able to have their skills, qualifications, experiences and attributes recognised by the industry and the community at large. The Registry also benefits the community and government by providing a Register of professionals who have met the competencies and conduct criteria and have been assessed by their peers as having the skills, qualifications, experience and attributes required in the security discipline.

It is beyond question that security is not only of immense importance but a growth industry, and is expected to be so for decades to come. Unfortunately, in the mind of the community, security is still generally defined as nightclub bouncers on the one hand and terrorists on the other. While both are real examples of the security industry, the true definition lies mainly in between. The development of PSC.1, soon to be adopted in Australia, as well as the worldwide trend towards professionalising the security industry, provides an excellent opportunity for the Registry to provide a mechanism for the recognition that security professionals need and deserve. For further information about the ASCP see www.securityprofessionals.org.au. For more information on the Registry, please visit www.spr-a.com

Steve Mark is the Registrar, Register of Security Professionals Australasia, and Director of Creative Consequences Pty Ltd.