FearFree are frequently called upon to consult on physical and personal security arrangements for central government departments. Our consulting relationship with this department started when FearFree was asked to chair a seminar on physical and personal security for departmental Health and Safety Managers. At the seminar, Craig met the department's security staff who asked FearFree to review the security of their corporate services facilities nationwide.
FearFree agreed to act as consultant and undertook the security review using the new New Zealand Intelligence Community Protective Security Requirements (PSR) as a framework. We benchmarked the departments physical security capacity against the PSR, reviewing policies and procedures as well as personal and physical security systems, formulating recommendations for the department to work towards PSR compliance.
FearFree's were then asked to consult on the physical security aspects for all new builds for the department. In addition to having substantive input into all aspects of building security systems and layout, FearFree developed the framework governing the Incident Response Team at the department's headquarters; the policies and procedures and supporting systems governing the team's formation, deployment and operations.
FearFree then trained all of the department's frontline corporate services personnel, NZ wide. The training was based around FearFree's 2013 H&S-Award-finalist customer conflict and de-escalation course, but specifically tailored to the department’s requirements. Training included FearFree designing an e-learning platform to aid in new staff induction and reinforce face-to-face training.
One local government agency engaged FearFree to undertake a comprehensive review of all of their physical security related aspects: policies and procedures, and systems. Local government agencies consist of many facilities with a public function, and this agency was eager to ensure they had the safety of both their public and staff covered.
FearFree was asked to look at the agency’s compliance with wide ranging security legal requirements and best practice security standards, as set out in the PSR, H&S at Work legislation, and by the ANZCTC (counter-terrorism committee). We primarily used the PSR Capability Maturity Model as a benchmarking tool. The Capability Maturity Model is a tool by which agencies can assess their capability against 5 levels across 12 dimensions of security.
The PSR doesn’t mandate specific practices, but is rather a framework for managing security. FearFree conducted reviews, interviewed staff and observed the agency in practice to benchmark the agency’s current security capability, identifying possible risks. We then provided recommendations to bring the agency up to a more appropriate level of PSR compliance.
The analysis and recommendations were provided to the agency in documents written to be discussed by the board: FearFree’s consultants have experience at senior corporate and director level, and understand the requirements of senior executives. The agency accepted all FearFree’s recommendations and are actively implementing them.
This district council is typical of New Zealand: it has facilities in several different towns, with buildings of varying ages and multiple uses, sometimes with shared occupancies. The council asked FearFree to consult on the physical security aspects its facilities in light of the Ashburton WINZ judgement. To focus was on keeping staff safe, as staff who feel safe are more confident and customer focused.
The consulting started with FearFree sending a reviewer to go over the facilities in person with a trained eye. The physical security systems differed on the various facilities. As building use had changed and new technology had become available, security systems had been added on and were in some cases no longer fit for purpose. Front counters had been built that were too low and weren’t wide enough, they had been moved without considering escape routes or secure areas for staff, CCTV cameras no longer had full site coverage, lighting in public areas was inadequate. FearFree were able to make recommendations as to how security systems could be upgraded – often very simply and cost effectively.
In some cases security systems and processes had become impediments to day to day operations, and so were circumvented – physical security systems are only as good as the people who implement them. A fresh set of experienced eyes was able to pick up on problems such as chocking security doors open to facilitate ease of access, a casual approach to cash handling undermined by a lack of policy and procedure - especially with regards to transporting cash at the end of the day, and a lack of duress alarm procedures.
Identifying problems is the first step towards fixing them. Where FearFree found policies lacking, they could be written. Where policies were no longer appropriate they could be rewritten. Where staff weren’t following policies, the reasons why could be investigated, policies adapted, and staff trained. Safety and security of staff and assets is an ongoing part of organisational life, and the findings of the Ashburton tragedy was a timely reminder of that for everyone.
As part of FearFree’s commitment to being a good corporate citizen, we often consult with NGOs on travel security for their staff being deployed to less safe parts of the world: the new H&S act requires all staff to be as safe as practicable, regardless of where they are. Our consulting on this project had three integrated strands; checking policies and procedures, reviewing sites, and training in personal security.
Having fit for purpose policies and procedures in case of emergency is key. Policies and procedures must be based on sound risk assessment. This is where FearFree’s experience and expertise comes to the fore. FearFree was able to provide risk assessment based on our extensive experience of dangerous locations. FearFree were then able to help establish policies and procedures that were tried and true, and most importantly actionable; simple enough to be remembered and implemented in stressful situations.
Physical security systems support policies and procedures. FearFree then reviewed the sites for the NGO, aligning physical systems with the new policies and procedures. It was particularly important to see that changes were actually implemented in local environments where a lack of resources made things more difficult. Again, FearFree’s experience having been in the same situation in many and varied locations came to the fore.
Finally, FearFree undertook pre-deployment training for the NGO personnel. We put NGO personnel through staged scenarios of the kind of situations they could expect to encounter. Although we didn’t wish to scare people, it was important that they had some experience and insight into how they may act when put under pressure. We put people through the scenarios, reflected on their performance against the policies and procedures, and then went through the scenarios again coaching and refining their responses. The result was staff better prepared for the worst.