As 2013 comes to its end I should like to wish all NSI approved companies a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and successful New Year. Listening to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and Mark Carney’s recent speeches we should all be hoping for a real increase in business and opportunity in 2014 and beyond as the economy recovers from recession. Certainly many of the companies coming to Sentinel House to collect their framed NSI medals or to attend our training courses tell me that their order books are now starting to fill and economic life is beginning to turn the corner back towards growth and development. This is great news after such a prolonged period of gloom and retrenchment across the industrial horizon.
Security has featured widely in the news this past year – for both good reasons and for bad. Events in Boston and Nairobi reminded us that terrorism is still alive and well and that we should expect more, perhaps less sophisticated attacks in the future. The images from this year that will stick most starkly in my mind are those of the bloody attack on Drummer Rigby on the afternoon of 22 May in Woolwich. These scenes also remind me of the bravery and devotion of our emergency services, who are often taken for granted, who will be on duty throughout the festive season and on high readiness to put their safety on the line. Lets us spare a thought for them and indeed for all those in the private security sector who will also be on duty over the holiday break.
This year will be remembered for 2 significant reports being written. These are the Stevens Report into policing and the Knight report into fire and rescue services. The former came down heavily against the new police and crime commissioner structure. But both recommend change. Both recognise that the current geographical structure is not optimal and it will be interesting to see how much of the advice prospered will be actioned over the next parliamentary session. The merger of the police services in Scotland and the coming together of the fire and rescue service has shown what can be achieved as demonstrated in the response to the helicopter crash in Glasgow on 29th November. We have also heard that the SIA are pressing ahead with business licensing in 2014 so keep an eye on the NSI website for regular news updates and information.
According to the figures, crime has continued to fall notwithstanding the poor economy. There are some indications that this trend may, however, be on the turn with rates rising in the north and other areas. In an effort to drive down low level crime, the Facewatch on-line crime reporting initiative should be recognised. Digitising crime reporting and further more digitising the subsequent legal process through to the court room should be a high priority in terms of savings and efficiency. NSI believe that Facewatch offers a positive use of new technology and hope that it may be widely adopted. We will be working closely with the Facewatch team in 2014 to take this project forward. Technology holds great prospects for beating crime and it must be exploited. Improved CCTV imagery is one aspect. Better situational awareness and response via PSIMs will come. The use of remotely piloted airborne systems (RPAS) will surely develop to maturity. Wider deployment of body scanners at airports will increase aviation security. All these technologies need to come together to create systems of systems – but all still need people to operate them at the end of the day.
Let me conclude by mentioning all of the men and women who make the security industry work. From the installation engineers to the security officers guarding key installations, from the control room staff in the ARC to the cash-in-transit operators and from the door supervisors to the maintainers, they all contribute to a growing and vibrant industry which shares more and more of the responsibility for resilience, protection and response to danger. They help keep the peace and they protect society and its economic well-being. They are skilled, hard-working and deserve our thanks and thoughts over the next few weeks. To them we say well done, keep up the great work and, most of all, thank you for a job very well done.
Merry Christmas to you all!