It is just over 6 years ago that Sir Francis Richards became the NSI Chairman. A great deal has happened in that time and both the fire and the security industries have seen an ever increasing pace of change. We have experienced one of the deepest and longest economic recessions of recent history during which the banking industry suffering a significant loss of public trust and confidence. After many dark years, slow but steady growth of the UK economy is now predicted but once again this is spurred by the service sector and consumption rather than by healthier exports or expanding manufacturing. Let us all hope that the recovery does become stronger and more sustainable.
Over this period, NSI has introduced a plethora of new audit schemes, written numerous new codes of practice and seen a raft of standards introduced, updated or superseded by European or international versions. But most importantly, despite the recession, we have seen the NSI cohort of approved companies grow in size and shape. More and more companies, some old and some new, have undertaken the third party certification journey with the aim of improving their business and bettering their chances of success in the competition for new trade. Sadly, during these 6 years, a number of companies have not made it and have gone into liquidation. Others have been bought by larger and expanding enterprises. New players have appeared on the scene whilst others have diversified into new areas in order to future-proof their business. Fire has seen particular expansion, most recently with the BAFE SP205 Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment Scheme introduced last year.
Even more change sits on the near horizon. Although awaiting final ministerial approval, it would appear that Business Licensing will come to fruition in 2014 becoming compulsory from 2015 onwards. Private Investigators will also be licensed after much debate over the past few years. A new CCTV Code of Practice has been issued by the CCTV Commissioner. I wonder how long it will be before adjustments have to be made to accommodate imagery received from Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) – commonly known as drones by most of us, but surveillance versions thankfully without the Hellfire missiles on board. I for one am convinced that these machines will become part of the security horizon faster than anyone currently imagines and they offer great opportunities, new capabilities and huge savings over conventional manned aircraft. I also predict that home management systems, enabled by smart phone apps, will see significant growth and bring a new dimension to domestic security systems.
As Sir Francis leaves we say thank you and wish him well for the future. We say welcome to his successor in the form of Chris Hanks. Chris joins NSI fresh from the insurance sector where he has had a long and successful career culminating with Allianz. We value our links with the insurers and we intend to strengthen them in this new era. The next 6 years will bring new challenges, new threats and new responses. The danger of cyber crime will certainly increase and the risk of terrorism remains high. There will be risks and opportunities for the industry as outsourcing grows and we should not expect austerity measures to disappear quickly – the national deficit is simply too large and it will take many years to pay off the arrears and balance the books. I remain convinced that technology will be the cause of the most significant shifts in the security landscape. Those who grasp its possibilities will prosper and thrive. NSI enters this new era with confidence, hope and our lasting determination to improve standards – the very glue which holds the industry together.