Death on the door: how security industry risk has grown as police numbers fall

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The below article is from The Guardian Website, original source found here.

Tudor Simionov was stabbed to death by a gang trying to gatecrash a New Year’s Eve party in London’s West End.

From tackling crime to guarding trains, private firms are filling roles public services once had. But it’s a dangerous business…

Michelle Bailey has endured countless scrapes. The most recent, just before Christmas, involved an acutely intoxicated woman repeatedly threatening her with violence. Bailey, the 48-year-old managing director of Barnsley-based Active Response Security Services, talked her down, as always. “You need to keep very calm. So far no one has ever pulled a knife, thank god,” she said.

Tudor Simionov was not so fortunate. About 5.30am on New Year’s Day the 33-year-old was providing security for a central London party when it was stormed by gatecrashers. Attempting to fight them off, Simionov was stabbed. By 6.05am he was dead. Two months earlier he had left Romania for what his fiancée called “a better life”.

His death has drawn attention to an industry once confined to nightclub bouncers and security guards, but which has quietly grown and diversified – so much so that it now helps prop up a significant chunk of public services. Some call it the UK’s “fourth emergency service”.

Karen Bermingham of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), a regulatory agency linked to the Home Office, said the trade has become vital to tackling crime. “We’re the eyes and ears on the ground and we are spotting and reporting cases where, for instance, there is grooming, we’re kind of like an emergency service,” she said.

As violent crime increases and police numbers dwindle, private guards have been hired to fill the security vacuum, along with CCTV operators, cash transit specialists and close protection officers. The private security sector has been trained to help solve some of the most complex crimes, including child exploitation, along with assisting the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the intelligence agencies.

Increasingly, its operatives are also trained in counter-terrorism, feeding directly into the government’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office. The spate of terror attacks throughout 2017, particular the bombing inside the Manchester Arena, further emphasised the importance of security guards in preventing possible atrocities.

The industry’s broadening responsibilities are reflected in its growth. During 2017-2018 there were 143,894 applications for individual licences to operate in the security industry compared to 110,437 the previous year.

The rise consolidates an already substantial industry. There are currently 386,657 licence holders, of whom just under 10% are women. By comparison, there are currently about 146,000 police officers in the UK.

The Corona Virus has increased the workload within the security industry but it has also increased the amount of theft. As people become more desperate there is even more of a demand for security guards, close protection guards and CCTV Monitoring.

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