Updated: Apr 22, 2021

The purpose of writing this article is following the background of previous experience involving investigations of security incidents where involving security officers and their response.

What is a security incident? A security incident is an event which includes a breach of security. This could be unauthorized access into the building, theft, burglary, robbery, assault and terrorism.

Having investigated many security incidents, it is common for people to blame security as the first point of a failure because the security has either failed to carry out his role through poor training or negligence. In other incidents, security is the main perpetrator of the incident and they have colluded with an adversary and this is through poor pre-employment screening or opportunity.

Security officers have minimal training to carry out investigations and usually, the crime scene is not protected for police to carry out their forensic investigations. Security officers must understand the investigations procedures such as crime scene preservation, first contact account, evidence gatherings, witness statements writing and court procedures.

Usually when a victim of crime report to a security officer that he/she has been robbed a bag outside a hotel, he/she expect the assistance of a security officer to preserve the scene and follow the investigative procedures. Imagine a guest in a hotel reporting of burglary into his room and a safe broken with travel documents and money stolen to the security officer or security supervisor. Additionally, a fraud committed by an employee and requires an immediate investigation. Would the security officer know what he/she needs to do? The hotel management expects the security team that is professional and fully-trained as because they pay for the service. It is expected that they will investigate the crime and provide a report to the management.

Each security incident needs a different approach in terms of the investigation. In some countries, clients hire a security company and it is expected of them to have investigation departments to carry out investigations on behalf of the client’s and report back as well as having trained the security team to investigate a crime.

The reason behind this police is either corrupted or incompetent to carry out investigations in some countries. This poses a challenge to the security company ensuring that they have a competent investigation manager to carry out investigations.

Other businesses employ in-house security officers and managed by a security manager or a security director. Usually, insufficient training is given to the team because the business wants to cut costs. It is suggested at least the business hire a consultant to train the team to be competent as only it takes one incident to ruin your reputation. Unless a fully qualified in house manager has investigations qualifications.

When a business hires a security company, it is paramount that you check on the security training conducted to the security officers and the security officers qualifications. There is a public perception that a security officer is there to open the gate and close it which is unacceptable. Most often security officer is forgotten because it is thought that the security officer is ill-paid and uneducated by organisations. But this is wrong as the first person that you will report to when there is an incident is the security officer and respond to the incident and put himself at risk to protect others. The perception creates low morale and lack of commitment amongst the security officers as well as unwillingness to participate in training.

Having reviewed various training manuals for security officers, security officers training for investigations are basic and theoretical not practical. Usually, security companies are under a lot of pressure to deploy security officers to clients to make money hence insufficient training being carried out to the team. Usually, the deployment is done at short notice.

Moreover, on-site security training induction must be carried out to ensure that the team familiarise with the location and understands the risk areas to ensure that those areas are fully protected as well as procedures and policies. Regular risk assessments and reports to the client to ensure that the client is fully aware of the risks identified for security improvements. In my experience when you have identified risk and inform the client when there is a security incident the client cannot point a finger at you or blame you.

What are the recommendations? Security officers whether hired or outsourced must undergo criminal investigation training. This training must not only be theoretical but practical. The training must be carried out at least twice a year and you must not assume that there is not going to be a security incident. Security officers must be able to be trained on giving evidence at court as they could be a witness to an incident one day. By doing this it will help to deter crime and apprehension of offenders by preserving the crime scene and assisting law enforcement agencies.

What are the guidelines in terms of security officers training? ASIS International and Security industry association (SIA) have good guidelines on security officers training. However, you need to ensure that security trainers are trained to carry out the training as per the requirements.

Conclusively, the evidence suggests that criminal investigations training is paramount to the security officers to investigate the security incidents as a first responder and preserve the crime for the law enforcement agencies. The training gaps must be covered by in-house and security providers to ensure that the security officers are competent to carry the first responder investigations when responding or reporting to a crime.

Crime costs organisations significant amount, utilising security officers with appropriate training and equipment as well as integrating security technology will reduce the costs which in the long run bring a return on investment to the organisations. Businesses are always looking to save money to maximise their returns and therefore, security companies or in-house security within organisations must look at creating a competitive advantage within their security team.

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