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SJUK Exclusive: A long way since fixing tellies

November 8, 2022

British Security Industry Association Chief Executive Mike Reddington’s long career journey from apprentice TV repairman to influential industry leader has been an eventful one.

Mike Reddington took over the reins of the British Security Industry Association in 2019 just before the country entered the choppy waters of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With many security personnel in job that put them directly in harm’s way – it inevitably resulted in losses both directly and indirectly.

In time, the fallout from COVID-19 has served to highlight the issue of recruitment, retention and pay once more. The industry remains desperately short of people.

Yet the BSIA has retained members in the rank and file at time when the cost-of-living squeeze might make some rethink the cost of belonging to a trade association.

His tenure is a period which clearly has had a lasting effect, as he reflects: “We had to make some key decisions to ensure the effective running of the association in order to prosper on behalf of our members and the wider security which we did, and we have flourished since then.

“I believe the COVID-19 pandemic was a daunting situation for all of us with no one really knowing how this was going to play out.

“However, the BSIA stepped forward on behalf of our industry and played an important role to ensure our sector workers were included as key workers as the security sector provides such a vital link and support to blue-light services.”

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Reddington says that working with key stakeholders within the Government and the Security Industry Authority (SIA), the BSIA ensured members were recognised as being vital in protecting critical and national infrastructure in the UK.

How did the industry cope with the pandemic and how has it coped since?

Reddington says: “By playing a critical role during COVID-19, our members managed to operate at a serviceable level throughout the depths of the pandemic. However, like many industries, some of our members operated the furlough scheme to support their business through this period.

“Our members and the industry also lost some of their workforce through other factors other than COVID-19, including retirement and displacement following Brexit.

“The recruitment and retention of staff is a major issue across many sectors, including security, and this is a trend we are seeing continuing post-pandemic; in terms of security officer services, we need to boost the size of our licensed security officer population to more than 400,000 over the next 12 months, an increase of 12%, to meet growing demand.

“We are currently running a major recruitment and awareness campaign, called People, Property, Places: Professionally Protected which we believe will play a key role in addressing this issue.”

Apprentice

Reddington grew up in Leeds and attended St Kevin’s Secondary School in the West Yorkshire city.

He recalls: “My first job was as an apprentice TV and video engineer – this is when black and white sets were still around and we only had three channels available to watch. Then video recorders were launched, so I also used to service and repair those as well. I know I don’t look that old but sadly I am.”

Ten years in the TV and video game saw Reddington drift into working for computer banking systems.

He adds: “After qualifying as television and video engineer, I remained in that sector for 10 years and then moved into working on computer banking systems for Philips Business Systems for a number of years.

“I always wanted to move into sales. Strange I know, but I was just intrigued by the whole sales process.

“This is where my career started in the security industry, initially working for Racal Guardall then Gardiner Technology before moving on to join Ademco Microtech, who were subsequently acquired by Honeywell where I worked for 14 years, culminating in my final role as ADI EMEA General Manager.”  

Challenges

Rather than seeing challenges, Reddington prefers to encounter opportunities especially as technology and the industry evolves so quickly these days.

Reddington observes: “We look at challenges as opportunities; the industry is evolving at lightning speed, and as an Association we look at the issues with what solutions are at hand.

“AI (Artificial Intelligence) and AFR (Automatic Facial Recognition) are two of those issues which the BSIA is currently addressing through our industry-first legal and ethical use guide, which has been recognised by UK Government and is currently in the process of being developed into a British Standard.

“We are also looking into widening our membership scope to incorporate the many new strands of security, from cloud-based technology to analytics, plus others.”

Leaving aside the aftermath of the pandemic with a squeeze on living standards, rising prices and massive hikes expected in mortgage interest rates, how has the BSIA’s membership held up?

Reddington states: “The BSIA has a very robust membership retention rate, currently running at an unprecedented 97%, and since I joined the association, it hasn’t dropped below 93%.

“Although these are impressive figures, we are not complacent in our approach to continuing to provide a value-added membership service whilst being prepared for any potential economic turbulence that may come.

“In challenging economic times, expenses such as a trade association membership can come under review from company financial departments. However, we are confident that our members recognise the importance and value of BSIA membership and being part of ‘the voice of the professional security industry’ which provides them with a vehicle and a voice to shape and develop the professional security industry.”

Evolve

The BSIA’s priorities for the coming years are not only to keep up to speed with change but to develop the professionalism in the industry.

He says: “I believe it is important to evolve and keep pace with change and our priorities include addressing the issue of market disrupters – not to displace but to engage with – whilst addressing member concerns around labour resource and skills.

“We will also tackle the perception of security personnel, encourage more inclusivity and diversity within the sector and continue to deliver industry-first initiatives that are valuable to the members, such as our recent our CySPAG registration scheme and the second major research report on camera use in the UK, The Bigger Picture. “We will continue to work with our members in identifying best practice and influencing existing and creating new industry standards to further develop the professionalism of our sector.”

For more information, visit: www.bsia.co.uk

This article was originally published in the November 2022 edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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