Corps Security Looking Back To Look Forward

The end of a year is always a chance to look back on the previous 12 months and look forward to the following year. And 2020 has given us plenty to reflect on.

The pandemic has undeniably been devastating to many lives and livelihoods – particularly security officers who, through a combination of age, sex, ethnicity, location and lifestyle, turned out to be disproportionally more likely to be affected by the virus than other occupations. But it has also given us the opportunity to completely rethink how we support our people and our customers.

Our people served on the front line of the pandemic. While management and admin staff worked from home, our security officers went out to work keeping our customers’ buildings secure and supporting the skeleton teams working in those facilities. People started to appreciate their security teams a great deal more and we believe that change will be permanent.

Supporting our people’s wellbeing has always been our main priority but the pandemic has really brought this to the forefront and shone a spotlight on the extent of the challenges faced by our colleagues. We conducted a report in the early summer about the high death rate among security officers and we’ve increased our commitment to their wellbeing as a result. It’s essential our officers are safe and secure – it’s not just about them delivering security to others and keeping others safe. Our colleague portal has considerably ramped up and now has a separate colleague wellbeing section that offers support on mental wellbeing, exercise and nutrition.

One of our biggest challenges this year has been working effectively with customers and colleagues from afar. Our contract managers have been used to being out in the field carrying out audits and reviews and having valuable face-to-face contact with our people and customers. We’ve had to find new ways to achieve this remotely. Our online customer portal, Corps Secure, has been instrumental in making more remote practices a success. It has given us the ability to measure and manage our service delivery effectively even if our management team cannot always be physically present.

At the same time, we’ve had to keep up to speed with our customers’ constantly changing requirements as the pandemic changed to working practices and premises shut down or were partially occupied at different stages. It’s been essential to be adaptable and flexible and to think differently. Our officers have changed their shift patterns to adjust to these changing requirements, often becoming more mobile. We’ve also been increasingly using our Corps Monitoring capability with our alarm receiving centre in Glasgow, as many customers complemented physical security officers with security technology. Remaining agile and working even more closely with customers this year has been paramount.

The pandemic has taught us a great deal. It’s sparked a new level of compassion and made us more united, collaborative, resilient and innovative. It has also elevated the importance of our frontline security workers. We have always been an advocate of the Living Wage and we will only beat that drum louder now. Security is not just about security anymore. It’s about keeping people and places safe and secure. The role of the security officer has taken on a wellbeing responsibility and this is something that will become a permanent change and one that we expect to grow in the foreseeable future.

Corps Relay Intelligence Update December 2020

This month’s Corps Relay Intelligence Update includes:

Covid-19: Return to tiers

CCTV- do you know your licensing requirements?

Current national threat level

Recent terrorism developments

Demonstrations

  • Save Our Rights UK: Time for Action
  • Extinction Rebellion

Corps focus: security issue of the month

  • Counter terrorism – updated guidance and training materials

 

>> Download Corps Relay Intelligence Update December 2020 PDF

Diz Sollesse Shows The Female Side Of Remembrance Day

Last Wednesday, Diz Sollesse joined former serviceman Nigel Horne to lay wreaths at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey as part of Corps Security’s commemoration of Remembrance Day.

They placed wreaths both at the obelisk which commemorates the founder of the Corps of Commissionaires Captain Sir Edward Walter, and also on several graves of prominent commissionaires including Lance-Corporal James Hollowell from the 78th Highlanders and Drum Major William Kenny from the Gordon Highlanders. This took place before the national lockdown.

Diz, who acts as the executive assistant to the Corps board, is an honorary Australian Commissionaire, a title which was bestowed in 2018 following her work in re-establishing the links between the Corps of Commissionaires Association in Australia and the UK organisation.

Diz arranges joint events around Armistice Day in the UK, visits to the company cemetery and Walter family ancestral home, charitable endeavours and messages from the Corps President for special occasions. She was invited to attend the ANZAC ceremony in Melbourne in April which was unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic.

“There’s sometimes a perception that Remembrance Day is male-dominated but this is far from the case,” says Diz. “The armed forces, both in the UK and Australia, have many women within their ranks and of course many current and former servicewomen take part in Remembrance Day. The event itself is always led by our Chief Life Governor, Her Majesty the Queen. I’m proud to wear the Corps of Commissionaires Association Australia insignia.”

Salman Shamim Completes Race to Remember - Corps Security

Congratulations to Salman Shamim, our key accounts director, who yesterday completed the Race to Remember raising almost £2,500 for Combat Stress.

The Race to Remember on Remembrance Sunday was due to take him the 44 miles from Aldershot Garrison, over the South Downs to finish at HMS Victory in Portsmouth. Because of the lockdown, the event was sadly cancelled. Undeterred, Salman mapped out a 16-mile route around his hometown of Leeds and yesterday ran the course three times. The route included a total elevation gain of 4,980ft, which is more than 500ft higher than Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK.

“It was a tough run in difficult conditions, but it was such a small thing to do compared to the work Combat Stress does to support veterans affected by mental health issues,” he said. “I celebrated with my family back at home with a Chinese takeaway.”

Salman raised almost £1,500 from personal donations, and Corps Security will add an extra £1,000. His fundraising page remains open for anyone wanting to contribute:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/salman-dday

Salman had also planned to run the D-Day Ultramarathon in June but it was cancelled due to the pandemic and will now take place in 2021, so keep an eye out for news of his progress.

Corps Security Updated COVID-19 Measures November 2020

Please see a summary of the latest government requirements that came into effect on Thursday 5th November.

View the full updated Covid-19 measures here:

Please refer to local guidelines in areas where lockdown has occurred and check with devolved government websites for particular requirements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Corps Security Marks Living Wage Week

Today marks the start of Living Wage Week (9-15th November 2020), the annual celebration of the Living Wage movement. Over the next seven days organisations across the country will take part in online events organised by the Living Wage Foundation to recognise the key role the Living Wage plays in improving people’s lives and boosting productivity within business. At the same time, the Living Wage Foundation will today announce the new Living Wage rates across the UK, which employers have up to six months to introduce.

As a Living Wage employer, Corps firmly believes in paying its people the Living Wage. We are committed to pay all our office staff the Living Wage and to always offer a Living Wage bid alongside every market rate submitted to prospective and current clients. This means the client always has the choice to implement the Living Wage at the point of tender and there is a pathway towards the Living Wage for the provider in place.

Our CEO Mike Bullock also takes a leading role in championing the Living Wage in his role in the Living Wage Foundation’s Recognised Service Provider Leadership Group. The Leadership Group was set up to influence the FM marketplace around the Living Wage Recognition Programme for service providers, advise on overall strategy relating to the Living Wage and service provider recognition and its promotion in the facilities management and outsourcing sectors.

“As an organisation which was set up more than 160 years ago to provide employment for service men returning from the Crimean War, we are committed to always providing the highest standard of pay and support to our people,” says Mike Bullock. “Being a Living Wage employer is incredibly important to us and I am passionate about raising the standard of pay within the security sector. I am delighted to support Living Wage Week and am very much looking forward to attending a number of online events over the next week. Our security officers have served on the front line during this pandemic and they deserve the best rates of pay.”

Corps Security Remembers The Fallen

To mark Remembrance Sunday, Corps Security has laid wreaths at Brookwood Cemetery, where many of our fallen soldiers are buried. Earlier this week, before the national lockdown commenced, former serviceman Nigel Horne and honorary Australian Commissionaire Diz Sollesse, placed wreaths on the granite obelisk which commemorates the life of our founder Captain Sir Edward Walter.

They remembered Sergeant William Kenny from the Gordon Highlanders who was awarded the Victoria Cross and Cross of the Order of St George and mentioned in dispatches for his bravery during the Great War where he served across the Western Front. After being discharged in 1919, he joined the Corps of Commissionaires, working in Bond Street, Berkeley Square and the Park Royal. He was also a member of the VC guard at the internment of the unknown warrior on 11 November 2020.

Nigel and Diz also remembered Lance-Corporal James Hollowell from the 78th Highlanders who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his courage during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. He was described as a crack shot who successfully defended a burning house with nine fellow soldiers while the enemy, who vastly outnumbered the group, fired at them through the windows. He returned to England and joined the Corps of Commissionaires serving outside a gentleman’s outfitters on London’s Oxford Street.

We are proud of our military links and Remembrance Day firmly connects us to our 160-year-old military roots. Although celebrations are more muted this year, they are no less important.

Corps Relay Intelligence Update November 2020

This month’s Corps Relay Intelligence Update includes:

Current National Threat Level

  • United Kingdoms Terror Threat Level Increases

Recent Terrorism Developments

  • Vienna Shooting
  • French Attacks
  • What to do in the event of a Weapon/Terror Attack – Some guidance to share with Staff and Colleagues

COVID-19: Back in Lockdown

  • COVID Fraud
  • Mobile CCTV
  • COVID Response – Changes to Market Demand and Premises Use

Technology and you

  • Mobile Phones and Driving

Rise in Hate Crime

Armistice Day/Remembrance Sunday

Demonstrations

  • The Million Mask March – London 5th November 14:00-1800
  • Justice for Grenfell – London 5th November 11:30-13:00
  • Stand Up to Racism – Manchester 7th November 12:00

Notable Dates

  • Anniversary of the Bataclan/Paris Attacks

Corps Events Calendar

Corps Focus: Security Issue of the Month

  • COVID Response – Changes to Market Demand and Premises Use

 

>> Download Corps Relay Intelligence Update November 2020 PDF

Corps Security Marks Remembrance Day Under Lockdown

Corps Security is proud of its military links and Remembrance Day is an important part of our calendar. It firmly connects Corps Security to our 160-year-old military roots.

But this year’s Remembrance Day, like so much else about 2020, will be different. Instead of taking part in the National Service of Remembrance March Past and laying wreaths at the Cenotaph and other memorials across the UK as in previous years, we will be in another national lockdown.

Instead, Nigel Horne, our regional operations director who joined Corps following nine years of service in The British Army, will be laying wreaths to represent the three main entities of the Corps (UK, Australia and Canada) at our cemetery in Brookwood the day before lockdown starts. He will also visit the military cemeteries for the Allied nations there at the same time.

“Although the commemorations for Remembrance Day will be subdued this year, they are no less important than in previous years,” said Mike Bullock, CEO of Corps Security. “Founded in 1859 to address the employment difficulties faced by ex-servicemen on return from the Crimean War, we still employ a large number of ex-military personnel and Remembrance Day marks a historic link of unity for the team. We will remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Horne, who is also champion for Corps’ participation in the Remembrance Day commemorations added: “Having come from a military background, I know first-hand that events like this link us all to our roots and to something bigger than ourselves. This year our teams have been on a different front line, supporting our clients through the pandemic, often working in challenging conditions. Remembrance Day is a reminder that our founding military values of loyalty, integrity and service still prevail today.”

Corps Relay Special Bulletin Vienna Terror Attack

Vienna Terror Attack (2nd November 2020) and UK’s Terrorism Threat Level Upgraded to SEVERE

 

>> Download Full Vienna Attack Special Bulletin PDF

A lone gunman attacked six locations in central Vienna on Monday evening, starting outside the main synagogue. Witnesses described the man firing into crowds in bars with automatic rifles, as many people took advantage of the last evening before a nationwide curfew was introduced because of COVID-19. Police confirmed on Tuesday that four civilians were killed in the attacks – two men and two woman – with 23 others wounded, including a police officer.

Austrian police were initially hunting for several assailants, but subsequently announced that there was only one gunman who was shot dead by police as he fired on passers-by.

Austrian authorities named the gunman as a Kujtim Fejzulai, an “Islamist terrorist” who had been jailed for 22 months in April 2019 for trying to travel to Syria to join IS jihadists. He was released early in December under more lenient terms for young adults, after convincing the authorities that he no longer held extremist Islamist views. Originally from North Macedonia, Fejzulai had both Austrian and Macedonian citizenship. He had posted a photo on a social media, showing himself with weapons, before the attack. Police searched Fejzulai’s home and seized video material. As well as being heavily armed, he was wearing a fake explosive belt.

The gunman opened fire with a shortened Kalashnikov assault rifle, but was also armed with a machete and a pistol. Police sealed off much of the historic centre of Vienna, urging the public to shelter in place. Many sought refuge in bars and hotels, while public transport throughout the old town was shut down and police scoured the city.

Whilst it is unclear if the gunman was intending to target the Jewish community, it is possible that having noted that the synagogue was closed and secure, he decided to rain his terror on anyone in the area. Significantly, previous attacks on synagogues such as the synagogue in Halle, Germany demonstrates that even automatic machine gunfire could not immediately break through robust wooden doors, and this may have been a factor in the incident, given that the Stadttempel synagogue is protected by heavy wooden doors, and may also have appeared to be empty of people at the time of the attack.

>> Download Full Vienna Attack Special Bulletin PDF