The greatest risk to security is the security industry itself

Lee Doddridge (Custom)
Lee Doddridge, Director of Covenant.

Counter Terror 2014, the 6th edition of the leading security exhibition, is beginning to take shape, with over 400 exhibitors signing up to take part and an estimated 9,500+ visitors expected to attend.

The event features a comprehensive display of technology, equipment, and services alongside a programme of education designed to help defend against ever evolving security threats. Taking advantage of the event’s many conferences and workshops will be a wide range of professionals from government, military, law enforcement, emergency services, critical national infrastructure, security services and the private sector.

One of the key speakers at Counter Terror 2014 will be security specialist Lee Doddridge, Director of security consultancy Covenant and he agreed to speak to Philip Ingram. Following an exemplary military career, where he gained insight into security while serving within reconnaissance and intelligence, Lee embarked on a career with the police force. It was during this time that he was appointed as National Security Adviser within the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, Centre for the Protection of Critical National Infrastructure, advising on venues from G8 and British Embassies, to the Ryder Cup and national businesses.

Speaking about his upcoming involvement with Counter Terror 2014, Lee said, “I have spoken at three previous Counter Terror events, so it was a pleasure to accept the invitation to speak at the 2014 exhibition. I consider Counter Terror as the must attend event on the calendar for the security sector, and it is a great way to communicate with the top counter terror professionals from around the world. It is important that events like this continue to grow, as it provides the ideal venue for the vital pooling of knowledge to ensure the ongoing protection against threats to security.”

Titled ‘Striking a balance between Public and Private Sector advice’, Lee’s speech promises to be an informative topic. Having worked at the highest levels of both Public and Private Sectors, Lee is ideally positioned to deliver a well-adjusted perspective.

“My aim is not to criticise the current Public and Private Sectors, but provide a realistic understanding of what needs to be adopted.” Lee continued, saying, “The Public Sector can only provide the very best broad generic advice, this is because they are not allowed to specify or promote specific companies and technology. They are also restrained by current financial cuts and a finite number of advisers. Companies need to embrace the information provided by the Public Sector and learn to research the Private Sector to enhance this advice.

Covenant Logo (Custom)“In my presentation, I will highlight a number of case studies, including examples such as a national company who took the advice of the Public Sector, and applied Private Sector knowledge to save over £900,000. We need to broaden our views and use the best of both sectors to defeat terrorism and secure our industries and commerce.”

Lee went on to say, “The lack of effective balancing of the advice provided by the Public Sector with the vast range of options within the Private Sector is a major gap in the security industry that creates unnecessary risk. Take for example Public Sector advice that states Anti-Fragmentation (Anti-Shatter) film must be applied to glazing systems.

“While this is absolutely correct, what the Public Sector cannot advise on is which system should be used in each circumstance. It’s the Private Sector that provides this information, and in some cases you need to understand that it’s not a sales pitch to sell the system complete with edge retention in certain installations, it’s simply an essential feature that decreases the risk of harm.  There has to be cooperation and a balance of information from either side to make sure information is 100% accurate.”

Terrorism is a constant threat in the modern world, with extremist Islamic groups continuing to draw media attention. However, Lee takes a unique view on what he considers to be today’s main counter terrorism and security risk around the world, and this perspective greatly drives and informs his upcoming presentation.

“The current threat from extremist Islamist groups is diverse, yes, and you could say that the resilience of these groups has enabled them to retain an, albeit reduced, effectiveness and reach.

“However, I will be bold and say there are also other immediate threats to our security. I have observed time and time again throughout my career one of the largest risks to security – the security industry itself.”

Lee elaborates, saying, “The industry is still largely unregulated at a senior level, therefore misunderstanding former roles, such as Senior Police or Military Officers, as security experts is all too common. It is taken as a given that such personnel have a broad understanding and the skills to mitigate and design out the effects of terrorism.

Former senior public sector personnel make great managers and strategy planners, there is no doubt about that. However, the skill set and experience was with the subject matter experts they managed. Only a limited number of individuals have the required experience and skills within the counter terrorism security market, the new chairman of ASIS, Andy Williams is a perfect example of such a person who has made immeasurable impacts through his work and TinyG.  The mistake is when we assume that a senior or grand title carries all the essential skills and experience. In the long run, the solution to mitigate this threat comes down to basic pre-employment screening, investigating curriculum vitae’s and industry recognition such as the new Chartered Security Professional (CSyP).”

To hear more of Lee’s perspective on counter terror measures, you can see his presentation, which will be followed by a Q&A session, at Counter Terror 2014 on Wednesday 30th April between 1200-1230 at the Grand Hall, Olympia.

Make sure you register to attend Counter Terror 2014 by entering your details here, and you can find out more about Lee Doddridge’s security consultancy company Covenant by visiting their website here and reading their short brochure.

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