We’ve spent the last year supporting local authorities, hospitals, care homes and various private organisations in the protection and security of their facilities. Mind you, we weren’t sure we would be able to at the start. Amongst the confusion of the initial (and back then unprecedented) lockdown, one key question remained - were security guards key workers?

Reflecting on 2020: Were security guards key workers?

As we get halfway through April, we can’t help but reflect on the last 13 months. It’s been a rather crazy year for NES Security Services – certainly the most unique in our 15-year history. While the packed schedule of our sister company – Newman Event Services – was almost erased overnight when the UK went into the first lockdown, our diary has been busier than ever. We’ve spent the last year supporting local authorities, hospitals, care homes and various private organisations in the protection and security of their facilities. Mind you, we weren’t sure we would be able to at the start. Amongst the confusion of the initial (and back then unprecedented) lockdown, one key question remained – were security guards key workers?

Amidst the threat of supermarkets being overwhelmed by the British public rushing to stockpile household goods, the role of the security guard suddenly came to the forefront of the national consciousness. Understandably, next to the heroes in the NHS, we weren’t exactly considered a priority to get key worker status. However, the truth is, the security industry was well equipped to play a vital support role in keeping the country going. We did receive some clarity (to a degree) when Ian Todd, Chief Executive of the Security Industry Authority, released a statement announcing security guards were key workers but only in specific environments. These were determined to be hospitals, social care, courts, government estates, supermarkets, utilities and national infrastructure. Thankfully for NES Security Services, these are many of the customers we support.

Of course, this wasn’t the end of such a challenging period. In fact, it was just the beginning. As well as protecting clients property and personnel, we also had to ensure our own professionals were adequately protected. We put in place extensive covid-secure protocols to ensure our staff worked in conditions as safely as possible. The news that male security guards, taxi drivers and construction workers were among those most at risk of dying of Covid-19 was particularly worrying. However, our brave men and women continued to play their part in keeping the country running and supporting our clients. For that, we’ll forever be hugely grateful. 

So what kind of work have we been doing over the past twelve months? Pretty much delivering a wide-spectrum of security solutions across a variety of industries. Whether it’s manned security for NHS hospital services, local authority facilities and private school grounds or keyholding and alarm response for commercial premises that are empty as staff work from home, we’ve done it all.

There’s a few jobs that stand out as particularly memorable though. We worked with one County Council on their rough-sleepers programme, helping the vulnerable to move into three hotels allocated for their use during the lockdown period. Our presence provided security and reassurance for all of the residents and it was rewarding to see them relax in comfort, free from the uncertainty of living on the streets. It’s the jobs that give something back to the community that make you feel like your making a positive contribution.

You may recall there were major concerns at one point about overcrowding in the nation’s green spaces and seaside resorts, with many questioning whether social distancing was being adhered to. We’d already partnered closely with a town council to avoid similar scenes in their local park. The area, which was previously closed at the beginning of lockdown, had recently been reopened under the management of council staff. However, they quickly identified the need for an experienced security partner to step in over the weekend, so we combined with Newman Event Services to provide comprehensive support. The brief was to maintain social distancing and ensure that no groups gathered, so we set up a consultation meeting with the authority, providing advice on entrances, path layouts, signage and manned security. During the meeting we devised a response planning strategy and discussed a series of “what if” scenarios to which subsequent actions were agreed. An immediate area of concern for the client had been the popular skatepark with a capacity of up to eight people at a time; we therefore created and managed a queueing system, solving this problem. Again, it was good to help people get back out and about in the park after being restricted since the start of lockdown. The feedback we received from the public was positive as they felt they could use the facilities safely during what was clearly a very worrying time.

Finally, we can’t forget our time helping to deliver some sense of normality back to the British public as we played an integral role at one of the UK’s first ever Covid-compliant festivals. Also Festival, which took place in Compton Verney, Warwickshire, even featured in The Guardian where it was billed as the UK’s “biggest festival”. Not a bad place to receive coverage! We worked alongside Newman Event Services to provide first-aid trained security staff covering event security from start-to-finish. In keeping with our group’s customer-centric focus, we helped to play an integral role in the success of the event, assisting with entry-point temperature checks and the on-site marshalling of traffic. It really did encompass the full extent of our event security solutions and was all the more pleasing when we received positive feedback from the event organisers regarding our services.

With the roadmap in full swing and all social restrictions to (hopefully) be lifted by June 21st, we’re optimistic about the summer and the rest of 2021. We’re proud to have a loyal customer base and a trustworthy reputation that continues to open up new opportunities and partnerships. Our team is excited to continue supporting our wide-range of customers and, with the events industry set to resume this summer, managing security at some exciting concerts and festivals. Fingers crossed it all happens.

So, were security guards key workers? We think they were. Whether it was keeping everyone safe at the supermarket, helping to manage the nation’s social spaces or restoring a little sense of normality to the British Public, we think it’s fair to say the security industry has played its part over the last 12 months. Whilst all the plaudits should rightly go to our NHS Heroes, we do hope the sector gets a little bit of recognition for the part it has played in helping to keep the country moving.