For those of you that are film buffs you may have watched “Eat, Pray, Love” in which Julia Roberts found her word.  It was “attraversiamo” meaning “let’s cross over”.  So hold that thought as our CEO explains her liking for a word she read today – which was “interoperability” (check it out at Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interoperability}.  This word sums up her approach to an article which caught her eye in the US publication “Security”.  Whilst this new word, doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, it does reflect our thinking on the need for greater collaboration between the private sector and public safety response.

Shergroup is privileged on many levels to have enjoyed access to the UK police in its daring operations to evict activists from a variety of properties – including world heritage sites such as Parliament Square and St Paul’s Cathedral in London.  In so doing it has balanced its enforcement responsibilities alongside the need for public safety.  It has found the police to be professional and open to the partnership.  These operations have displayed large amounts of interoperability.  Whilst these partnerships are based on a statutory requirement for the police, they could still be strained if the wrong approach were taken.  Instead we have found our policing partners to be highly supportive of what Shergroup needs to achieve and willing to support on many levels.  Only this week Claire Sandbrook was engaged with one London Borough policing team where activists had entered local government offices.  The police were responsive and engaged with what needed to be done, and it was just a question of figuring out the date for implementation of the eviction.  Protests across London during July have left policing resources stretched, which meant the eviction process had to take its turn in a long list of other priorities.  Our CEO always takes a pragmatic approach to such situations and worked with the police to keep them informed and aware of her dynamic risk assessment.  As it was the protestors left of their own volition so there was no need to take up any more police time.  But the approach taken by Shergroup ensures the police see us as a partner in the process of achieving law and order, without creating unnecessary tension.

So it was the article in the Security magazine that then caught our CEO’s eye and her new word came on to her radar – interoperability.  This word sums up Mrs Sandbrook’s own thinking, on the need for closer ties between private security (or enforcement) and public safety.  It is something she has been crafting in Shergroup for 25 years.  In the enforcement world, Shergroup can rely on a statutory provision to seek police support.  Outside of this they are a private sector company, whether it be in the UK or US.  And yet they are delivering services which support policing operations in terms of public safety.

In the article (see http://bit.ly/2ZmHbKL ) the writer reported on the lack of collaboration between the private security officer who discovered the active shooter at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas on October 1 2017 and the fact that, despite being shot in the leg, he had no way to connect directly to the police without going via 911.  The writer points out that going through 911 means talking to an operator who works through a script to triage the incident before actioning the required emergency service.  In an active shooter situation vital minutes are lost as this process is worked through.

In fact this one example should be enough to get people scratching their heads over this new word – interoperability.  This word is about how the two stakeholders bring their operations together to solve the issue – here the one of critical communication.  The issue was one of saving the public from an active shooter.  It doesn’t get any more vital than that.  A senior police officer commenting on the situation was quoted as saying, “Now you have two elements of armed people responding to the same incident.  Clearly it makes sense for them to be able to talk to each other. Communications deconflict potential problems in a joint response.”

The article goes on to say how to create true interoperability, changes have to be made both by the police and by private security.  And that’s absolute fine – it’s a question of evolving and learning from incidents – some of which are so awful they should speed up the implementation process.  The Mandalay Bay shooting is yet another example of the need for faster thinking.

The article calls for better training of the private security guarding community, and this is an ongoing requirement – and not just in the United States.

In order to create an interoperable comms environment between security and public safety, changes would have to be made on both sides. And we think that police forces across the world are missing a trick if they are not engaging with the private security industry to enhance communication, identify areas to improve, and generally view private security operations as a stakeholder in their overall policing planning.

In the United States there are about 600,000 police officers and there are between 1 and 2 million private security officers.  If something happens the way it did at Mandalay Bay, the security person is going to be the first responder because they are actually on site.  Interoperabllity in a response plan means a first responder has direct access to the police and emergency services to warn of the location of the shooter, and to activate evacuation plans for the surroundings.

Going back to the word chosen by Julia Roberts – attraversiamo – we support crossing over to a new world of interoperability where the task of building coherent services for is achieved through collaboration.  This collaboration is achieved even when the individual components (police/private security/emergency services) are technically different and managed by different organizations.  In the end they all come together to achieve a safe and reliable system of public safety.

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