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Sham Security Training – Changing Practices

Sham Security Training – Changing Practices
15 March 2024

Mike Bullock from Corps Security outlines the changing landscape of security at a time of geopolitical and economic instability and how training practices must adapt.

Mike has worked for Corps Security for over a decade and became CEO in 2018. As the leader of the company, he has modernised the business by bringing it back to its roots. His work revitalises Corps’ original purpose from its 1859 foundation, to employ and support former service personnel who struggle in civilian jobs. As a strong advocate for the Real Living Wage, Mike sits on the Living Wage Foundations’ advisory board.



Picture: a photograph of Mike Bullock. Image Credit: Corps Security


The Problem of “Sham Training”


Increased protests, geopolitical tensions and the cost of living crisis have created difficult threat scenarios for security firms to navigate. With the world constantly changing and new conflicts arising daily, fully accredited security professionals are vital to keeping people and organisations safe.  

But what if their training doesn’t deliver? Last year, a BBC investigation uncovered that multiple companies offering Level 2 SIA door supervisor qualifications ran shortened courses that do not adhere to regulations. Instead of the mandatory 6-day course, the companies offered 1.5-to-3-day courses with additional fees, allowing trainees to miss mandatory, and vital, first aid modules. 

These sham training courses allowed security officers working in arenas, nightclubs, and other premises to falsely represent themselves as qualified to deal with emergency situations. The revelations sparked an unprofessional reputation for the industry. In the years before accredited licensing, security firms were plagued by rumours of underhand dealings and standards not being adhered to, which came to a head in the 2008 economic recession. 

The current economic landscape has many companies hoping to reduce budgets, which could make underhand dealings like this more prevalent. For an organisation like Corps, security officers require much more than one-time schemes and shortened course models. Comprehensive training is a constantly evolving task that requires significant funding, as well as internal and external audits to keep officers at the top of their game. We need well-trained, knowledgeable, and passionate people in physical security roles, and this requires routine testing and check-ins to measure their engagement and for us to deliver any additional support needed to deal with the constantly changing threat landscape. 


Changing Legislation, Changing Expectations 


Security training needs to keep all personnel up to date and ahead of the curve to anticipate security threats in the future. That’s why the shortened courses offered by some organisations are concerning. It is well reported that the improper training of guards has impacted the effectiveness of the security response in recent tragedies that have occurred. 

Paul Greaney KC, legal counsel to the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing enquiry, told the BBC that the attack could have been averted and more injured people could have been aided if on-the-door training was comprehensive. 

With the long awaited introduction of the “Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill”, otherwise known as Martyn’s Law, possibly coming into effect this year, higher training expectations will become mandatory. The “Standard” and “Enhanced” tiered properties will require heightened measures of security, risk assessments and new security procedures to instill a security culture and to ensure that individuals on the ground are more diligent around potential threats. 

The next stage of the bill’s development is focused on introducing a regulator to monitor and advise eligible premises on compliance. Security managers and firms need to be ahead of these changes and all staff will be required to be up to date on accredited training and internal procedures will have to be reviewed, either through an internal body or an external auditor. 

Incidents like the Manchester Arena attack should never happen again. Sham training schemes like those uncovered by the BBC risk future tragedies, and as an industry, it is essential that we work together to minimise that possibility. 


New Security Training Initiatives 


A crackdown on sham security training is a top priority, but so is considering new ways to invest and develop training programmes that respond to the evolving threat landscape. This should embrace new technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) which has the potential of being an ideal solution for those organisations looking for high-impact training that delivers enhanced knowledge retention for personnel. 

Notably, VR technology will increase trainee retention by up to 75 per cent in comparison to the 5-10 per cent standard for traditional methods, like reading and writing. E-learning programmes are a significant investment, but over time can be 64 per cent less expensive than traditional training methods, and up to four times faster. 

Rather than cut corners, VR training can keep officers up to date with security measures and practices by creating fully immersive training scenarios. Developers like MoonHub are an example of this: its work with Corps for internal training and for specific client scenarios has accelerated officer training and maximised retention.  

VR training does not provide an immediate solution to the sham training offered by some companies. However, with time, they could provide a solution to the cost and time pressures faced by the industry at an economically unstable time. 

The security industry needs to remain adaptive and malleable to respond to new threats and legislation. Preparation, proactive training, and in-depth support is needed for officers to keep the public, themselves, and their clients safe.

Picture: a photograph taken in a security control room, showing three people sitting at desks looking at multiple screens. Desktop screens are also projected onto a plain white wall. Image Credit: Corps Security


Article written by Mike Bullock | Published 15 March 2024


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