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Cowboy operators beware: Certification scheme breaks new ground

A register of competent installers and maintainers of electronic security and fire systems was launched recently. Endorsed by the BSIA, SSAIB, SIRA (a Dubai security regulator) and Tavcom Training, the CTSP Register includes individuals who have demonstrated that they have at least a year s experience and are suitably qualified in the disciplines including Video Surveillance Systems (CCTV), access control and fire, intrusion and hold-up alarm systems they claim to provide services in. The initiative, it is hoped, will help customers find trustworthy, suitably qualified operators and undermine cowboy traders.

But buyers of security installation or integration services can already filter prospects down to those certified by the SSAIB or NSI so what problem is the new certification solving? Where the CTSP Register breaks new ground is that individuals, not their employers, are certified. This makes it easier for security firms to recruit competent installers, in turn further reassuring their customers. Long bemoaned across the industry, the previous accreditation vacuum for individual installers has arguably allowed incompetent or unscrupulous traders to flourish. Installers and integrators are being urged to become Certified Technical Security Professionals (CTSP) to demonstrate their bona fides and enjoy greater exposure to potential customers. Registrants, whose presence on the register is subject to an ethics code and disciplinary process, can adorn their business cards, vehicle and marketing materials with the CTSP insignia. There is clear evidence many installation and maintenance jobs are often subcontracted, leading to unnecessary risks and potential claims. David Gill, MD, Linx International Group In a widely shared article published by IFSEC Global last November, Michael Lines, a senior consultant for security integrations, said that increasingly, suppliers who provide certification on their products also certify individuals. They often accept the transfer of individuals from one installer company to another.

Those of us who are reputable companies accept this even if it does mean the possibility of investing in training an individual only for them to move on after the event. Although, in real terms, this offers a stronger incentive to both parties to ensure satisfaction in the workplace and, hence, long-term staff retention. Equal footing Fast forward a year and Lines would surely back the principles underpinning the new register. If individual, independent installers had to be both accredited and certified, it would help the industry s overall professional standing, he wrote. It would help accredited businesses compete on an equal footing. It could also tie in with insurance, much as CORGI has achieved in the gas equipment installation business. David Gill, managing director of the Linx International Group, which owns CTSP backer Tavcom Training, has reflected on the problems that gave rise to the scheme: There was a lot of unrest about the lack of standards, he told Security Buyer in a recent interview. You can have a gold standard manufacturer, and a gold standard security system but there is no assurance for the end user that the installer of that system is qualified. There is clear evidence many installation and maintenance jobs are often subcontracted, leading to unnecessary risks and potential claims.

He hopes that, ultimately, the CTSP will reach critical mass and become the de facto gold standard for installer competence. I hope in time, that with strong industry backing, procurement managers seeking tenders for security systems will automatically specify that installation and maintenance work must be conducted by a registered CTSP technician. The CTSP Register is modelled on the framework used by the Register of Chartered Security Professionals the equivalent register for heads of security and other end users . I have personally experienced as a chartered security professional heightened respect from industry colleagues, members of other chartered professionals, clients and even the courts, Gill told Security Buyer. Gill also mentioned plans for networking opportunities, workshops, webinars, and possibly career advice related to the CTSP. Think about it: you wouldn t think of using a gas fitter who wasn t on the Gas Safe Register. Paul Tennant, group sales director, Tavcom Training Speaking to Professional Installer magazine, Tavcom group sales director Paul Tennant contrasts the existing status quo with the situation in the gas fitting trade. Think about it: you wouldn t think of using a gas fitter that wasn t on the Gas Safe Register (formerly CORGI). Security systems which fail due to incorrect installation, or substandard maintenance can result in major consequences for those responsible (for companies and directors), extending to criminal charges, litigation, untold reputational damage.

He also implies that the rapid evolution of technology is leaving many installers behind. Maintaining CTSP accreditation year after year would reassure customers that they are keeping pace with change, he suggests. These security systems (including fire detection) have advanced beyond all recognition in the last decade .. In response to this huge change in the market and in the absence of any meaningful regulation or code of conduct governing installers and maintenance technicians, a professional register has never been more necessary. Criteria Installers and integrators must demonstrate a minimum of 12 months practical experience and a minimum level 3 qualification such as a BTEC/City & Guilds or equivalent in one or more technical disciplines in order to gain certification. Two character references and no criminal convictions for dishonesty, assault or sexual crimes are also prerequisites. Registrants are required to maintain CPD (continual professional development) too. The CTSP Register, which charges a 50 annual fee to registrants, is now available online. I think this is a fantastic idea for the industry and for the individuals, said Lee Dowling, at installation firm West London Security.

Being able to show your professional skill set to employers and customers themselves will give them much greater confidence in you. Having been in the industry for nearly 10 years I have certainly come across some dreadful levels of workmanship which certainly doesn t match the standards required. Becoming a CTSP will certainly start filtering out the rough from the smooth and start bringing the level of installation work up to where standards should be. Said David Wilkinson, BSIA s director of technical services: We are very pleased to see this innovative register that recognises many of our security systems members. In such a challenging technical environment, it is more important than ever to demonstrate the professionalism of the personnel that represent our market sector. Free Download: The key to mitigating cybersecurity risks Exploiting IoT technology without creating cybersecurity vulnerabilities is one of the defining challenges in today s security landscape. This report will help you to see why third parties should adhere to secure by design principles and why the necessary convergence of IT and security departments demands a holistic approach .

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Emma is the Managing Director of Esoteric Ltd, a well established Electronic Sweeping, Counter-Espionage and Intelligence gathering company based in Woking, Surrey, which she founded in 1998. An MBA graduate, and a Chartered Security Professional (CSyP) Emma s early career was spent with the Royal Military Police, followed by a career in the Security Service (MI5). Emma is also a Board member of the Defence Industry Security Association (DISA); a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and a member of the Advisory Council for CSARN. She was a runner-up in the Association of Security Consultants Imbert Prize 2012.

Emma says: I have had the privilege of being a Director of the Institute for a number of years largely responsible for Finance and Validation. As Vice-Chairman (Business), I aim to ensure that the Institute continues to operate profitably and is prepared for continued growth. I aim to review and develop the on-going strategy of the organisation ensuring it meets the needs of our members; achieves our aims of Chartered Status and allows the Institute to be viewed as the pre-eminent Security body.

Garry is currently Head of Security Westminster Abbey having previously been Head of Security Operations for the banknote and passport manufacturers DeLaRue. Prior to this he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Military Police having served in Iraq, Bosnia and West Africa. This broad security background is complemented by having gained a MSc. in Policing Science (Portsmouth), a Pg.Dip. in Security Management (Loughborough) and PGCE in Higher Education (Surrey). His previous Institute activity has included participation in the Academic Board, launch of the new Standards remit, and he is the Institute lead on the annual Wilf Knight Award for students.

Garry says: The introduction of a Vice Chairman post for Operations is key to providing a focus on all Institute issues which are not part of the working business/financial framework. This therefore encompasses Standards, Academic and Student issues, Membership and Validation as well as Publications, Mentoring, Continuing Professional Development, Cyber Security and the newly added Public Sector Development (PSD) work stream. The Vice Chairman (Operations) will also take a lead part in planning and spearheading the Institute s journey towards chartered status .

In commenting on the new appointments, Mike Bluestone said: Although all Directors are volunteers, we run the Institute as a business, and for that reason it is vitally important we continue to development the strategy and management structure to deliver the core aims of the Institute. I am extremely fortunate to have a wealth of experience on the Board of Directors, which has been democratically elected by the membership. We all share the passion to help the Institute grow and provide a natural home for security professionals across the breadth and depth of the sector. I very much look forward to working closely with Emma and Garry, supported by the rest of the Board and staff to ensure we continue to meet member expectations.