The association on the front line

SND catches up with Simon Pears, Chair, International Professional Security Association (IPSA) to discuss front line security and the future landscape 

The International Professional Security Association (IPSA) is a membership association for individuals and companies working in the security and fire sector. 

The Association was formed over 60 years ago to ensure professionalism in the management of security operations. IPSA as an established and recognised worldwide professional organisation, provides, in accordance with growing demand, a specialised unrivalled service to industry/commerce. IPSA offers membership to those employed in the security sector and to those companies who supply services or materials used in connection with Fire & Security activities. 

IPSA aims to support front line officers & technicians by promoting their essential role to the wider industry and to government departments, as well as establishing and encouraging the science and professional practice of industrial and commercial security and all operations and expedients connected therewith while fostering ethical and professional standards of work. 

Security Buyer sits down with Simon Pears, Chair of IPSA. Simon Pears is a Chartered Security Professional (CSyP), which he gained in December 2013 – that is, one of the earlier holders of that certification – and has been an IPSA board member since 2012. 

How do you think the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the industry, and how have you been guiding your members? 

Our members are essential workers…you only have to check to see the impact. These men and women have done an amazing job. We owe them our gratitude. Which is why we completely changed our business model to offer security professionals working on the frontline free membership of IPSA. Security has shown itself to be a highly resilient service throughout the pandemic and we need to remember this once the pandemic is over. Our front line teams have been operating everyday to ensure businesses can trade and security roles in keeping people safe and secure has never been more important. We need to make sure this is not forgotten once people start to resume their normal activities.  

With COVID-19, have you been able to deliver training and learning virtually? 

In the Front-line Forum this issue became one of the questions asked by Matt Card, Acctive Security Systems. As a result, we carried out research and produced a report outing relevant information pertaining to the front-line. We have significantly expanded our sharing via social media and making sure front line teams keep the focus and we fully expect that when restrictions are lifted, virtual sessions will remain as it has been proven to be successful and efficient. 

You have become the voice for front line security operatives, how is this an important aspect of the sector? 

For the first time it is not a case of theory and research…we are doing the doing. The front-line is represented by the FLF (Front-line Forum and they are the voice. At IPSA we work towards the professionalising and developing people on the frontline. We do this by listening to the things that are important to the people that actually do the job. We listen to them, not the theory or ideology of what should be, but what is. We want to be trusted as the voice of the front-line. We are offering the opportunity to become a member of an established trade association with all the professional benefits of certification and the use of a post-nominal to signify you belong to a professional trade association – completely free of charge to the front-lineTo ensure we stay aligned and relevant, the Chair of the FLF, who is a front line security officer, is part of the IPSA Management Board. This is a true difference with IPSA. 

What is one of the biggest trends you see today? 

We do see the trend towards technology, however the role of the human being can never be fully replaced. Yes, the industry can become more efficient and embrace technology and in return the role of the front line teams become more technical and varied. This can only be seen as a positive. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the security industry? 

Physical security roles are perceived as low skill and low pay. The reality is that these roles are in the main, highly skilled roles that require a variety of skills including problem solving, conflict management, client engagement, customer service and technical knowledge. The pay needs to reflect the responsibility and IPSA is engaging with stakeholders and decision makers to ensure front line teams are properly recognised and rewarded. 

What benefits does becoming a member provide? 

By joining IPSA you are confirming your commitment to professionalise the sector, abide by the standards expected and portray the industry in a professional manner. As an IPSA member you have access to industry professionals who can guide and coach you in your career and via our app, you can agree to become a mentor to others within the industry. Within the app, you are also updated with security related news from around the world, and have access to offers and training materials  

You are launching a new app, how will this benefit your members? 

For the first time individuals working on the front-line who perhaps have been prohibited from joining a trade association due to the cost, can now be a member of IPSA free of charge.  It is our ‘thank you’ to the front-line for their service during the pandemic. Having the IPSA App in their pocket the front-line worker will be able to interact with their feelings and be cognisant of their welfare on a daily basis.