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Security Institute AGM chairman's report

The Security Institute : 12 March, 2009  (Company News)
Awards ceremony and chairman's speech delivered at the Security Institute annual general meeting on London's South Bank
The Security Institute held its AGM at Vinopolis on the South Bank on 2nd March 2009, chaired by its President, Lord Carlile of Berriew QC. During the meeting the Chairman of the South African Institute of Security was presented with his Fellowship certificate of the (UK) Security Institute. The SAIS also made presentations to Lord Carlile, Geoff Whitfield and Bill Wyllie, and to the Security Institute on the occasion of its 10th Anniversary.

Two Awards were presented by Lord Carlile on behalf of the Security Institute.

The John Aplin Award, for outstanding performance in the Institute's professional examinations was awarded to Emma Thomas of Mitchells and Butler for her work on the Certificate of Security Management. She obtained the highest aggregate score that has ever been recorded in the Institute's examinations. John Aplin was a director of the former International Institute of Security, who was highly-regarded and much-loved, until his premature death. The award is made only in cases of exceptional performance.

The George van Schalkwyk Award recognizes security excellence in an individual, and it was no surprise to those present that this year's recipient was retiring Chairman Bill Wyllie, CPP FSyI FSAIS. He was chosen for his distinguished contribution to the enhancement of security professionalism, in recognition of his personal commitment to the highest standards of security practice and professional development, and of his key role in the ongoing development of the Security Institute. Bill received a standing ovation at this point.

Along with the usual business matters, the delegates also heard a presentation from Steve Collins of PS5 on "The dangers of Disguised and Clandestine Weapons". Steve is a relatively new member to the Security Institute; he is the CEO of PS5 an internationally recognised specialist security consultancy and training provider to the law enforcement, defence and the security sectors. He has become a familiar face worldwide, delivering training and lecturing to government bodies, law enforcement agencies and the corporate sector.

Following a secret ballot, Nigel Churton MBE FSyI was re-elected to the Board of the Security Institute for a further 3-year term. Also appointed to the Board of the Security Institute were Azeem Aleem FSyI (University of Portsmouth), Maria Cox MSyI (American Express) and Martin Smith FSyI (The Security Company International).

Reprinted below is the speech given by the Chairman

"You have all received a copy of this year's Annual report, which will tell you the story of another year of success and growth in your Institute. I do not intend to reiterate the details given there, other than to repeat the thanks of the Institute to all those who worked in any way towards this success, and also to thank you, the members, who are the Institute. And I will return to those thanks shortly. So, instead of talking about the year just passed, I intend to talk about the 10 years just passed, on this, the tenth anniversary - to the day - of the signing of our Memorandum and Articles of Association.

In mid-1998, 6 Committee members of Chapter 208 (UK) of ASIS International met to consider a new initiative to drive forward standards of security in practice, across the private and public sectors in the UK. Their initial discussions highlighted the fact that the discipline of security is often misunderstood by end-users, with a frequent lack of awareness of the benefits that high standards of security can bring to business and society.

The group's first idea was to find a way to communicate better to chief executives, human resources professionals and end-users of all types, the true nature of security as a professional field of activity. However, it was rapidly realised that there existed in the UK no objective system for measuring and accrediting the many high-calibre security practitioners operating across the country, or to distinguish them from the "cowboys".

The result of these discussions was the creation of The Security Institute, a body formed to "enhance the professionalism and profile of the business of security".

By early 1999, the existence of the Institute was a fact of life, and on St Chad's Day 1999, the 2nd of March - the Memorandum & Articles of Association of the Institute were signed. St Chad, you will know, was a 7th-century saint who practised saintliness in Mercia, which, appropriately enough in my case, left him travelling regularly across an area that stretched from about Chester to London.

The 6 founding members of the Institute were Ian Johnson, Chris Smith, Stewart Kidd, Stuart Lowden, Geoff Whitfield & me - 'tho John Smith has membership number 2 & John Almonds is number 5. Andrew Seymour was also one of the very earliest members, and has sent his congratulations to us here today.

Now, as I look around this gathering, I see many of dearest professional friends and some long-time allies, as well as some of my staunchest critics. All exactly as one would hope for in a vigorous professional body.

Your Institute long since passed enrolling its one-thousandth member - but that is only a number. What is more important is that, 10 years on from formation, we are a key component of the national professional security life. We have established a permanent office with its own staff, we have merged with the International Institute of Security to create a formidable training presence that sponsors security management training and qualification at Certificate and Diploma level, we form working parties to investigate best practice, we publish guides to best practice, we have a mentoring service for members, we take the message of the professionalisation of security to seminars, exhibitions and conferences all over the country - some 30 events last year, and we unashamedly network with fellow professionals - sometimes, let it be said, over a glass or two of wine, as we shall do tonight.

Of key importance in our activities is our working with Government, national skills bodies, trade associations and fellow professional organisations. Our key strategic partners are perhaps the BSIA and Skills for Security, and we seek to work closely with the SIA. But we are also inextricably-linked with the other professional bodies in the security constellation - more of that in a moment.

On the partnership front, I am delighted to be able to announce today that the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals has established a bursary to pay the costs for a student to undertake the Institute's Diploma course - information about this will be announced soon.

In summary, we are working solidly towards our founding vision - the enhancement of the professionalism and profile of the business of security in the UK. But this is only the beginning: we are a young organisation, and our real achievements all lie in the future. So what of that future?

This will be my last AGM from this side of the Boardroom table, as I am standing down as Chairman and from the Board. It is time to make room for the many talented individuals who are ready to take the Institute forward to do just that. And, from a personal dimension, my real day job requires more attention. I have spent almost all of the past 6 months out of the country, and that is not a situation that works well for the Institute. On that note, I must thank Di Thomas, who has had to work with a Chairman she rarely sees (a bonus, perhaps!) and who communicates with her by e-mail from a distant time-zone.

So, where will the new Board take us. That is not for me to either know or command, but I would like to suggest to them that they look in 3 directions - and this, perhaps, is my vision for the Institute's immediate future.

Firstly, chartered status. I think that you all know that the attainment of chartered status for the Institute is our principal medium-term goal. If security is to be treated seriously as a profession, then its practitioners must be recognised as the key players that they are. At a corporate level, the head of risk, or head of security, is as vital to corporate survival as is the corporate accountant or the corporate lawyer, and there must be a route by which that level of value can be acknowledged. But the granting of chartered status will not be an achievement in itself, it will be the recognition of the many achievements that we have to make to gain it.

Secondly, we need to be clear about where we stand in relation to the many other security associations that individuals can join. We are not seeking to compete; we are not seeking to take them over or put them out of business. But we are a large organisation, that is going to continue to grow. I say to them, let us work with you. Let us bring to the table our size and our resources, while you bring your specialist expertise in your individual areas, whether you be consultants, locksmiths, installers, investigators, trainers, bankers, or whatever. Together, we can work to raise standards, to bring an understanding of best-practice security into the public domain, and to persuade and influence government, and we can do this from the position of strength and authority given by a constellation of professional bodies.

And thirdly and finally, a plea from me for inclusiveness. It was never intended that this Institute should be a private club for the good ol' boys at the top end of the security salary spectrum - and we have certainly not moved in that direction to date. I suggest only that, if we are to fulfil our self-imposed remit of professionalising the business of security, then we must work, not only with all specialist sectors, but also with all levels of security input. How that will work in practice, we do not yet know: but my personal hope is that, one day, there will be a body known as the Security Institute, which is recognised as a lifetime "home" for anyone going into the business of security, from joining it as a security officer thro to taking a seat on the Board as Chief Security Officer 30 years later.

I would give the new Chairman and the new Board one word of warning. Everyone wants someone else to do it. You will receive many suggestions for new initiatives, but you will find your interlocutors somewhat reserved when you greet their proposals with enthusiasm and invite them to help you run with their new ideas. As ever, it is often those who talk the least that do the most - tho' where that leaves me, I'm not entirely sure!

It is always hazardous to try to pay tribute to key individuals - it is never possible to mention everyone. But I cannot let today pass without speaking briefly of the seminal roles played by such people as Doug Cook, Patricia Knight, Stewart Kidd, John Rose & John Allan, Chris Brogan, Fred Wood, and also people who have not necessarily served in the public eye, but who have been outstanding supporters in the background, such as Lynne Davies at BP.

(Each retiring director was then presented with a personalised bottle of Scotch, before Bill spoke in some detail of the lifetime dedication to the security profession of retiring directors Peter Jones and Bruce Woodcock, whose security careers spanned a large part of the latter half of the 20th century.

Finally, presentations were made to Di Thomas and Paula Stanbridge, as Bill spoke of their immense contribution to the life and success of the Institute.)

On behalf of the founding 6, and the many of who come since, I echo the words of W B Yeats in saying to the new Board - "tread softly, because you tread on (our) dreams".

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