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Security Operative basics: Setting the standard

Tony Security Leave a Comment

Short rant crossed with a basic message this week. Is it just me or have standards dropped in the security industry in the last few years. I’m not talking about the standard of person entering the industry or standards of work conditions. I’m talking about the standards of how we look, act and behave while on duty. Maybe its just me turning into an old grouch but I’ve definitely noticed a decline. I could be wrong but I’ve definitely noticed an increase in not shaving, not ironing, wearing runners with uniforms and all of the other small irritating things that drive me crazy. Has this now become acceptable in the industry? Whats caused it? Or am I completely wrong and turning into a grumpy old man? This is not for the experienced professionals who show up to work every day like they should. Its for the new people who see these things happening and think its ok. Its for the people who want to know how to look and act professionally and its for the supervisors who have let this slip into their teams without them

The case for the prosecution

I’m not going to sit here claiming to be a well groomed male model who has always wandered into work looking like a Greek god. I also understand that trends change and things like beards, stubble and visible tattoos are now acceptable. No issue with that and some of the best people I know in the industry have all of the above. I’ve also been known to wander into work with a hangover in my wild youthful days. I did however always make the effort to show up to work properly. On time, in uniform and professional. What I’m talking about is laziness and lack of effort. In the past two weeks I’ve begun counting. So far in 14 days I’ve seen 8 security operative in various static, corporate and retail contracts and working for various companies wearing runners with a uniform. Have we gone that far?
I’ve also seen 4 security operatives wearing shirts that look like they had been driven over by a herd of buffalo before being put on that morning. One had a ketchup stain that didn’t look like it had appeared in the previous number of days.  Is this now ok as well? I’m reading back the previous two paragraphs and feeling like a cross between my grandmother and Victor Meldrew. I cant be alone though. I’m sure that that if I asked everybody to list the worst presented security operative they had seen recently there would be some horrors in there. From mismatched uniforms to Johnny Rambo types with camo paint and combat belts it’s definitely getting worse.

Having cake and eating it

As an industry we cant have it both ways. We cant look to be recognised as a professional industry while standing back and accepting that this is ok in our industry. We cant moan about pay and conditions and quality of new entrants while simultaneously not saying anything to the person beside us with the cigarette hanging from their mouth while on duty. Saw this twice last week as well at two separate very high profile sites. We also cant be expected to go around dressing people who work with us or monitoring their fashion sense. So what can we do? Is it down to poor recruitment or poor supervision? Where are the supervisors and managers and clients responsible for these people. For every one of those people who show up to work like they don’t care it means that every professional who does care has to work that little bit harder to create the positive impression of the industry. That’s not right in my opinion. If they’re an experienced person its very hard to broach the subject but if they aren’t I think we all have a duty to educate the next generation as to where the bar is set before they begin to pick up those poor habits as being normal.


Getting the basics right

Again, this section isn’t for those out there who do this anyway. It’s to show what I believe the standard to be for new entrants.
One of the key qualities I speak about to businesses, security professionals and learners is the importance of the standard of appearance of security staff. Whether in retail, corporate or door sectors, the security team is the face of the business. Usually the first point of contact for customers, the general public, visitors and those with criminal intent. The appearance and first impression made by the first security operative directly reflects on the client, the employer, the officer, the team and indeed the entire security industry.
Appearance standards for me come down to 2 principles:
  • You should show up to working looking like your there to work.
  • You should appear every day like you would want people to think of you.
‘Every day is a job interview’. Every person through your door is a potential client, employer or criminal. Each one of them assessing your ability to do your job based primarily on your appearance.
As a professional you are paid to show up to work looking professional. That includes:
  • Clean shaven (or at least tidy)
  • Polished shoes
  • Full uniform
  • Cleaned and ironed clothes
  • Washed and groomed
Of course it’s understandable that we have sleepless nights, sick children, late wake ups and all the rest of life’s unexpected problems to contend with, but that’s when the second principle comes in. When you look in the mirror before leaving for work think to yourself “is this how I want the public to see me”? 

The dont’s

The obvious stuff that clients, customers and the public shouldn’t see.  The stuff that there really isn’t any excuse for.
No :
  • Smoking
  • Chewing gum
  • Spitting
  • Dirty clothes

We really shouldn’t need to be saying this to other staff but it still needs to be said to some.


The vast majority of the industry apply these principles every day of the week when they show up to work. As always the vast majority of silent professionals have their image tarnished by the noticeable minority.  I would ask every person reading this post to remember them and apply them. This is how we want the public to see our industry.
Feel free to comment and share your own opinions below. I’m interested to see if I am just a grumpy old man or if this is becoming a bigger issue in our industry.

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