The minimum is not the standard

Tony Security 1 Comment

This week I had a conversation with another security consultant about the standards of conflict management and physical intervention training in Ireland (and further afield). The point that I made was the mindset of most organisations when it comes to training is wrong and it is fed by a culture of box ticking and ‘good enough’ mentality. There are the lonely few who strive to improve and provide training that goes above and beyond the minimum. That’s the subject of this article.

The minimum becomes the standard

There is nothing wrong with training in the security industry. Any training provider will provide you with training of a depth and length that you want and are willing to pay for). The problem is that nobody wants it. Government regulation across Ireland the UK and many other countries introduced MINIMUM levels of training for security staff and companies. Unfortunately due the mindset mentioned above that absolute minimum has become the standard. The MINIMUM level ticks a box for compliance so that’s as far as they go. They are happy to be the minimum but advertise as the best of those who are at the minimum to their customers.

I’m brought back to a quote I heard recently from Ivor Terret, a well respected security practitioner on a podcast. He said “the industry doesn’t need to be fixed it just needs to improved”. It stuck with me at the time. There’s nothing broken about the industry . It just needs a mindset shift to improve it. We need to start to recognise that any regulatory or compliance based training is the bare minimum required. It is not the optimum (or often even acceptable) standard of performance.This is exactly true of the entry level security programmes in many countries regardless of the sector. They are not meant to make anybody good at security. In fact, in Ireland a person who qualifies through the programme is not ( according to the programme aim) qualified to work without supervision. So often nowadays though we see the minimum entry level standard treated as the operational standard. In reality the programme teaches just enough knowledge and skills to enable a person to start operational training. That’s all it’s meant to do.

The conversation I was having last week related to physical intervention training. The subject was that the physical intervention taught on entry level training wasn’t enough (2-6 hours) . That’s what’s prescribed on the lesson plan for this persons particular system. I don’t teach any PI on entry level courses. The time frame doesn’t allow for a sufficient amount of skills practice for a new person to become competent. Therefore to teach skills in this way I believe makes them less safe. That’s not to say that the training is poor. It’s just not meant to make a person competent in physical skills. But once again the minimum is reflected as the standard when it’s not the case. There is nothing wrong with physical intervention in Ireland. I and other physical intervention instructors will gladly teach risk assessed and operationally proven PI skills over 1,2 5 or 10 days at any clients request. The learners will leave proficient at an operational level. Once again though it’s not all that common. The minimum (i.e entry level) is seen as sufficient.


The same thing argument applies to the ERO rates. ERO rates are minimum entry rates to the industry. They are not and were never meant to be the standard rate for the industry. Again minimum doesn’t equal standard. You can’t look for the best and pay for the minimum. That’s not how economics works. An industry with no incentive for reward has no incentive to improve. Thankfully there are a few clients and providers out there who see the value in this but in a price driven market where poor quality wins on price they are few and far between. 

My pet hates 

It’s not my place to tell a company or client or person how to, or whether to, spend their money. Those who complain that they never get any training do irritate me slightly though. There is absolutely nothing stopping any person going out and doing training on their own to bring themselves above the minimum standard to a proper operational standard. How many do it though? It’s easier to go on social media and say things like I’ve done my licence 2,3 or 10 years ago and I’m still on ABC rate and being treated terribly . What have you done to stand out from the thousands like you?


I don’t have an issue with a company claiming they are the cheapest or the best. The issue is the confusion between the minimum and the operational standard. You cannot in my opinion have a website or advert on LinkedIn claiming to supply the best, most professional, best trained, high quality security staff while simultaneously advertising in FB jobs groups for anybody with a licence (or without) to apply for a position starting tomorrow at €11.65. The two just don’t stand up. You’re either :

  1. Lying to yourself about your company and it’s quality
  2. Falsely advertising and selling services to clients who read your  advert

So where does it end?

I’ve said it before. It will only end when security staff stop accepting it. Many won’t like to hear this but there are still far too many people in the industry as a whole, and too many of those are of a low standard who are tolerated as they work cheaply. There are still far too few barriers to entry to the industry and no requirement to improve or maintain standards to remain in the industry. Less security operatives of a higher standard means higher pay and higher standards. That’s economics. Regulators have a part to play in that (even if they don’t seem interested in doing so at the moment) , so do employers , training providers and employees. 

I fear we are a long way away from that just yet though.  

Comments 1

  1. To retailers security is an economic cost.
    Much like an esb bill,necessary but adds nothing to there turnover.
    As such they will only pay the minimum for such a service.

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