Academy first

How to bring a higher calibre of person into the private security sector – and more varied backgrounds: more women, younger entrants, and from minorities? Rather than recruit from former or retired police, HM Prisons and the armed forces, why not take school-leavers? If the armed forces takes 16 or 18-year-olds, why cannot private security? Much depends on schools and careers teaching, and giving teachers and pupils alike models to follow. Hence a Nottinghamshire secondary school is of interest for their ‘uniformed services’ courses for 16 to 18-year-olds. Cardinal Academy, in partnership with training providers Training for Success (TFS) report that they are part of the first ACPO Academy, launching in September with the new academic year at Ashfield School at Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

They have designed a level two training course in community safety that will be awarded by Industry Qualifications (IQ). The content will mirror the existing adult award that can lead to the accreditation of some basic police powers under the Home Office approved Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS). The training company reports it will be delivered through sessions themed around a rolling case study and delivered by trainers drawn from a number of disciplines including the police and wider criminal justice system.

Rob McHarg, the TFS lead, said: “The TFS course will equip successful pupils with a skill-set that will provide them with a significant appreciation and application of the key aspects that underpin local community safety and will offer up a potential future career path within the private security sector and the wider criminal justice system.” In more detail, the students learn what is the ‘extended police family’, about crime reduction and problem-solving in community safety; the law for accredited persons; and how to do the work – to communicate, manage conflict and be assertive, and the principles of risk-assessment. ‘Learning outcomes’ include being able to record evidence, understand how to manage a crime scene or incident; use radio and other comms equipment; and to deal with emergencies.

It’s a chicken and egg situation. Young people won’t even think of private security as a possible career, but until they do, how can private security, competing with other sectors for new blood, change perceptions – that security is for middle-aged men? Education is changing – consider all the universities offering policing, or police studies, or police-related courses, linking with police forces, which are seeking to offer ways for officers to professionalise. And many colleges for 16 to 18-year-olds offer uniformed services BTEC courses, with a view to teenagers going into the blue light services or armed forces, by learning about navigation by map and compass, first aid, and ‘functional skills’ such as English, maths and IT, to function in the workplace. Ashfield School, the second largest school in the UK, opened in 1964 and has 2,600 pupils and 600 sixth form students. It has run a uniformed services course for several years under sixth form teacher Julie Taylor; the course started with one class of students and is now being delivered to four. Ashfield is the first in the UK to offer the CSAS plus BTEC qualification. That course will start in September and run for one academic year, as an ‘enrichment programme’ as part of uniformed services. Some 30 pupils are signed up to take part. All of the trainers used for the Cardinal Academy are external trainers with specialist skills in law enforcement. Trainers will be either serving or recently retired police officers with a background in police training and specific knowledge and experience of community safety issues and the extended police family idea. It is a collaboration of a school, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and commercial trainers managed by Cardinal Academy. The retail security contractor The Cardinal Group is helping the school fund a new classroom. What’s in it for the school? It’s one more course to offer a stepping-stone for young people looking towards work. It raises awareness of the career opportunities available within private security. And what’s in it for Cardinal? A chance to fill a skills gap. The school stresses the uniformed services course is as real and practical as possible. For example, recently pupils courtesy of Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service responded to a re-enactment of a chemical incident as did occur locally a year before. Half the students were based in the mobile control unit, the other half in the incident room at the Bestwood Lodge fire headquarters. The students went through the radio communications side of the simulation and all passed their assessment. Many of the uniformed services students have gone on to the military, including the Royal Marines. As elsewhere in the UK, Nottinghamshire police and Fire & Rescue Service have restricted recruitment over the last few years that has made it hard for students to join. This has now been lifted, the school reports.