Regulate or Regret
According to George Orwell,“People sleep peaceably in their beds only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf”. The famous quote was heard at the IMO today, as the Maritime Safety Committee debated provisions to monitor and control private security providers.
Peter Cook, co-founder of SAMI (the Security Association for the Maritime Industry), made a presentation entitled, “Regulate or Regret”. With the shipping industry seemingly increasingly reliant on private security providers the message was clear, that robust standards and thorough checks are needed to safeguard standards.
The presentation, delivered as Peter attended as part of the Marshall Islands delegation, stressed the importance of regulation and of how the shipping industry needs a means to recognise quality security companies, how the middle ground companies need to be encouraged and guided to improve, and the bad security companies need to be regulated out of the equation.
The incredible surge in piracy attacks and the need for a pragmatic response has inevitably created a demand for security, which in turn creates new problems. The burgeoning business opportunities have seen many new companies appearing in the market, but who are they and how can we safeguard the standards in place?
Unfortunately some companies operate without adequate experience, without necessary licenses to carry arms and without the insurances necessary to protect clients and employees in the event of something going wrong. However, there are some signs of progress as the Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) brings together security companies and the maritime industry to forge robust, reliable and reassuring vetting processes and standards. Shipowners can now turn to providers who are members of SAMI, safe in the knowledge that the company is of a certain level.
Peter recognised concerns over the quality of some security providers, “It is fair to say that the current business opportunity is attracting companies who have gained experience ashore rather than at sea. This does have implications for the quality of service, the understanding of seafarers and ships, and of the foundations many start-up firms are built upon. He added, “The vetting standards we are developing mean that all can be sure of the quality they can expect from a SAMI member company.”
All too often choosing a security provider has been done on trust, until now there was no real way of knowing the standard of those employed. With today’s security marketplace a mix of established names and new start-ups, membership of SAMI will help to clarify and clear the confusion.
SAMI has been established with the support of the Marshall Islands administration and a range of reputable international maritime security companies. Safeguarding and promoting the very highest of professional standards, while ensuring that security providers are subject to robust checks and a thorough due diligence process are vital stages in mitigating the risk of accidents, injuries and loss of life.