Is private security getting less private?

The world of private security has always been perceived as one of secrecy and mystery but of late there seems to be a sea of change.

The lack of one unified system for vetting Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) has meant that until now ship owners have had to organise site visits and conduct due diligence by themselves.

Of late some security providers, in an effort to distinguish themselves from others, have opened their doors to the industry at large by organising open days.

Ambrey Risk is one example of a security provider who has recently held open days. According to the Brockhampton based company, the purpose of the event was to promote transparency and openness.

Commenting on the decision to hold an Open Day, James Gasson-Hargreaves, Business Management Director of Ambrey Risk, said that “The purpose of the Open Day was to introduce ourselves to stakeholders across the maritime industry and to take advantage of this occasion to be as open and honest as is possible to be about what we do, why we do it, and how we achieve our objectives.”

The Open Day wasn’t just about demonstrating the company’s facilities and services though, Ambrey also took the opportunity to update participants on the current piracy situation. Karen Jacques of Dryad Maritime observed that, although the total number of piracy attacks in 2012 was down, Somali piracy is not dead, however, the downward trend is likely to continue. She felt that complacency was the greatest threat and that constant vigilance and the maintenance of best management practices was the answer to this risk.

Ambrey Risk has been expanding rapidly, so it comes as no surprise that the company won the Chamber of Commerce Award for Growth Business of the Year 2012, in Herefordshire last month.

So was this event just an opportunity for a market savvy business to drive up transit numbers? It could even have been a way of driving efficiency in being vetted by potential customers. One thing’s for sure, a few years ago an event like this would have been virtually unthinkable.

It is definitely a positive step that indicates that the private security market is finally maturing and ship owners are no longer willing to choose a security company purely on price. Private security companies now need to set themselves apart on the basis of quality, and this is just one way of doing that.

I predict that in the future we can expect to see a lot more open days. Having been hidden from the public eye for so long, are security companies enjoying the attention?


Written by Jo Chuter.

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