2019 Armed Forces Day

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Today, the 29th June 2019, is Armed Forces Day in the United Kingdom, where the public are encouraged to show support for our Armed Forces and to recognise the work they do and the sacrifices they make. 

The military is extremely close to our hearts at Westacre Security, and we employ a high number of serving reservists and ex-military personnel. Most of our senior staff have previously served in The Armed Forces, so we fully understand the difficulties faced by our military personnel who do an exceptionally tough job, and we will continue to maintain these close ties with the UK Armed Forces in the future. 

We have supported a range of military charities over the last few years, with many of our personnel volunteering to support events, or organising endurance challenges, rugby games and other fundraising activities. We are a member of the Armed Forces Covenant and current holders of a Silver Award in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme. 

Reserves Day

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Today is Reserves Day, which forms part of Armed Forces Week leading up to Armed Forces Day this Saturday 29th June 2019. Reserves day is intended to raise awareness and show recognition for the work of our reservists who balance a civilian life with service in the Army, RAF and Navy. 

Reservists give up their spare time to serve in the Reserve Forces to ensure that should their country require them, they would be ready to serve as part of the military. Over the last 17 years, over 35,000 reservists have served on operations worldwide, making an immense contribution. 

The Reserve Forces make up approximately one sixth of our Armed Forces personnel and as such are integral to protecting the nation’s security at home and overseas, particularly providing capability in specialist areas such as medical and cyber. Reservists are currently supporting operations worldwide including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain, Estonia, South Sudan, Cyprus and Somalia.

Westacre Security recruit the majority of our personnel from within the Armed Forces community, with both ex-regular and serving reservist personnel accounting for over 90% of our staff. 

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Stoll - Housing and Helping Veterans

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Sir Oswald Stoll’s legacy spans both the worlds of Theatre and Philanthropy. A shrewd businessman, Sir Oswald had shown a keen interest in economics at school. After some tough early years, Stoll joined with Moss and Thornton to create Moss Empires in 1900, eventually opening 28 “Empires” up and down the country. These included the iconic London Hippodrome and Coliseum, which staged the first Royal Variety Shows in 1912.

When British troops were returning home from WWI with physical and mental injury, Sir Oswald was at the forefront of the debate of how best to support returning wounded Veterans. Using his standing and contacts, Sir Oswald set about establishing the War Seal Foundation, which provided a place to call home and vital support for injured Veterans and their families.

He was knighted for his philanthropic efforts in the same year and the War Seal Foundation was renamed the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation in his honour. The Fulham mansions is the original site that Sir Oswald donated to begin housing Veterans in 1916 and remains today.

Today, Stoll continues to be at the forefront of housing and support for vulnerable ex-Servicemen and women. Some Veterans struggle to adapt to civilian life when they leave the Armed Forces. Stoll support the most vulnerable Veterans by assessing an individual’s needs and then arranging appropriate support.

This can include a new affordable home to rent, developing people’s skills to enable a Veteran to get a job and supporting people’s health needs. Once a Veteran is living independently, on firm foundations, they support them as they move on from Stoll and always encourage this where possible.

A home with Stoll

Stoll provide over 250 affordable homes for vulnerable Veterans to rent. They currently operate four schemes in West London and are building 34 new homes in the garrison town of Aldershot. Find out more…

Veterans’ Nomination Scheme

Stoll arrange accommodation for people leaving the Armed Forces and Veterans. They work with housing associations and local authorities across the country to find appropriate accommodation, mainly for single Veterans. They have arranged a home for over 404 Veterans in this way. Find out more…

London Transition Outreach Service

Stoll outreach staff work with Service Leavers and Veterans in London, including those who are wounded, injured or sick, to address their specific needs. Different Veterans may need different support and Stoll’s advice and support are tailored to meet people’s individual requirements. This can include help to find a home to rent or a washing machine or cooker for your kitchen. The outreach team also provide benefits advice and work with people who have mental health needs, drug and alcohol addictions and other needs. Find out more…

Veterans’ Drop-In

Every month Stoll host the Veterans’ Drop – In which provides an opportunity for people, especially Service Leavers, to discuss issues with other Veterans and a wide range of Veterans’ agencies. Find out more…

Meeting people’s health needs

Stoll work in partnership with leading providers of drug and alcohol, and mental health services to the Veterans community, and they can provide access to these and a wide range of other support services. Find out more…

Skills and training

Stoll’s skills development programmes include English language, CV writing and IT classes to help people build their skills and return to work. Find out more…

Finding work

Stoll offer bespoke employment advice to help people get a civilian job, volunteer role or further training. Find out more…

Independent Living Service

Stoll also offer tailored support to enable people to live independently. Around sixty of their residents use a daily Independent Living Service. Find out more…

Support and wellbeing

A comprehensive range of activities and social events is available for residents from tai chi to archery club, from dinners and dances to darts night. Find out more…

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Veteran Owned Business

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Westacre Security are a proud member of the Veteran Owned community which recognises businesses run by military veterans. Their aim is to gain veteran owned businesses greater exposure to the public through a user-friendly online directory and to help veteran owned businesses to build closer working relationships between the military community. The database allows members of the public to specifically search for a veteran owned business and benefit from the military ethos that comes with it.

Veteran Owned aims to have 19000 businesses listed within 5 years and build a strong community from the estimated 187k active veteran owned businesses in the UK currently, becoming a household name like ‘Checkatrade’ or ‘Yellow Pages’.

Security Training Courses

Spaces available on the following course:

  • COURSE: BTEC Level 3 Close Protection (CP).

  • CERTIFICATION: Through Pearsons/Edexcel.

  • START DATE: 13th May 2019.

  • DURATION: 16 days, accommodation included.

  • LOCATION: Orlando, Florida.

  • COST: £1350 (excluding flights which are around £350).

Firearms course also available 26th May 2019.

Please contact us to book your place or for further info.

 
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Company Rebranding

SRX Security is now Westacre Security.

SRX was established in February 2011 and over the following eight years earned a reputation as the ‘go-to’ security provider for high-net-worth families, their property and business interests. As well as the Head Office in the UK, the company established bases in the South of France and in the United Arab Emirates in order to facilitate an increasing range of projects all over the world. A growing portfolio of clients ensured the company was kept busy and challenged, but still managing to retain a keen interest in supporting the UK Armed Forces Community and associated charities. In the summer of 2018, SRX was recognised by the Ministry of Defence for their support of Veterans and Reservists, receiving a Silver Award as part of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.

In late 2018, with differing aspirations by the current Directors, it was agreed to break-up SRX. The clients, personnel, experience, qualifications, knowledge and ethos came over to the newly formed company which was shortly to become Westacre Security.

Whilst the old SRX will continues to trade, Westacre has embarked upon an exciting new journey where we endeavour to become the best boutique private security company in the world. One of the major changes will see new departments established in Cyber Security, Training, Investigations and Technical Security (Alarm, Access Control, CCTV). With specialist departments to implement our core security capabilities, Westacre are able to provide both single capabilities or bespoke full security solutions packages. By using our own in-house departments, we are able to ensure an exceptional level of service, project managed by experienced Team Leaders with maximum discretion and professionalism.

The eight years of operational history has not been erased, it comes forward with the people who have moved to Westacre Security. So whilst we are, on paper, a new company we are operationally very experienced.

As the global security threat climate continues to change we are seeing more and more people jump on the security ‘bandwagon’ with the market becoming saturated with second-rate companies run by inexperienced and unqualified managers with very little experience in actually doing security on the ground. This means that, more than ever, it is imperative to choose a security provider who have the right credentials - that’s why we believe Westacre Security will set the benchmark for boutique private security companies.

Westacre will also continue to support the Armed Forces community by having a high employment percentage of military Veterans and Reservists - we are currently operating on 100% for permanently employed staff and 75% for contractors. We are helping several service leavers in their transition from military to civilian life by providing business start-up assistance and mentoring as well as supporting military charities as often as we can.

Finally, we would like to make the statement that ‘SRX Security or SRX North East Ltd have no affiliation to Westacre Security whatsoever, nor are we able to verify or endorse any of their capabilities’.

 
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Boxing Night

Westacre personnel attended the annual Hire a Hero charity boxing night at Wellington Barracks in London. The event is one of the highlights of our social calendar and this year was up there with the best ever in our opinion.

Hire a Hero are our chosen military charity which we have committed to support. They do a fantastic job to help those leaving the Armed Forces to make the transition to civilian life - something we know all about at Westacre. Find out more about the charity’s work here.

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First Aid Training

Westacre Training provide First Aid Training courses which give you the knowledge and skills to deal with a variety of medical scenarios. Our instructors are all vastly experienced in the delivery of First Aid Training and all have individual experiences in putting their skills to use in ‘real’ situations including on recent military operations whilst serving as medics in the UK Armed Forces. The training courses can be delivered at your workplace, in your home or at one of our training venues with accredited certificates available for all attendees.


First World War Film Casting

A UK casting company are looking for men aged 16-35 for filming in spring and summer year near Salisbury. All roles are paid with food and costumes provided, no previous experience required.

The film is a First World War production by Sam Mendes - an English stage and film director best known for directing the drama film American Beauty which earned him the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Director, the crime film Road to Perdition and the James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre.

Apply here.

 
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Happy New Year!

2018 was another extremely challenging year in the private security industry, with the surge in terrorist activity and street violence giving way in the mainstream media to news on Brexit. We did finally hear senior police figures starting to acknowledge, over the last 12 months, that they are struggling to cope with an increase in crime and a lack of funding - perhaps the realisation that repeatedly releasing statements to say crime is on the decrease to calm public fears means that budgets are unlikely to be increased. Crime statistics remained very difficult to assess, with more reclassifications and confusion over different methods of recording crime statistics meaning people are generally less confident about their accuracy. Parts of the country (mostly in London and immediately outside the M25) have seen an increase in foreign criminal organised crime gangs, with new gangs from South American adding to the already large list of gangs from Eastern Europe.

The cyber threat is back in the headlines following a series of massive data breaches (Facebook, Marriott, British Airways, Timehop, Reddit, My Heritage). With GDPR enforcement coming into effect from the start of 2019, we can expect to see some hefty fines issued to companies who suffer data breaches.

Westacre continued to cement our reputation in France and Monaco in 2018, increasing our presence in the region during the summer months as we continue to provide integrated security solutions to high-net-worth families, their property and business interests. 

2018 saw the launch of two new affiliate companies - Westacre CCTV and Westacre Cyber, both of which were introduced to take-on the increased workload in those specialised fields. Soon to follow in 2019 will be Westacre Training and Westacre Investigations - exciting times as the company continues to meet our milestones with growth goals being achieved well ahead of schedule.

Finally, the work of the British Armed Forces continues into 2019, with deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria ongoing, as well as our military making preparations at home to step in and assist should there be any sort of catastrophic loss of functions post-Brexit. Westacre will continue to support our own reservist personnel as they make a contribution as well as continuing our support to the Hire a Hero charity.

Happy New Year and stay safe in 2019. 

 
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UK Terrorism Arrests

Figures have been released in the UK which show levels of terrorist arrests made in the year to June 2018. The figures show arrests as being down from the previous year, but that was due to an unusually high number of arrests made immediately following the terrorist incidents in Manchester and London in May and June 2017. The threat remains SEVERE as the intent and opportunity are still there. There were 1600 'Subjects of Interest' in 2006; there are over 3000 now. CTC and MI5 have over 700 active investigations - also the highest ever. Despite the demise of the IS caliphate, the end of global Jihadism is still a long way from over.

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We Will Remember Them

As we pause this week to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we should try and remember the reasons why we recognise this day. We should ensure it doesn’t become a politically correct ‘box ticking’ day where we feel obliged to wear a poppy or we use remembrance day as a tool to promote ourselves or for commercial gain. Buying and wearing a poppy is a great way of contributing financially to the Royal British Legion, but it is equally important to actually take the time to think about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Whatever your views on individual conflicts and their politics, the men and women of our Armed Forces have no choice which conflicts they fight in - they go and fight because they are ordered to go and fight. The poppy is not a symbol of war glory and it is not a sign of your approval or any particular conflict, but it is an important tool in the complicated process of our long term safety and security in our country. If you don’t approve of certain conflicts then fine, but don’t not approve of the concept of brave men and women who are prepared to protect us from danger - to protect us from terrorists blowing up our children in our streets, or to protect us from fires and floods when called to do so, or to protect us from invasion by an evil occupying force by being an important deterrant.

This year marks 100 years since the armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, marking the end of the First World War. This signing at Compiègne in France took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning - the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918.

Whilst remembrance day will continue to be recognised in our country, it is anticipated that the horrors of the First World War will start to be slowly erased from the minds of future generations as the next 100 years are lived out. Whilst that is a normal process and one which is probably necessary in order to move forward in history, we should never forget the ferocity of the First World War. It was a war fought by civilians who had received very little training as most of the professional army of the day were killed in the early stages of the conflict. Normal everyday men signed up and went to the battlefields to fight for our country with so many killed or maimed. We have to ask whether as individuals, if we would make that sacrifice again today, should it be required? For those who have never served in the military, please try and imagine what it might be like to leave your family, your home, your job, your hobbies and your friends behind and go overseas to fight in a war which may result in you never coming home.

Westacre have a strong military connection with over 90% of our personnel having served or still serving in the Armed Forces. Many of our personnel will be taking the time to remember friends and colleagues who have died during active service in modern conflicts such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, the Balkans and as part of the Global War on Terror. Remembering those who you knew is easy and that process occurs all throughout the year, not just on Remembrance Day, but we should try and give our thoughts and prayers to those who we didn’t know - to the parents grieving for their children killed in battle or for kids who will grow up without a mum or dad.

The term ‘fighting’ is associated with war and conflict so we often assume this is a soldier firing his gun at the enemy. But the concept of fighting a war is far more than just infantry soldiers in close combat. The fighting process might involved a medic who is fighting to save the life of someone who is injured (friend or foe), or a truck driver who is fighting to get crucial supplies to the front line, or a helicopter pilot who is fighting to drop off troops for their next mission. Just being in a war zone is dangerous and many who have been killed have been done so in non-combat situations, so regardless of which fight they are fighting, the sacrifice is the same and the loss is the same.

At 1100 on the 11th November 2018, please take some time out from your busy schedule to pause and remember. It doesn’t have to be a one minute or a two minute silence, but instead, put down your phone or switch off your TV or computer and spend a good ten or twenty minutes actually thinking about those heroes who have made a sacrifice. In fact, spend the whole day with those thoughts in your mind, remembering how lucky we are to live in relative peace and to have all the life choices we have thanks to brave men and women who chose to fight.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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UK Police Priorities

With confusing crime statistics and misleading media reports it is difficult to ascertain whether the everyday threat of crime within the UK is on the increase. It is commonly felt from within the security industry that crime is on the rise and with police priorities shifting, in recent years, away from burglary and violent crimes, the emphasis for security is being placed on the homeowners themselves.

Whether part of a solutions package, or a single requirement, Westacre can provide an independent and objective assessment of security threats and vulnerabilities for both commercial and private clients.

John Apter, the Chair of the Police Federation, has called for ‘common sense’ in deciding on setting police priorities. Read his comments here.

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Police forces across the UK recently made a U-turn in their assessment of crime figures, so rather than assuring the public that crime was down, they now claim that crime is up. Many police forces blame the increases on changes to the way crime is recorded and an increased confidence of victims to report crimes. Whether this is the case is debatable, but there are certainly some crimes which are unlikely to be reported more or less, regardless of how they are recorded or how confident victims feel - burglary for example, is a crime which was always reported to the Police, and this is unlikely to change whilst there is a chance victims can be reunited with their stolen possessions or whilst insurance companies demand crime numbers for claims.

A common theory across the security industry is that the police U-turn in admitting crime is actually on a sharp increase is an attempt to secure more central funding from the government - funding won’t be increased if crime is down, as that means the current budgets are working well, but if crime is up then there can be a demand for increased funding.

People Skills and Private Security

THE IMPORTANCE OF PEOPLE SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

Probably the most overlooked aspects of a Private Security Operative's skillset are People Skills and Experience. We are seeing operational experience being shunned in favour of cheaper but less experienced personnel and people skills being forgotten due to a lack of understanding in the importance of personality in a security role. 

THE BAD OLD DAYS  

The Private Security Industry has come a long way in recent years, with legislation and accreditation seeing an end to the use of 'hired thugs' with their tattooed forearms and shaved heads, and the industry is in a far better place for it. But as we strive for more regulation and accreditation, is there too much emphasis on qualifications and licensing at the expense of the more traditional core attributes - operational experience and people skills?

SIA REGULATION

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) have done great things in the UK in setting standards and regulating individuals and companies in the industry, but they don't really provide a platform for clients to verify security operatives based on their experience or personality. For example, almost anybody can apply to become a licensed and qualified Close Protection Operative, as long as you pass the DBS check and attend a relatively short and simple course, then you can be out there 'on the ground' protecting clients. This has resulted in the security market being saturated with some very average operatives with no operational experience in security or poor people skills - many of whom end up working in security training companies to teach others. The exception to this are ex-military personnel, who have a key role in the Security Industry and remain pivotal to the effectiveness and reputation of most of the best private security companies.

EXPERIENCE

The reason why military personnel are so suited to the security industry is that they have many tangible skills and therefore are operationally experienced in the fundamental principles of security - whether that be standing on the gate of a camp in the UK or manning an Observation Post in a combat zone, they have an inherent 'sense' for threats and risks and ask any soldier how long they have 'stagged-on' for in their career and they will tell you - too long! Further to this, military personnel have been tested under extreme pressure, often carrying out a security role where the consequences of failure are death, but without a military background it is very difficult to verify how a security operative will react should a real threat materialise.

PEOPLE SKILLS

On the personality and people skills side of things, this can also be an inherent skill of military personnel. Absolute honesty and integrity are words commonly associated with military people and this is essential as a security operative, but also very difficult to verify in someone without a military background. Security personnel are always 'human-facing', whether that be public-facing in a role such as Manned Guarding or client-facing in a role such as Close Protection. Often security personnel will be required to hold small-talk conversations with clients or build relationships with other staff such as housekeepers or drivers, so having good people skills is essential. Some may argue against this and say that as long as you're capable of dealing with a threat then you don't need to worry about interacting with the public or a client, but if we consider both Door Supervisors and Residential Security Teams, it becomes clear that people skills are actually just as important as your SIA badge or your NVQ in security. Take the example of a Door Supervisor - whilst you need personnel who are capable of physical intervention if required, good Door Supervisors will be able to diffuse a potential situation by talking and ultimately avoiding violence. In the example of a Residential Security Team - the Team Leader has a responsibility to gather intelligence on all threats regardless of how minor they may seem, in order to produce their security plan, so maintaining a good relationship with other staff such as gardeners or cleaners is essential in gathering intelligence in order to stay abreast of the threat.  

SUMMARY

So whilst there are, without doubt, plenty of good security operatives out there who are not ex-military, when selecting teams for security roles, it is a safe bet to utilise ex-military personnel. Less risk that you will end up with someone who's done a short course and has little operational experience, but instead, confident they will most likely have the right experience and personality for the job. Some aspects of our industry, such as family security, require a high emphasis on personality and people skills - often family security operatives work alone, heavily embedded in the family with a strong personal relationship with family members of all ages and sexes so it is imperative to fit seamlessly into this group, as if you were an actual family member. 

WESTACRE PERSONNEL

90% of our personnel are ex-military, all vastly experienced with years of operational security work under their belts in some of the best units in the UK Armed Forces. We choose our security teams carefully, ensuring we have the right balance of experience, qualifications and personality applicable to a particular client or even a specific task.