The Security Industry vs Guns and Knives
Against a background of rising levels of gun and knife crime, Leisuresec’s Risk Assessment team report on how to protect the hard-working security staff for whom this trend is more than a statistic – it’s something they meet face-on in the course of their work.
Official figures reveal the tragic statistic that knife crime across England and Wales has risen for the first time in four years. Police recorded 26,370 offences in 2014/15, up from 25,974 the previous year - breaking a downward trend since 2010/11.
Shootings increased by a shocking 28.6% in the first half of 2015 compared to the same peiod in the previous year.
The Danger Zone
Those alarming statistics now mean that security companies have to factor into their risk assessments the increasing probability of their Guards being exposed to attacks with weapons during the course of performing their duties.
Protecting the public from some of the less desirable persons in society means placing oneself in the danger zone but hopefully not without assessing the risks and adopting a safe operating strategy.
There are skills acquired by some of our very experienced security operatives which almost give the impression that they have ‘Derren Brown-like’ powers to detect dangerous situations such as members of the public carrying concealed weapons!
In reality, they are reading body language. On occasions where there is only time for random searches these ‘sixth-sense-like’ capabilities are invaluable.
Many of us in the security sector are from a generation where boys were taught to stand up to bullies and defend others weaker than themselves. Most of us have followed that advice through our lives and it has served well and in effect it was perfect preparation for a career in security.
However, now it is our turn to advise our sons we are faced with a serious dilemma: This advice could easily result in their facing real danger. Not the bare knuckle and wrestling skirmishes we had to face but the cowardly use of a knife or gun that is so casually resorted to in modern times.
Clearly these old fashioned ideals really are out of step - so do we tell them to walk away and live to tell the tale?
It is too easy to categorise victims of knife and gun assaults as problems for gang members or similar people involved in activities that have well-known violent connotations - in other words they knew the risk they were taking and only have themselves to blame.
That is far too simplistic a view and as old-fashioned and out-of-step as the advice for dealing with bullies.
The reality is that young people who carry weapons do so because they understand that today there is far more chance of being confronted by a member of a gang or an individual with a weapon than there is of being confronted and searched by a police officer.
On the one hand, they may be arrested and possibly face a prison sentence. But on the other hand, they could die or be seriously wounded.
So they believe that it’s a risk worth taking.
While there is no excuse to carry a weapon, in official surveys people say they carry a knife or gun for different reasons:
- Peer pressure
- To gain respect, power or control
So certainly not all people who carry weapons intend to use them.
But if you're carrying a weapon and you get into an argument, the situation is more likely to get out of hand and you are more likely to use it, potentially injuring someone.
Or it could be used against you with fatal consequences.
Many people who carry knives or guns don't realise what they're getting themselves into:
By carrying a knife, you are much more likely to increase your chances of being a victim of a knife attack.
Imitation firearms and BB guns
Such things are widely available – but they are illegal and can seriously injure or scare people as much as a real gun. If caught you could still go to prison for carrying one in a public place.
Political Correctness vs Stop and Search
The government and the police are taking this issue seriously and it’s worth checking GOV.UK to see the actions being undertaken in detail: banning Zombie knives, injunctions against gangs, government and major retailers uniting to tackle knife crime, more government support for communities to end gang violence.
The most effective measure that can be taken is the significant increase in stop and search teams deployed in inner city areas where gangs congregate and where dance and other social events (almost an oxymoron) are being held;
I realise that when I make the statement above most people will immediately think about racial profiling associated with this law.
My answer is that as long as the profiling of gang members who carry knives is accurately undertaken then the activity is intelligence-led and not racially discriminatory.
Political correctness should not encumber crime prevention.
In reality, this activity could save many lives and in particular those who may feel discriminated against by this pro-active police strategy.
There are several very important caveats I would add here in the interests of not perpetuating negative stereotypes nor unnecessarily humiliating sectors of our society.
The stop and search procedures ideally would include a combination of overt plain clothes and uniformed police officers.
Those uniformed should be covertly positioned away from public view. All parties would be wearing body-worn recording devices for evidential impartiality purposes.
For the purposes associated with being a mobile unit there should be a purpose-designed tent or easily-assembled private enclosure deployed – with ‘Community Support’ or some similarly positive project name boldly printed - and this is where the person fitting the profile of a weapon carrier would be asked by the plain clothes officer to enter to undergo a search.
The body cams would also prevent any false allegations of assault.
These additional elements will reduce the stigma already endured by law-abiding minority groups when passing members of the public might otherwise see yet another non-white man being searched on the high street or resisting arrest.
It won’t matter to them that he probably has broken no laws - most people will take the ‘no smoke without fire’ view and yet again the negative image is seemingly justified.
The Futile Resistance to Search
The normal futile resistance to a search is fuelled by the impression this gives to onlookers and the embarrassment and humiliation that the targeted person has to endure. He understands that his public searching feeds the general public’s perception of certain minority groups.
These lessons were learned in alcohol and drugs-fuelled environments where, in order to search a suspicious customer, it was best to politely direct them to a private area where they would be more likely to co-operate.
Attempts to conduct the same search in full view of friends and/or family encountered inevitable resistance – quite simply because no-one wants to ‘lose face’ or feel even slightly humiliated in front of their peers.
It may well be the case that, despite these additional courtesies, the person of interest still resists and creates a public spectacle but these instances would be fewer; and with the correct approach most reasonable people would see the benefit of co-operating. After all, if one is being searched for weapons, ones ‘enemies’ are undergoing the same process!
A career in security makes cynics of us, because we have to consider the worst case scenarios in order to create a safe working procedure. But the ‘cause and effect’ aspect of our risk analysis process indicates that this approach would gradually reduce weapons on our streets without public outcry
Let us hope that with the good work of decent people, eventually fewer and fewer young men will feel the genuine need to carry a weapon.
(For expert advice and specialist training in dealing with weapons in a security role we unreservedly recommend consulting with Steve Collins Founder and CEO of PS5 www.ps5.com )
Knife and gun crime can affect anyone, not just people in gangs:
- Innocent bystanders can get caught in the middle of other people's disputes and suffer trauma, serious injuries or worse.
- There is no ‘safe place’ on the body to stab or shoot someone.
- A wound in the arm or the leg can still be life threatening.
- Young people have died from wounds to the leg because their artery was severed.
- Knives and guns have the potential to kill as well as injure
If someone is killed, the consequences are devastating for friends and relatives of both the victim and the person who is responsible for the murder.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of knife or gun crime, or maybe you're somehow involved in another way, there's support available. Go to http://www.droptheweapons.org/droptheknife.html
Every gun and knife tragedy started with choices. This short film looks at those choices and their consequences