Grab the moment; and get serious about security

I’m Peter Webster, chief executive of Corps Security, and this is where I examine the issues affecting the security industry. My thoughts and opinions are intended to generate debate and whether you agree or disagree with them, you’re welcome to post your comments below.

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I wrote in a previous blog that cybersecurity is more than just an IT issue, and that physical security and IT teams must communicate effectively to better understand their respective roles, and ensure business operations are kept safe from harm.

The news that Sony Pictures has cancelled the release of its film The Interview this Christmas after sustained pressure from a hacking collective is particularly shocking, and as I write this the White House has described the security breach as a “serious national security matter.”

Certainly, it’s hard to imagine a more destructive breach of security in terms of damage to the reputation of a business – damage that, in time, may exceed the immediate financial loss that will arise from the film not being shown in cinemas at what is the busiest time of the year for cinema goers.

There are of course also implications for freedom of speech. What does it say when an anonymous collection of hackers (whether operating on their own, sponsored by rogue states, or funded by criminal enterprises), can blackmail a multi-billion dollar organisation and get their own way?

The decision to pull the film from a theatrical release was made on the back of threats made by hackers to the film’s audience, and the combination of cybercrime and physical threat is a particularly unpleasant and, it seems, potent mix. Questions may be asked about Sony Pictures’ reaction to the security breach, and I was heartened to hear President Barack Obama urge US citizens to “go to the movies” and so stand up to what is bullying on a massive scale.

If anything positive is to be taken from this, it may be that the incident marks the moment when things finally changed for the better. A security breach on such a massive scale and with such huge ramifications may mark the moment when organisations of all sizes finally recognise the need to treat security – both digital and physical – with the seriousness it demands.

It could be that the criminal activity that lead to Sony Pictures pulling a blockbuster movie provides the impetus for organisations for all sizes to ensure that they have a fully coordinated and integrated security strategy in place.

And, for those that worry about their cyber security, my previous comments apply, and I make no excuse for repeating them here. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to devising a security strategy and each organisation will have its own unique considerations. That’s why using an external specialist security services provider can be highly beneficial, as it will be able to carry out a full threat and risk assessment. This can also contribute to an overall cybersecurity strategy by ensuring that surveillance and access technology, as well as manned guarding, are full optimised to protect IT infrastructure.

As I wrote before, cybersecurity is important but it will only work if the rest of the pieces of the security jigsaw are in place.

The figures about criminal gangs just don’t add up

I’m Peter Webster, chief executive of Corps Security, and this is where I examine the issues affecting the security industry. My thoughts and opinions are intended to generate debate and whether you agree or disagree with them, you’re welcome to post your comments below.

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Around a year ago I wrote a blog outlining my concerns about the phased transition to a business-licensing regime that will run alongside a new individual licensing process. My view then was as it is now and I still believe that this will simply mean swapping a scheme that adds value for one that has none whatsoever, and the industry will suffer as a result.

On 30th June 2014, Lord Taylor, set out the Home Office position and said that the government expects the introduction of the statutory licensing of private security businesses to come into force in 2015. The Security Industry Authority (SIA) will continue to regulate the industry and will oversee this transition.

With a number of industry professionals sceptical about the benefits - and many more just not sufficiently engaged in the process, -in order to try and add weight to their argument, the pro-business licensing brigade, including the SIA, has recently claimed that its proposals will help eradicate the number of criminal gangs running security contracts. Having heard this from a number of different sources, it’s a development that I find particularly concerning as it is based on some very dubious statistics and flawed logic.

Putting the numbers in perspective

I was recently informed that a Liverpool-based criminal gang which was running a security contract had been successfully put out of business; meaning that legitimate security companies are now fulfilling contracts worth around £3m. While I welcome the prosecution of any organisation that brings the industry into disrepute, a sense of perspective is required here. According to my estimates, based on available figures, £3m represents just 0.01 per cent of the total security sector.

For argument’s sake, let’s be generous and suggest that the total value of the contracts being carried out by criminal organisations is 10 times bigger than £3m. This would still only work out at 0.1 per cent of the UK’s security contracts and, therefore, it’s a problem that doesn’t really exist. It is my view that this figure is not large enough to warrant or justify the wholesale change of a system that, although not without its faults, continues to serve the industry well.

Added cost and complexity

It is claimed that business licensing and regulation will support those organisations that have been through relevant checks and due diligence, and can demonstrate that they are ‘fit and proper’ to supply security industry services. To qualify for an SIA business licence, a security business must comply with issues surrounding identity, criminality, financial probity, integrity, and conformance with relevant British Standards. This will require a business to ensure a licence application process is carried out for its employees that confirms an employee’s identity, address history, qualifications, and right to work in the UK.

A business licence will last for five years and companies will be required to comply with the conditions of the licence, provide a yearly return evidencing its continued compliance, and pay an annual subscription fee. It is claimed by the SIA that this will give businesses more responsibility for the individuals that they employ, and achieve a reduction in the regulatory cost and burden on the private security industry as a whole. Unfortunately, I believe that these claims are unfounded and, having crunched the numbers, we estimate that business licensing will cost Corps Security around £50,000 a year and, as yet, we have had no indication of the corresponding reduction in the individual licensing costs. Corps Security currently pays around £150,000 a year in licensing fees, so the individual license reduction must be at least 33% in order for us to be cost neutral. For those companies unlike us that don’t currently pay their employees’ SIA licence fees, the costs will come as a huge shock.

The additional bureaucracy, time, inconvenience and uncertainty it will cause will be a cost that we may have to pass on to our customers. Not surprisingly, they will be highly resistant to increased charges for security services, so it could mean that those who demonstrate continual improvement via the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) could decide to withdraw from it to save money.

The limitations of background checks

Going back to the subject of criminal organisations operating in our industry, the idea that business-based regulation will better control the type of companies that can operate in the sector is a smoke screen. As things stand, companies are not allowed to employ unlicensed individuals anyway, so by definition they have to be ‘above board’. The idea is to regulate the ‘controlling minds’ involved in security businesses but I am sure that organised criminals will be capable of avoiding direct association. Indeed, I am simply not convinced that the business checks will be rigorous enough to prevent criminal bodies from falsifying their persona and so cover up any unscrupulous activities. And what about foreign-owned organisations – how will they be checked?

Equally, the current situation allows individuals the freedom to change companies, while providing their new employers with the peace of mind that a new recruit has passed a rigorous set of checks. But who will be responsible if TUPE-transferred staff are found to have been vetted improperly?

Perhaps most importantly, the SIA has been good at making sure that only those who should work in the security sector are permitted to do so. The industry has over 300,000 licensed personnel, but tens of thousands of individuals have been refused licences. For a variety of reasons – from criminal records to unverifiable employment histories – these people have been deemed unfit to be in a public-facing role.

Taking the wrong course – in poor visibility

To address the situation, there is now a ‘Strategic Consultation Group’. This only has 31 members – less than 20% of whom actually run a security company today and 26% are SIA officials – and yet the future of regulation is being discussed through this group, which I find rather concerning.

Have the employers’ groups that are represented within the Group adequately consulted with their members about the impact of these measures?

The truth is they cannot adequately consult with their members because, as far as I can see, there is still a massive lack of clarity about the proposals regarding the true and accurate financial impact and the additional administration burden placed upon companies in the industry.

The new SIA chairman, Elizabeth France, has vowed to be ‘audacious’ and is determined to push regulation as far as possible; which means the SIA will do everything it can within the statute to move in the direction of travel that it thinks the industry and ministers want it to go in, and where it believes is best.

But how does the new SIA chairman know which direction the industry wants to go in? From the ‘Strategic Consultation Group’ alone? We have already established that it is not representative of the real industry. At a recent industry event Elizabeth France said that “a tick box approach to regulation doesn’t help anything,” adding that the SIA “…should be working with you to ensure that between us we take responsibility for raising standards but maybe the balance between us, as the industry becomes more mature and we understand our role as a regulator better, is that more of it is done by the industry… with the regulator helping and supporting.” This provides a clear indication of the intention to increase the administrative and compliance burden on the industry.

Time for action

In my opinion much of the support for the new regime is based on the fear that if we do not agree with what’s being offered, then the government will simply revert back to its previous position of deregulation. What we need as an industry are hard facts that can be discussed, but until we get them our industry representatives should not be giving any support to these ‘half-baked’ and poorly communicated proposals.

I believe we have to act in the best interests of all, and make our voices heard about the needless introduction of two layers of licensing.

Counting the cost of the overtime pay ruling

I’m Peter Webster, chief executive of Corps Security, and this is where I examine the issues affecting the security industry. My thoughts and opinions are intended to generate debate and whether you agree or disagree with them, you’re welcome to post your comments below.

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As an employer, the recent ruling on overtime pay by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has been of significant interest and I’ve been pondering the ramifications of this landmark case. Companies will now have to include not only basic salaries but also overtime when calculating holiday pay, however, the implications of this judgement go much further.

The decision was made using two test cases, one of which was brought about by 16 members of the Unite union against Amec and Hertel on behalf of a mix of electricians, scaffolders and semi-skilled operatives, who all worked on a project at the West Burton power station site in Nottinghamshire, until it came to an end in 2012. They claimed that it was unfair that as overtime was stipulated in their contracts, they were not paid for those extra hours when it came to statutory holiday pay.

The EAT said that any payment that is ‘intrinsically linked’ to the performance of a worker’s duties should be included in holiday pay. The government estimates that one-sixth of the 30.8 million people in work get paid overtime, meaning that five million workers could be affected.

I have been fascinated by some of the rhetoric that has since been used, with some employers warning of bankruptcies and job losses. Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors went as far as to describe it as a ‘holiday pay time-bomb’ that would have a hugely detrimental impact on businesses. Certainly, employers which haven’t been including overtime are likely to face claims from workers, and claims handling firms are already gearing up for significant amounts of activity.

The first point that I would like to make concerns the fact that while the UK has an opt-out on European employment regulation, it hasn’t got one on health and safety, which means that as this ruling forms part of the European Working Time Directive, we have no option but to comply. This is another example of European health and safety legislation being used as back-door employment legislation and the lines between the two subjects seem to become more blurred with each piece of case law.

While this is a cause for concern, I am broadly in favour of the ruling and agree with Caspar Glyn, a barrister specialising in employment law, who said, ‘Normal pay is normal pay and that should be paid when you’re on holiday.’

There’s no doubt in my mind that the intention in the ruling is fair and designed to protect those who are being exploited by employers who deliberately pay very low wages – often national minimum wage – but offer high levels of commission in order to reduce their holiday pay costs. The ruling won’t, on the whole, have a negative impact on what I consider to be reasonable employers, who already base holiday pay on average pay. I also believe in walking it like I talk it and in 99 per cent of cases Corps Security uses an employee’s average pay over the previous 12 weeks to work out what he or she should receive while on holiday.

Regular readers of my blogs will know my opinions about zero hours contracts and while they have received a high degree of bad press, they continue to be used. I won’t revisit the arguments for and against them again, but for those on this kind of employment contract, the only real way to calculate a fair holiday pay amount is to take average earnings. Therefore those on zero hours contracts should have always benefited from the holiday pay calculation that this ETA’s ruling ensures for those on fixed hour contracts.

Things are never quite as straightforward as they first appear though and the ruling could mean that other bonuses and allowances must also be included, which is an area where I remain much more circumspect. To illustrate my point, let’s use then example of a city banker who receives a £300,000 annual bonus – given that their holiday equates to 10.7 per cent of their working year, is it reasonable that they should get an extra £32,100? I don’t think so.

The EAT’s decision is not the end of the story though, as the government is likely to contest it at the Court of Appeal and until that happens – possibly many years from now – employers face more uncertainty. My own view is that the decision should not be appealed and the government ought to simply amend the existing regulations to ensure that those doing overtime have this recognised in their holiday pay. At the same time, to avoid any possibility of spurious claims being made that abuse the regulation, any amendments should stipulate that bonuses over a certain amount are excluded.

As is usually the case when it comes to these types of complex legal decisions, there are perhaps more questions than answers. Ultimately, I think that the ruling should be considered a good thing although, as is so often the case, the devil really is in the detail.

A victory for common sense

I’m Peter Webster, chief executive of Corps Security, and this is where I examine the issues affecting the security industry. My thoughts and opinions are intended to generate debate and whether you agree or disagree with them, you’re welcome to post your comments below.

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Following a tumultuous few months, the question about whether Scotland should become an independent country has been answered and I’m delighted that common sense has prevailed. The arguments made from either side were generally thought provoking, engaging and divisive, usually in equal measure, but ultimately the view that Scotland is stronger, safer and more secure as part of the UK has been recognised by the country’s electorate.

I applaud this rational and pragmatic decision, and hope that now the issue has been ‘put to bed’, we can move forward as a truly united nation.

I addressed many of my concerns about what independence would have meant for Scotland in a previous blog and since writing it the Yes Scotland campaign did little to allay my fears, with an argument that appeared to be based more on emotion than hard headed economics. In fact, on a number of key issues it consistently failed to offer any real answers or alternatives to the status quo.

Obviously, questions still remain, particularly with regard to the promises made about further devolved powers. Details about exactly what these will be was the subject of much speculation on the run up to the vote but it was stated that that the final say on funding for the NHS will be a matter for the Scottish government because of the continuation of the Barnett allocation for resources, and the powers of the Scottish parliament to raise revenues. This has, in turn, created its own controversy, particularly with regard to the impact it will have on England.

When Standard Life confirmed that it would move its operations south if the yes vote won, the economic risks suddenly became very real and as a company with significant business interests and operations north or the border, we shared this concern.

This concern grew on the eve of the vote, when a poll suggested that the gap between the yes and no camps was just two percentage points. Fortunately, the nature of how we operate in Scotland will not change and the long-term future for our extensive manned guarding operations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, our support centre, and the Corps Monitoring Centre (CMC) has been assured.

I’ve been dismayed by the implication that those who voted no are somehow less patriotic that those who voted the opposite way. I think both parties were equally committed to maintaining Scottish identity, culture and values and I hope that this some of the negative rhetoric within families, communities and businesses can be eradicated, and that the Scottish nation comes together as a valued member of the UK.

It has been a truly historic occasion and it is great to see democracy in action in this way. However, as I finish this blog I can only feel an enormous sense of relief about what has transpired.

A clear and present danger

I’m Peter Webster, chief executive of Corps Security, and this is where I examine the issues affecting the security industry. My thoughts and opinions are intended to generate debate and whether you agree or disagree with them, you’re welcome to post your comments below.

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Last Friday the home secretary Theresa May announced that the UK’s terror threat level has been raised from “substantial” to “severe” in response to conflicts in Iraq and Syria. The new alert level rates the risk of an attack on the UK “highly likely”, although the home secretary said there was no evidence to suggest one was “imminent”.

Severe is the second highest of five possible UK threat levels that indicates the likelihood of a terrorist attack in the UK. The 5 levels of threat are:

low – an attack is unlikely

moderate – an attack is possible but not likely

substantial – an attack is a strong possibility

severe – an attack is highly likely

critical – an attack is expected imminently

The prime minister has said he was concerned that Britons who have travelled to fight with the Islamic State (IS) would be prepared to carry out an attack on UK soil upon their return. However we should also realise that the threat is not only from those that have travelled to the conflict areas but also the sympathisers and supporters who have stayed in the UK.

Terrorist activity, combined with the events in Ukraine, Gaza and Israel, Syria and Iraq, means the world certainly feels less safe than it has done for many years. At a time when we are commemorating the First World War centenary, it is clear that the ‘war to end all wars’, where an estimated 16 million people lost their lives, was not enough to deter future generations from engaging in conflict.

The nature of war has evolved so that it is as much about terrorising innocent civilians as it is about soldiers fighting each other on the field of battle. No more is this evident than in the escalating threat posed by the Islamic State (IS), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The shocking video that appeared online recently of the American journalist, James Foley, being beheaded by what appears to be a militant with a British accent, along with the events of 7/7 and the brutal killing of Lee Rigby in London, means that the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism are closer to home than some of us care to imagine.

The problem of homegrown extremism is very real and a growing phenomenon. Although the UK Foreign Office has stated that around 400 individuals have left our shores to fight in Syria since the uprising began, Khalid Mahmood MP recently stated that he believes that this figure is much higher and that over 1,500 young British Muslims have gone to wage jihad since 2011. To put this number into perspective, it means that more than twice as many British Muslims have travelled to Syria to fight for extremists, including IS, than are currently serving in the British Armed Forces.

Just as worryingly, some of them are already returning to the UK, desensitised to extreme violence and still fighting for a radical Islamic ideal. Prime minister, David Cameron, has already recognised this and, in reference to IS, recently said, ‘If we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement, it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain.’

Clearly the need for vigilant and professional security is greater than ever and I believe that the government needs to drastically increase its investment in counter terrorism resources, both in the public and private sectors. Meanwhile, it is incumbent upon us all to recognise the threat, take it seriously and do everything possible to minimise the danger to people, property and assets.

I fully appreciate that this is easier said than done and countering such an insidious and covert threat is difficult. However, it seriously concerns me that so many security professionals are unaware of the potential impact of such threats on the organisations that they are charged with protecting.

I’ve found that there is sometimes an unwillingness to look at the ‘bigger picture’ in terms of identifying the reasons that a particular organisation could be a target, where a threat might originate from and what to do about it. It won’t surprise you that those originating from the USA or UK are more likely to be targeted by Islamic extremists such as IS than those in some other parts of the world and while I recognise that this might be an uncomfortable truth, there is little sense in ignoring it. The bottom line is that organisations with security management teams that possess a comprehensive understanding of global and regional threats will undoubtedly be better protected.

When carrying out a risk and threat assessment it is also vital to avoid the ‘silo mentality’ and adopt an inclusive policy of shared thinking, planning and action. By adopting the concept of convergence of security risk, every department – security, IT, finance, facilities management and those responsible for health and safety and reputational risk management – can collaborate in a way that allows knowledge and information to be better understood and acted upon.

We are living in troubled times and it is therefore imperative that organisations fully understand the dangers posed by potential adversaries, understand their motives and implement a more effective risk and threat based approach that utilises both technology and manpower. This will require some organisations to re-examine their existing security strategies but it is only by doing so that they will be in the best possible position to address this clear and present danger.

A measure of accountability

I’m Peter Webster, chief executive of Corps Security, and this is where I examine the issues affecting the security industry. My thoughts and opinions are intended to generate debate and whether you agree or disagree with them, you’re welcome to post your comments below.

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When I joined Corps Security back in 2010, one of the things that immediately struck me was the lack of independently collated, audited and analysed indices pertaining to the security industry. It strikes me that if an industry wants to be taken seriously and not become commoditised, it needs to provide its customer base with a set of benchmarks with which its effectiveness can be measured.

I believe that truthful and accurate data can help improve performance, perception and professionalism.

Unlike other industries – for example, retail – we have no clear indication of the state of the industry and any relevant trends. While this is unhelpful to service providers, it is even more of an issue for end-users who may be reviewing the options open to them within the manned guarding market. A set of independently qualified statistics would help to give them an idea of industry performance standards, so that more informed procurement decisions could be made.

To gather the data needed for such sector-wide indices, it requires the whole industry to be ‘grown up’ and submit truthful information in the absolute knowledge that it will remain anonymous and only published as part of a consolidated report. This is a tough ask but one that is needed if we are to be taken seriously as an industry.

The Security Industry Authority’s (SIA) Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) score, which independently demonstrates approved contractors’ performance against the required standards each year, could also be used as a benchmark data source. At present, I am not aware of any published summary report which analyses the consolidated data from ACS audits that could be used as important evidence of the industry’s professionalism and high service levels. I am not even aware what percentage of the industry or its employees are represented by ACS companies.

Basic information on industry employment trends can also be gained from the SIA.  I believe (anecdotally) that each year the SIA issues new licenses that equate to around 20% of the total licenses in circulation, although the total number of licences in use remains roughly the same – therefore indicating that 20% of licence holders choose to leave the industry each year.  However, if true, it brings to the fore the question of how to retain staff and make the industry a more attractive place to build a long-term career

These are the problems, so why is nothing being done about them? That’s something that I would like to hear your views about because I’ve yet to hear a good reason for not publishing industry statistics and indices.

At Corps Security, as part of our Customer Charter, to ensure that our service level agreements (SLAs) are met, we have developed a system to define a series of key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide a comprehensive set of quantitative and qualitative data. This helps drive service improvement and the data is formatted and presented in a manner which reflects a customer’s business and gives them the information that they require. I am sure that most reliable companies do the same but why don’t we consider standardising these KPI’s to make it easier for customers to understand the true comparative performance of their security suppliers??

My opinions on this subject have been formed through my own experiences as former chairman of the Cleaning & Support Services Association (CSSA) and President of the Textile Services Association (TSA). During my tenures with these industry trade bodies, I helped introduce a measurement system of cost indices that included all of the published (and therefore evidenced in the public domain) cost factors associated with running a business in that industry. Every year a report would indicate how much industry operating costs had risen, so when we asked customers for a price increase we could use clear, meaningful and independently benchmarked figures to back up our case. This helped to maintain margins and facilitated continued investment into service improvement, as well as the development of skilled and trained personnel.

This leads me on to my final point. Regular readers of my blogs will know that I see the need to increase the professionalism of the security industry as one of the biggest challenges we face. There is no doubt that the events surrounding the London Olympics in 2012 and some other subsequent highly publicised cases have damaged the fragile respect that the industry had gained. Independent performance-based statistics would go a long way in demonstrating to both existing and potential customers that, in the vast majority of cases, contracts are fulfilled and customers are satisfied with their manned guarding services. It would help give credibility to what we do, as an industry, assisting to restore confidence in our competency.

Breaking up is hard to do

I’m Peter Webster, chief executive of Corps Security, and this is where I examine the issues affecting the security industry. My thoughts and opinions are intended to generate debate and whether you agree or disagree with them, you’re welcome to post your comments below.screen-shot-2012-12-06-at-19-04-57 2

The issues surrounding whether Scotland should leave the UK are never far from the news headlines at the moment and will continue to be so until the referendum takes place on 18th September. On that date the question – Should Scotland be an independent country? – will finally be answered.

As I write this the yes vote stands at 34 per cent, a fall of five percentage points since the last opinion poll a month ago. There’s plenty of time left though and it is estimated that around 20 per cent of voters are still undecided on the issue. Chances are they are the ones who are struggling not to let their hearts rule their heads.

There is certainly no room for complacency on this subject and as a company with significant business interests and operations north of the border, we are having to prepare for the possibility that if the yes vote wins out, the nature of how we operate will change immeasurably. For instance, we have extensive manned guarding operations in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, our Operations Support Centre is also based in Glasgow, as is the Corps Monitoring Centre (CMC).

The Corps Security senior management team has already spent some considerable time talking various scenarios through and given the lack of detail from the Scottish National Party (SNP) about exactly what would happen should it win the vote, this hasn’t been easy. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that for companies like us who are trying to be proactive and consider all possible eventualities, being able to make hard and fast plans is proving nigh on impossible.

Take, for example, the issue of currency. The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, in a rare show of unity, have all stated that should Scotland leave the UK it will not be able to use the pound. The SNP considers this a bluff and has refused to even consider a Plan B, let alone state what it would involve. Some might call this a principled stance, although I find it difficult to believe that the SNP would know what to do if the government sticks to its guns. That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that the party’s leader, Alex Salmond, might be right, and there would be a deal for currency union. However, I wouldn’t bet my last pound on it!

While the money issue wouldn’t prove an insurmountable problem for us, I think small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will find this a difficult issue. My own anecdotal evidence from within the business community suggests that most commercial organisations in the entire UK view Scottish devolution in a negative light. This is borne out by research carried out by the business network, “Ingenious Britain”, which has discovered that almost half of small business owners in Scotland think independence would be bad for their company.

If, however, the yes campaign does succeed, there’s the problem of what to do with all the public sector contracts in Scotland that were previously procured and awarded from Whitehall and other government offices in England. Would they all be retendered via the Scottish parliament’s equivalent departments? If so, imagine the hoops that some suppliers would have to jump through!

Another potentially more difficult issue would be if an independent Scotland decided to join the Schengen Area, which comprises 26 European countries that have abolished passport or any other type of border control in between their common borders. It could mean that border controls would need to be set up – Hadrian’s Wall could even be reinstated! Although Scotland stands to lose more from this action than the rest of UK would, stranger things have happened.

It’s not just the business world that is concerned about Scottish independence. Professors from all five of Scotland’s medical schools have written an open letter expressing serious concerns about the impact upon medical research funding. Education would also be affected, with the SNP proposing to make students from the rest of the UK pay tuition fees if studying in Scotland, while allowing free access for students from the rest of the European Union (EU).

Drilling down into the security sector, it would open up an array of practical problems. Take Security Industry Authority (SIA) licensing, for example. Would it operate in the same way? Would those working in both Scotland and the rest of the UK need two licences. Would the background checking and verification processes be the same? How would it affect insurance policies and premiums? This list of questions just gets bigger the more you think about it.

From a pragmatic point of view the implications of Scottish devolution are immense and while I understand the emotional reasons for wanting independence, from the perspectives of businesses on both sides of the border it makes little sense. Until 19th September, when the votes are in and we all know one way or the other what Scotland’s future holds, Corps Security will continue to plan for every conceivable eventuality. I would recommend that any other organisations with interests in Scotland do the same, however difficult it may be.