Sad News

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. Image The news that a fellow security guard has died after being attacked outside a court in central London was met with great sadness at our offices. Lorraine Barwell, a prisoner custody officer with Serco, was assaulted on Monday as she escorted a prisoner between Blackfriars Crown Court and a prison van.  It is understood that she and other members of her team were preparing to escort the prisoner to a van parked inside the court’s courtyard when she was assaulted.

According to BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw, Ms Barwell is believed to be the first prisoner custody officer to have died in the line of duty. It is sadly true that the major contribution that our industry colleagues make to keeping people and property safe is not properly recognised.  The commitment of private security officers to the job often puts them at the risk of threats and physical assault during the course of their work and, today, our thoughts and condolences are very much with the family, friends and colleagues of Ms. Barwell.

(UPDATED 03/07/15 20:10)

In response to my post above, I received the following from Gary Broad, Major Accounts Director at Corps Security, and I would like to include it in full here.

This week’s terrible news that a serving security officer has died in the line of duty has shocked us all; providing a timely reminder of the vulnerability of each and every person involved within the wider contract-security family.

Unfortunately, it is only following such an extremely sad incident that we feel able to extend the genuine concern that each of us feels for our own employees. To those who also serve – but in uniforms of a different hue, and behind a badge of different design.    

As an industry, we must be united in our condemnation of such despicable behaviour from those who we seek to protect the honest and decent citizens of this country from; especially as we move through such uncertain times, when the likelihood of further violent actions present challenges to us all.

Lorraine Barwell, a Prisoner Escort and Custody Services Officer employed by Serco, was assaulted on Monday as she and her colleagues accompanied a prisoner between Blackfriars Crown Court and a secure vehicle. It is understood that she and other members of her team were providing safe passage for the prisoner when she was assaulted.

According to BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw, Ms Barwell is believed to be the first prisoner Custody Officer to have died in the line of duty.

For those of us who eat, sleep and breathe security on a day-to-day basis, the sad news of such a terrible loss can sometimes, unfortunately be tinged with a feeling of inevitability; knowing that despite all of our best efforts to mitigate such terrible occurrences and protect our colleagues to the full, the potential for violent attack always lurks just under the surface for many, if not most, of our front-line personnel.

How little do those that we strive to protect on a daily basis understand about the risks our colleagues take on their behalf? And how little do they appreciate how much “simply being of service” means to the vast majority of contract-security personnel (be they involved in guarding, cash-collection, prisoner escort or any other protective service?)

I’m sure that others within our industry share the uncomfortable feeling that I get when hearing our colleagues referred to in negative terms, by people who have neither the aptitude, ability, nor courage to undertake the tasks that our staff complete each and every day – and who probably wouldn’t get out of bed for a salary double that available to our people. 

As Peter says above, it is a sad truism that the huge contribution made by our industry colleagues to keeping people and property safe is not recognised as it should be. With the increased potential for terrorist activity and civil unrest rising daily, it is about time that the hardworking, conscientious and yes – brave – security personnel of the UK are recognised for the jobs that they do so well, often at the vanguard of our country’s fight against anti-social behaviour, crime and terrorism.  

The commitment of security personnel (in all sectors) to their job often puts them at the risk of threats and physical assault during the course of their work and, today, our thoughts and condolences are very much with the family, friends and colleagues of Ms. Barwell, a brave and obviously dedicated representative of all things that are right, an Officer who was described as being “a consummate professional, really good at her job and very much respected” by her Manager.

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