BP entered into initial discussions with VSG three years ago to enhance security at its forecourt retail outlets and provide the best possible protection for staff working in these outlets. VSG is one of the UK's fastest growing providers of security services. Since then the relationship between the companies has developed into a close working partnership which has resulted in VSG providing efficient and cost-effective security for BP forecourts across the country.
According to Gary Worrow, Retail HSSE Advisor for BP: “The results of VSG's work to date for BP have been pleasing, with costs well controlled and security, especially in the key area of staff protection, significantly enhanced. We are very happy with VSG's performance, in particular the company's fresh thinking, and the strategic tactical approach that underpins the benefits that VSG's services offer.”
Having received an initial brief from BP to provide recommendations for security enhancements, VSG looked at exiting arrangements on the retail forecourts, a significant part of BP's business. One important conclusion from this review was that the security officer resource could be more efficiently deployed.
As a result of this, and in spite of being a company that derives much of its income from providing manned guarding services, VSG provided BP with impartial advice about where guarding was most appropriate, and where available budget might be better and more effectively spent on other measures including staff training.
After further detailed analysis of BP's requirements, VSG proposed the introduction of a three-tier profit protection scheme. This would include an element of manned guarding, complemented by the appointment of two regional profit protection managers. It also included a national profit protection manager who would, in addition to managing the whole team, actively seek out opportunities for VSG to enhance protection against a wide range of threats.
This profit protection scheme is now in place. As part of its implementation, the appropriate regional profit protection manager works in partnership with BP to carry out criminal risk assessments and to look at every aspect of security at each individual store. On the basis of this work, the manager produces recommendations that are discussed and agreed with BP, before being jointly implemented.
One major recommendation was for more staff training. As a result, VSG has now worked successfully with the BP training department to deliver highly focused courses to more than 700 BP staff. Topics covered by these courses include how to recognize when a theft has occurred or is occurring; how to deal with shoplifters and the correct techniques to use for handling and defusing confrontational situations.
The assessments carried out at each store also take into account factors such as local crime statistics, which are an invaluable aid to implementing coherent integrated security. Other factors include historic stock-take results to provide justification for the adoption of electronic profit protection measures, such as the tagging of high value items.
These routine procedures are complemented by weekly analysis of crime on BP sites, to enable security provisions to be focused on the key areas where they will be most effective. Assessments are carried out on a site-by-site basis and, where appropriate, tactical measures are developed and implemented for individual sites. These measures might involve upgrading the lighting or video surveillance installations. In these cases, as in all others that involve surveillance, VSG works closely with AGE, BP's established supplier of video surveillance solutions.
VSG is also looking to introduce a trial of its remote monitoring in conjunction with audio warn-off and BP is evaluating the proposal. This is intended to be used not only as a direct security measure, but also as an effective form of lone-worker assistance. If a violent incident takes place, staff can press an alert button, which brings a rapid response.
In such cases, the first action is for the VSG remote monitoring team to issue an audible warning over the public address system of the site where the incident is taking place. This advises the miscreants that their actions are being watched and recorded, and that the police have been called. In many instances the warning alone is leads to the immediate cessation of the crime and the flight of the perpetrators.
Even when there are no untoward events apparently in progress, the audio channel can be used to speak to remote workers to ensure that all is well, and to provide reassurance that, if they need assistance, it will be provided rapidly and effectively.
VSG has invested a substantial amount of time in developing mutually beneficial relationships between the stores and their local police forces. One direct and effective result of these relationships is the introduction of banning orders.
Through a process that has been developed jointly by VSG and BP, the police are encouraged to issue prolific or major offenders with banning orders that prohibit them from entering BP sites. When following up major incidents, such as robberies, VSG and BP now routinely request banning orders for the perpetrators of the crime. They are also being used effectively to deter known shoplifters.
Incident investigation is another important measure. VSG investigates all significant security-related incidents on behalf of BP, providing a consistent and coherent approach, and liaising with the police through to the final conclusion. The objectives are clear — to reaffirm that BP will never tolerate any violence toward its staff, and that those who attempt to use violence with be pursued vigorously through the courts. VSG's input has proved invaluable in this context.