Re-thinking and Re-imaging Security Guard Services in Saint Lucia
In a recent news broadcast Castries North MP Stephenson King reiterated what is common knowledge to all who are served by the sector: security guard services are not up to proper standards and there is a strong need for proper training and certification. He stopped short of suggesting that government should impose legislation and controls and I suspect that he was hinting to the professionals in the industry that it was time to clean up their act.
The public perception of the role of security guards may be at the heart of the misconceptions about the sector, not to mention the notoriously low hourly pay scale. In most cases about four dollars and seventy five cents per hour only augmented by twelve hour shifts and overtime/holiday pay.
Security guards, gatekeepers, and other loss prevention professionals are called upon to enforce various laws as part of an overall corporate risk management policy but before attempting to enforce or invoke the provision of any law, each prospective security professional must be educated as to the laws of our country, town and village council and municipalities in general. It is necessary to form an overview of these laws and their interrelations and hierarchy.
Only after gaining such an overview can a person expect to come to understand each professional’s role, authority and responsibilities. No one can legally enforce any law if they are not duly authorized to do so. Likewise, a security professional cannot abdicate his or her responsibilities in situations where they are morally, ethically or legally obligated or required to act.
For today’s security personnel, being clear on these issues is not just nice to know; it is our moral, ethical and legal responsibility. In light of the foregoing, one could ask why training for security guards is not on the curriculum of the National Skills Development Centre. As it turns out, the NSDC, which promotes CARICOM standards for Caribbean Vocational Qualifications, is in the process of launching a multistage Industrial Security Operation programme which will fill some of the void that exists in the field of professional security training in Saint Lucia. Caveat, the target group for training is unemployed youth from Dennery going south to Vieux Fort and the numbers are severely restricted. Why the almost non-existent publicity? Well . . .
What more needs to be done to get security guard services up to proper standards in Saint Lucia?