Frequent Q & A’s
Daily we are approached by a variety of different groups or individuals that enquire about our business and the Security Risk Assessment. The following is a summary of the most frequently asked questions and their relevant responses:
Alwinco is a specialised crime prevention organisation that focuses on providing the knowledge and the means to make our clients’ properties more resistant to crime. This is made possible through advice concerning suitable security measures and practical crime preparedness tactics to our vast array of clientele. All recommendations made are based purely on the outcome of the investigation and is thoroughly researched prior to the formulation of the individualistic Security Plan.
Unlike any other company in South Africa and even the African continent, Alwinco provides a completely independent Security Risk Assessment. Due to the fact that the Security Risk Assessment is often referred to by a variety of different terms; such as a Threat Analysis, Security Audit, Risk Analysis and Security Inspection, to name but a few; the concept and the benefits of this valuable tool is not always understood and consequently misjudged or simply overlooked.
Additionally, Alwinco now offers training in both the conduction of the assessment and in Security Awareness, Project Management to assist with the rollout of the Security Plan and Profile Investigation, if so required. Please note that these services are another function all together and therefore do not constitute as part of the original assessment as provided by Alwinco.
Any property will benefit greatly from the unique service of Alwinco; from a traditional home, a residential complex or estate, right through to schools, university campuses, corporate entities, warehouses, governmental institutes, factories and retail parks; amongst many others.
In the corporate and businesses arena, many departments within the firm will be aided by the Security Risk Assessment including Security, Health & Safety and Emergency & Disaster Planning & Management.
Is it better to get a risk assessment done by an independent party or can the same company you retain to install your security do it? What are the pros and cons of an independent versus the installer/integrator?
To get a Security Risk Assessment done by the same company you retain is like asking your mom if you are fat. She will not tell you the truth because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.
Whilst a little white lie about your weight might not have severe repercussions, not knowing the truth about your security certainly has severe and sometimes deadly repercussions.
A Security Company cannot perform an impartial Security Risk Assessment, as their assessment is weighted towards the promotion and sale of their own products and services, as well as the management of their current and/or future contract, in the protection of themselves and their own risk exposure.
The most important aspect that you should always keep in mind is that an Independent Security Risk Assessor is never part of the solution.
- A Security Risk Assessor that makes use of the Matrix system to identify the ‘level’ of risk should be reconsidered as no risk can ever be measured by a Matrix system. The Matrix system is derived from the Health & Safety assessment and is not applicable to Security Risk. There is no ‘standard’ formula right across the board to guide the Assessor to correctly identify a ‘high risk’ or a ‘low risk’.
- In South Africa, security is measured against OPPORTUNITY whilst the rest of the world measures security against probability. The reason for this is that the rest of the world does not have the same security-related concerns and problems as South Africa.
- It is important that the Security Risk Assessor further addresses the aspect of Public Violence in the assessment. The assessment should include protocols, preparations and planning processes for acts of Public Violence.
The Security Risk Assessment is an intricate and extensive process that consists of 3 main phases. The first phase constitutes of the actual investigation of the property in a multitude of levels from the outside in. Physical aspects such as the location of the site, the actual construction of the buildings and the existing security hardware and procedures are thoroughly examined and audited, as well as a myriad of non-physical attributes that are not always factored in by other assessors.
Once all this data is analysed and cross-referenced, the 2nd phase of active research kicks in to ensure that our clients receive the best advice possible. Although our research is continuous throughout, more focus on specific, unique requirements are addressed and if necessary, a 3rd party expert such as supplier, manufacturer or installer will be consulted without any additional cost to our client.
The 3rd and last phase consists of the compilation of the full Security Risk Assessment report detailing all risks and vulnerabilities within your security status in a concise and easy to understand manner as revealed by the initial investigation phase. Various solutions are then provided within the individualistic Security Plan so that our clients have the necessary knowledge to proceed in good decision making in regards to the enhancement and upgrade of their security, both in the present and into the future. The Security Risk Assessment provides you with full control of your security.
Please note that this is a lengthy process. There are no accurate checklists available to determine risk or rate it and security cannot be guesswork to be successful.
Although the individual in the important position of the Security Manager of a company is highly qualified and often experienced, the assistance and insight that the independent Security Consultant can provide is regularly underestimated. The Security Risk Assessor is not there to affect or undermine the position of the Security Manager but rather should be viewed as an ally; that can provide professional advice that will assist the Security Manager and ultimately the entire company.
It has been noted that the Security Manager is often not successful in presenting a problem to the management to acquire the necessary funds and backing to alleviate the problem. The independent assessor has the upper hand here as management are more likely to understand the situation when presented by an external source in a professional manner. The Security Risk Assessment provides the means in which to accurately define and measure security so that the value thereof can be understood and accurately conveyed to the company board members. This in turn allows for better budget planning regarding security and spending can be stabilised whilst minimising unnecessary cost due to loss or inadequate security measures or security products being purchased.
Furthermore, the independent advisor can be 100% honest and unbiased in the conclusion of his / her findings. Internal Security Managers do not always want to expose the full status of the security of the company to management as they feel they may offend or unintentionally place their job on the line when doing so. The same can be said about an external company who may be afraid that there contract will be terminated if the full extent of loss or issues within the company’s security is revealed.
Another factor that deserves consideration is that the Security Manager may be too close to home and may inadvertently overlook a problem or the root cause thereof within the company. The Security Threat Advisor can provide a new, fresh perspective regarding security within the company to the Security Manager who can then successfully pass this knowledge on to the board and the decision makers.
A Security Risk Assessment is a systematic inspection of your work, tasks, activities or premises, in order to identify potential weak points & evaluates the risks they present and implement & preventative or protective measures.
Security is, in fact, the shared responsibility of each and every one of us, not only of the Security Manager or the Security Officer at the boom or building entrance. In the workplace especially, it is very important that all employees; whether it’s the cleaning lady, the receptionist or the MD or CEO himself / herself; realise this and adapt their attitude and view in regards to security accordingly. This is when Security Awareness needs to be addressed and come into play as this will allow for the company’s security status to become all the more stronger as it is more likely that a criminal will be apprehended and stopped before the crime even occurs.
Unfortunately security is chalked up as mere expenditure and when costs within the budget are reviewed and cutbacks are made, security is usually one of the first to go. Only once it is too late and an incident has occurred, is the true value of security actually deliberated on and realised. A common South African mindset is “That will never happen to me” or “Something like that can’t happen here”. Moreover security and crime is not a pleasant topic and is subsequently avoided. Why place yourself, your family or employees in the unpleasant position of experiencing such a traumatic event before security and safety are truly considered? The whole concept behind the Security Risk Assessment is to enable our clients to proactively prevent a crime from occurring by removing the opportunities within their security for a crime to occur.
False. In over 18 years, we have not come across one company or entity in possession of a valid and proper Security Risk Assessment. Many mistake their Health & Safety report for a full Risk Assessment. These are two opposing principles that are often in direct conflict of each other. Health & Safety is also commonly brought to the fore as it governed by law and legislations whereas security is not.
Even if that were true and you were in possession of an actual Security Risk Assessment report, it is important to remember that security is not a once-off solution by any means. Your security and the assessment needs to be periodically reviewed and adapted where necessary to ensure that your security does not fall behind and consequently become outdated. It is also vital to determine if the Security Plan was effectively followed and whether all problematic areas or situations as revealed by the initial assessment were properly handled and remedied. Remember criminals are not necessarily unintelligent and adapt and grow as required by the latest security market releases and the rapid growth of technology. Some criminal groups are so sophisticated and organised that they have turned crime into a booming and lucrative business by turning themselves into fully functioning large criminal corporations. It is therefore inevitable that to be successful in crime prevention that you always stay one step ahead of the foe.
Definitely. The Security Risk Assessment report will clearly identify and explain all potential opportunities, weaknesses and threats within you security. You are provided with a detailed Security Plan specifically tailored to suit your property’s unique security needs which in turn forms a good, strong foundation for you to base all current and future security upgrades or integrations on. There will be no more wasted expenditure on costly equipment or security products that prove futile against criminal attack as your Security Plan will be focused on optimal functionality and protection. This also creates stability in regards to spending over time.
Although many wrongly see security as mere expenditure, the true value is only realised when great financial loss occurs once a crime has been committed, such as theft or damage of workstations, vehicles or other specialised equipment that the company may make use of.
It is also important to bear in mind that some problems in your security can be remedied without costing a cent. For example a slight change in attitude or routine is maybe all that is required to alleviate a certain problematic situation.
This is a good question and one that we encounter on a fairly regular basis. This has furthermore sparked many an interesting and lengthy discussion with a variety of different types of individuals, both within the corporate sphere and as a family man / woman.
Years of research have indicated that most property owners, either before or after a crime, are simply not aware of the best means in which to protect their properties and do not possess the relevant knowledge to make good decisions regarding their security. Too many have spent thousands upon thousands of rands on pricey equipment and installations only to find they have been hit again and these measures are ineffective and inadequate.
A part of this is due to the fact that other Security Companies offer an assessment of sorts for free or at a minimal fee to their clients. This is not a full Security Risk Assessment but merely a Product Assessment, meaning that not all risks are fully revealed to the client due to the fact that a product within in the limited inventory of the salesman will not be able to solve all the problems present. The goal of such an assessor is ultimately to make the end-user purchase or sign into a contract for specific security services, as this is where he / she makes his / her income and lines his / her pockets at the end of the day. This also results in the bigger picture being overlooked as the solutions regarding the security of the client are predetermined and this is usually done in regards to what the salesman thinks the client can comfortably afford. Moreover the scope of the client is not fully acknowledged or even taken into due consideration.
The independent Security Risk Assessor ensures that the client remains in total control and has all the necessary information to inform the Security Companies what they want and need rather than simply going along with what the Security Companies think is necessary. As all recommendations supplied by the assessor are generic and based on functionality and what is required within the individualistic Security Plan, the final decision as to what is actually purchased is completely in the hands of the client.
Alwinco’s approach towards crime and consequently security is novel, unmatched and unique. To be able to understand the company’s methodology and distinctive understanding it is necessary to look at the background and the relevant determining factors in place in regards to the company’s founder, André Mundell.
For 21 years, André Mundell worked for the SAPS. He was promoted to Head Investigator and Task Force Manager for 15 of those years. André Mundell has altogether been involved in crime prevention for a grand sum total of almost 30 years in the running.
Being in the aforementioned position with the police force, André was granted the rare opportunity to personally view and analyse hundreds of crime scenes. Additionally he was able to conduct countless interviews with the perpetrators and the victims of these crimes. André used this opportunity to take extensive notes where he analysed similarities and patterns by comparing the characteristics of each case with others. Through this method André was able to deduce that certain factors were present at each scene that contributed to the fact that a crime had occurred there. By reviewing this data, André derived and formulated the art of reverse crime engineering which allowed him to determine the factors in place leading up to a crime before the crime ever took place. By eliminating these opportunities available for the criminal to commit a crime, André realised that he was accurately able to predict a future crime and that crime could then actually be proactively prevented.
André began to formulate and create the concept of the Security Risk Assessment due to all the knowledge he had gained by analysing all the data collected. Upon introducing this new concept through the internet via blogs and forums, André was well received by the public and he then realised that such a service was not only necessary but would provide a valuable tool to all property owners into the future. Security could now be measured and the value thereof could be accurately communicated and determined. Hence Alwinco was born.
One of Alwinco’s successes is to remain steadfastly independent despite many trying to sway us in this regards. It is our very independency which allows us to be able to provide our clients with the truth regarding their actual security status. Our knowledge is forever growing due to tireless and ongoing research into criminal trends, latest releases in the industry and other security related matters. This is to ensure that we are able to provide our clients with the best possible recommendations in regards to their security.
Absolutely. Confidentiality is a major part of our business due to the very nature of our daily dealings and the information gleaned. Nondisclosure agreements are signed prior to the commencement of the assessment and in the event that we need to consult with a 3rd party expert or specialist, we ensure that necessary documentation is in place before revealing any information for advisory purposes. Our staff members are dedicated to ensuring that our clients’ information remains private and confidential and they are periodically tested by polygraph to certify that no such data has ever been divulged.
Although we would very much like to reveal the names of some of the big companies we have worked for, and even the famous individuals we have assisted in the past, this is unfortunately by no means possible whatsoever. Due to our high level of confidentiality we may under no circumstances reveal the sites we have assessed, even for self marketing. The fact that we deal with risk, and are aware of our clients’ vulnerabilities and weaknesses, demand that no information can be revealed to anyone for whatever purpose.
If you find yourself in such a situation, or you yourself are not quite sure what the Security Risk Assessment entails exactly, do not hesitate to contact us. Alwinco is always willing to assist and can provide a short half hour presentation explaining the concept and anything else you would like to know in this regards. Additionally we chair many security meetings and speak at a variety of different conferences and seminars on request.
Written by Andre Mundell