How to Deal with the Auditors

A question I am asked when I deliver training to security officers, particularly those already working in the industry is how we should deal with the increasing problem of ‘auditors’. For those not familiar with these, ‘auditors’ despite their official sounding name are nothing of the sort.

They are in fact a couple of self-styled vigilantes who have charged themselves with ensuring that the private security industry doesn’t overstep its legal power and infringe on the rights of citizens of the United Kingdom.

In truth what they do is show up at locations where there is a private security presence, break out body cameras, phone cameras and even a drone mounted camera and try to goad the security into over-reacting. If they manage to get an officer to react to their antics, they then plaster the unsuspecting security operator all over social media, after first editing the footage to make sure the operator looks a bad as possible.

As someone involved with training security staff, including delivering top-up courses, one of the most troubling things I notice with many working in our industry is how the understanding of the law is so poor. It is this lack of understanding that the ‘auditors’ exploit. They are careful to walk only on publicly accessible pathways and rarely if ever step onto private property. They fly their drones over private property and film, first announcing to the security that this is their intention. Unbelievably, this is permitted in law (unless it is a military establishment or airport).

The well-meaning security officer then approaches the auditors and asks them to leave, stop filming, and move away from the area. They refuse, then get to work, trying to get a rise out of the officer. They are usually very careful to stay on publicly accessible land, and in the eyes of the law, they have every right to film. Therefore, the security officer has no power to prevent them. They use this to frustrate the officer and hopefully (as they would see it) incite the officer to lose their cool.

So, what do the ‘auditors’ gain from this exchange? In a word, confrontation. They want to push the officer into overreacting. This makes for great footage for their social media platforms. Its click bait, clear and simple. The higher the level of confrontation, the greater the response, and the more views they will get.

So, what can we to do? First and foremost, understand the law. Your assignment instructions should give clear guidelines as to what is public and what is private land. If they are on public land, there is nothing you can do. So do nothing. They want you to engage, they want you to try to move them on. Do not approach them, just observe. When this fails to give them what they want they will likely approach you and try to push your buttons. This usually begins with questions on what exactly the site is for and what function it serves. Kill them with kindness, politely, even overly politely, refer them to the company website (give them the full website address and customer service number) ‘where you can find all the information you could possible need or want’.

They will then fall back to ‘we are going to film you now’ Remember there is no law forbidding this. Make a joke of it; ‘mate, can I go and sort my hair out first?’ or ‘can you film me from my left side, its my best angle?’ Finally, they will retreat to their ace card, ‘I’m going to fly my drone and film on your private property’. Remember, this is permitted by law. Your response, ‘Ok mate, not a problem’ or if you want to totally go gold on them try, ‘fantastic, could you film over the office roof? There has been a leak and you maybe able to find it for us’.

In short, the ‘auditors’ are a growing number of what are essentially pests to the security industry, relying on confrontation as oxygen. If you fail to give them what they want, you starve them of what they need. They will quickly move on to a site where the security officers are less familiar with the law.

Feedback to my points here would be very welcome. 

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