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ONS review points towards male security officers having highest COVID-19 death rates

13 May 2020

THE LATEST figures issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) focusing on a provisional analysis of COVID-19 related deaths by occupation in England and Wales for the period up to and including 20 April suggest that males working as security officers have one of the highest death rates, with 45.7 deaths per 100,000 (63 deaths in total).

According to ONS researchers Dr Ben Windsor-Shellard and Jasveer Kau, a total of 2,494 deaths involving the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the working age population of England and Wales (ie those aged between 20 and 64 years) were registered up to and including 20 April. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths were among men (with a total of 1,612 deaths). The rate of death involving COVID-19 is shown to be statistically higher in males (with 9.9 deaths per 100,000 compared to 5.2 deaths per 100,000 in the female population).

The major group with the highest rate of death involving COVID-19 was found to be elementary workers (among them construction workers and cleaners). Elementary security operations fall into this group and exhibit the highest death rate of all, with 43.2 deaths per 100,000 males. That's equivalent to 70 deaths in the period under examination.

Among the specific occupations included in this group, security officers and related occupations had the highest death rate with 45.7 deaths per 100,000 males.

The major group with the next highest rate was found to be employees in the care, leisure and other service occupations. This encompasses workers such as nursing assistants, dedicated care staff and ambulance crew.

The ONS analysis has factored-in age, but doesn't take account of people's ethnicity, location, wealth or underlying health conditions. As a result, it cannot prove the deaths were caused either by the jobs people do or by other factors.

Plea from security companies

This news follows on from an open letter produced by eleven private sector security companies that pleads with the Government for additional support as well as answers to several pressing questions raised by the Coronavirus pandemic.

GMB, the Trade Union that represents security personnel, has described the ONS figures on COVID-19 related deaths as “horrifying”.

John Phillips, acting GMB general secretary, observed: “These figures are horrifying, and bear in mind that they were drawn up before the Government's latest announcement in relation to COVID-19. The fact is that, if you are low paid and working through the COVID-19 crisis, you are more likely to die. That’s how stark these figures really are. Ministers must pause any return to work until proper guidelines, advice and enforcement are in place to keep people safe.”

What has been a major cause of anger and concern among many practitioners operating in the private security business sector is the fact that front line security personnel are referenced in the ONS document within the “low-skilled workers” category.