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DASA reaching out to security sector 20/11/2019

DEFENCE AND Security Accelerator (DASA) will showcase suppliers' success from the ICR competition at the International Security Expo 2019.

Following the 2017 terror attacks in Manchester and London, the DASA and the Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT) initiated the £2 million “Improving Crowd Resilience” competition to seek innovative ideas to reduce the threat from terrorist and malicious use of explosives and weapons in public spaces. The capabilities and systems funded have been designed to be used in crowded places by private sector companies who operate and manage many of our public spaces and transport locations.

DASA is keen to ensure that private sector operators are provided the opportunity to hear more from the successful suppliers and will be hosting a briefing in the Henley Suite on Tuesday 3 December at the International Security Expo.

In particular, DASA is reaching out to influencers in the Front Line Services, Home Office and Government stakeholders as well as managers and decision makers for security of crowded places, in areas such as, rail operators, shopping centres, stadiums, airports, large event organisers, security services to public spaces/venues and leisure attractions.

Do you want to get involved? If you are interested in attending the DASA ICR Briefing you will need to register directly for free to attend the International Security Expo (ISE). Registration for the ISE will close on Monday 2 December. If attendees haven’t pre-registered for the International Security Expo there is a charge of £99 plus VAT on the day to attend.

You will also need to register for the DASA ICR briefing directly via the Eventbrite page and registration will close on Friday 29 November. Note that numbers are limited and if the event is oversubscribed, DASA reserves the right to limit the number of spaces per organisation.

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'Threatening' security boss jailed 21/11/2019

​A SECURITY boss who operated under four different identities has been jailed for more than four years for defrauding vulnerable security operatives who worked for him.

John Gaines, 72, of Leamington Spa, was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court on 14 November. He had been found guilty of 22 counts of fraud at Warwick on 30 September. 21 of his fraud charges attracted a sentence of 4 years and 8 months each, to be served concurrently. He was given a year for the final charge, also to be served concurrently.

Gaines employed Security Industry Authority (SIA) licensed security guards at a number of locations, including construction sites belonging to Heathrow Airport and Tesco. In many cases he either failed to pay his staff in full, or didn’t pay them at all.

Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Potter deplored Gaines’ “systematic exploitation of vulnerable individuals for profit”, and referred to the 21 security operatives “left in hardship” by his dishonesty. Gaines recruited staff who were easy to exploit; recent arrivals from other countries, those with health problems, or those living in homeless hostels.

If staff raised concerns about their treatment, Gaines threatened them with the sack and subjected them to racist abuse. He refused to engage with employment tribunals, or frustrated proceedings by hiding behind assumed identities. The court heard that many of Gaines’ victims, amongst whom were operatives with children, were seriously affected by his failure to pay them. These consequences included losing their homes. 

Gaines was also found guilty of claiming to be “SIA approved”, despite not being a member of the SIA Approved Contractor Scheme. It emerged during the trial that Gaines had previous convictions for dishonesty, including impersonating a police officer.

Nathan Salmon, of the SIA’s Criminal investigation team, said, “The judge in this case referred to Gaines’ exploiting the vulnerable for ‘sordid financial reasons’. Gaines chose to prey on the powerless, using a web of assumed identities to protect his dishonest dealings. Many of his victims had come to the UK in search of a better life, but had their labour and dignity stolen from them by a threatening fraudster. We would like again to thank the 21 individuals who came forward to testify against their tormentor. The SIA is now seeking access to Gaines’ assets under Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings. Although success cannot be guaranteed, our intention would be to recover some of the money that Gaines swindled from his victims, with the aim of returning to them what is rightfully theirs.”

The case was brought to the SIA’s attention following a series of complaints to the police and Action Fraud. These complaints related to companies that were under suspicion of failing to pay security operatives. Analysis had shown that several of the companies in question shared e-mail addresses and phone numbers. This information was passed to the SIA by the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN).

The SIA conducted a lengthy and complex UK-wide investigation into a number of contracts running from 2012 to early 2016. They had all been secured by one individual, John Wear Gaines, using various pseudonyms and different company names.

The SIA, in conjunction with Warwickshire Police, arrested Gaines in October 2017 and seized material linking him not only to the businesses in question, but to several alternative identities.

Gaines had told the court that the workers whom he failed to pay were either “asleep on the job” or had failed to provide proper documentation. However, the court heard from a variety of witnesses who claimed that he refused to supply written contacts, ignored requests for payment, and left threatening phone messages for those who he defrauded.​​

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Director who deployed unlicensed guards convicted 21/11/2019

THE DIRECTOR of a Suffolk company has been convicted at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court of supplying unlicensed security guards to haulage companies operating at the port of Felixstowe.

Anthony Blackman, the director of Port Side Solutions Ltd of Ipswich, pleaded guilty to providing two unlicensed operatives on 12 separate occasions. He was sentenced on 11 November to 80 hours unpaid community service, and ordered to pay costs of £599.60 plus a victim surcharge of £85.

His company, Port Side Solutions, was issued with a fine of £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs, plus a victim surcharge of £170. Port Side Solutions Ltd supplies staff undertaking various duties to freight companies; they extended these duties to include security services.

Nathan Salmon, of the Security Industry Authority (SIA) criminal investigation team, said, “Businesses need to be aware that if they supply security operatives under contract, SIA licences are required even where the core business is not one of security. The court has acknowledged that Anthony Blackman was well aware of the fact that he was providing unlicensed security guards. This was despite the fact that he himself was an SIA licence holder, and knew that his staff required licences to operate. It’s important to note that the protection of property under a contract for services, just like the protection of people, must be properly and legally undertaken by licensed personnel.”

Port Side Solutions has provided security to two haulage firms at Folkestone over a period of several years. Security staff provided during the week appear to have been properly licensed, but weekend security at one of the firms consisted of a father and daughter team, neither of whom were licensed.​​

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Body worn cameras transforming security industry 21/11/2019

BODY WORN Cameras (BWCs) are transforming policing and security around the globe, helping to create new connected officers who can stream video, access information and collaborate in real-time enabling them to operate safely and more efficiently in the field.

Richie McBride, managing director of BWC experts Edesix, says "BWCs are now built for a connected world and are being used by officers on the front line to help prevent both criminal and anti-social behaviour when out on patrol.

"Technology has transformed policing and security in recent years. New innovative solutions have driven the creation of new connected officers who can stream, access information and collaborate in real-time. BWC captured footage not only provides greater transparency of interactions with the public, but also significantly increases early guilty pleas and saves officers valuable time as they often do not need to attend court.

"Police officers have always been connected, either to the public and communities they serve, or with their colleagues on the street and in the control room. They have shared information and generated insights to help address common problems and protect those with common vulnerabilities. However, digital technology has now enhanced these connections, enabling officers to feel more empowered, supported and secure."

VideoBadges have been utilised by police forces across the UK for some time now. Police forces, such as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), have utilised our BWCs since 2016 to enhance the security of both officers and the general public, and to improve training and best practice.  

There are now 2,500 cameras being used by over 7,000 officers covering approximately 173,000 incidents each year in Northern Ireland. The BWCs are being utilised by Local Policing Teams, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Tactical Support Groups, Roads Policing Units, Dog Section, District Support Teams and Armed Response Units.

PSNI superintendent David Moore adds, "Video evidence puts the victims of crime first. The pilot of this technology in Foyle district demonstrated how Body Worn Video has the potential to improve the quality of evidence provided by police officers and thereby increase the number of offenders brought to justice. Video evidence provides a compelling account of events and enables the raw emotion and action from a scene to be replayed in the courts in a manner that could never be captured in a witness statement.

"It also supports accountability and transparency, both of which are key elements in increasing public confidence in policing. The introduction of this new technology is the latest example of our commitment to these principles as we continue to work together with the community to keep people safe."

Armed response and firearms teams are also being equipped with head-mounted cameras due to the fact that chest-mounted cameras could potentially obstruct an officer's view during firearms use. The Metropolitan Police recently began rolling-out 1000 head-mounted cameras, with West Yorkshire Police and North Wales Police following suit.

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NFCC responds to Home Office fire statistics 18/11/2019

THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council has voiced its concern that the latest Home Office figures show a six per cent increase in fire fatalities over the last year – and a 19 per cent increase in dwelling fire fatalities.

According to the statistics, there has been a 14 per cent increase in the number of fires over the same period and a two per cent increase in the number of incidents attended overall, with a 16 per cent increase in deliberate fires.

The Home Office figures ‘Fire & Rescue incident statistics, England, year ending June 2019’, published on 14 November, focuses on all incidents, fire-related fatalities and casualties.

NFCC chair Roy Wilsher commented, “It is deeply concerning to see this increase in the number of fatalities and fires.

“While there were no further reductions for fire and rescue services in the most recent government Spending Round, these figures illustrate why we must be resourced effectively; prevent fires, meet our statutory fire protection duties and deal with risk and demand.

“For more than a decade, we saw a decline in incidents but worryingly, this seems to be reversing. Between 2013 and 2016, this had reduced to around half a million per year but this year this now stands at more than 573,000 incidents.

I have written to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to highlight the long term under investment in fire services which has impacted our core roles.

“NFCC will also continue to press both the Home Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for further investment, particularly in fire protection.

“The recent findings of the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 report, coupled with recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s review into building regulations, will lead to increased pressures on fire services. Therefore, we need to ensure services are given the support to transform to meet any challenges head on, with confidence.

The increase in fires can be largely attributed to the 28% per cent increase in secondary fires due to last year’s hot weather.

Fire false alarms continue to account for the majority of incidents attended (40 per cent), while fire accounted for 32 per cent with the remainder being non-fire incidents (28 per cent).

Key results:

  • There were 268 fire-related fatalities – an increase of 6%.
  • Three were 215 fire related fatalities in dwelling fires, an increase of 19%
  • FRSs attended 182,491 fires: A 14 per cent increase compared with the previous year
  • 28 per cent more secondary fires in the year ending June 2019
  • Total deliberate fires increased by 16 per cent
  • Primary dwelling fires attended by FRSs, just under three-quarters (74%) were in houses, bungalows, converted flats and other properties, whilst just over a quarter (26%) were in purpose-built flats
  • 17 per cent of all dwelling fires were in purpose-built low-rise (1-3 storeys) flats/maisonettes; seven per cent were in purpose-built medium-rise (4-9 storeys) flats and three per cent were in purpose-built high-rise (10+ storeys) flats
  • FRSs attended 798 fires in purpose-built high-rise (10+ storeys) flats, a two per cent decrease compared with the previous year (811)
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Avoid electrical fires this autumn 18/11/2019

WEST SUSSEX Fire & Rescue Service is encouraging residents and businesses to check electrical appliances to highlight the risk of fires.

The timely reminder coincides with Electrical Fire Safety Week, from 18-24 November.

In 2018/19:

  • The service attended almost 500 electrical fires in people’s home.
  • 48% of these incidents involved cooking equipment including ovens, grills, toasters and microwaves.
  • 26% of these call-outs were due to faulty wiring, with frayed or damaged leads and cables discovered by firefighters.
  • 82 call-outs were to electrical fires at businesses around the county and 51% were caused by faulty wiring, cables and plugs.

Nicki Peddle, head of prevention at West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service said, “There are simple things people can do to check their electrical appliances are safe, such as regularly checking the cables for damage and checking for hot plugs and sockets that may be damaged.”

The largest proportion of electrical fires WSFRS attends start in the kitchen.

Tips to prevent an electrical fire include:

  • Unplug all appliances and chargers when you’re not using them.
  • Don’t charge your phone overnight or for long periods of time unsupervised and don’t leave them to charge under pillows or piles clothes.
  • Don’t use more than one extension lead per socket
  • Don’t overload sockets (use https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guidance/safety-around-the-home/overloading-sockets/ to check
  • Use a charger from a reputable supplier.
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  • Electrical equipment should never be thrown away in your bin as it contains hazardous substances. Unwanted appliances should be taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Site,  which is a free and easy way to recycle these items.

Remember if there’s a fire – get out, stay out and call 999. Never go back inside a burning building.

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SYFRA's new chief fire officer 18/11/2019

SOUTH YORKSHIRE Fire & Rescue Authority (SYFRA) has appointed a new Chief Fire Officer.

Alex Johnson was appointed following a selection process which included a written application and panel interview with members of the Fire Authority.

Alex joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue as assistant chief fire officer in 2017, before being promoted to deputy chief fire officer. She’d previously served with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue for more than 25 years, having joined as a firefighter in 1992.

Fire Authority Chair Cllr Robert Taylor, said, “Alex is an outstanding candidate who has demonstrated to Fire Authority members her commitment to building a successful, inclusive and positive culture at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.

“In addition to her obvious talent in managing and developing people, she also has a firm operational background – which has been admirably demonstrated recently through her command of the fire service’s response to the widespread flooding which has hit our region.”

Alex will take over the role in January, when the current Chief Fire Officer James Courtney QFSM retires. James joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2006 and has been Chief Fire Officer since 2011.

“Fire Authority members would like to thank James for the experience and leadership he has demonstrated in the role of Chief Fire Officer over the last eight years and wish him all the best for a long and happy retirement,” said Robert.

Alex said: “I inherit a successful organisation full of brilliant, talented people who are proud of the part they play in making South Yorkshire safer and stronger. Leading this organisation is the honour of a lifetime and I will do all I can to make the service a brilliant place to work, which delivers outstanding results for the communities we serve.”

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Retailer sentenced for unlicensed fireworks storage 18/11/2019

TYNE AND Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) is reminding businesses of their duty to comply with regulations for safely selling and storing fireworks, as a Newcastle man is sentenced for breaching the conditions of his licence.

In October 2017, TWFRS fire safety officers visited The Burnside, West Denton to inspect various commercial and domestic properties owned by Mr Yaseen Ashraf and members of his family. Although Mr Ashraf had a valid licence for storing fireworks containing up to 75kg of explosive material at one of the properties, the inspectors found that he:

  • had stored 93kg of explosive content at that property
  • had stored fireworks containing an additional 376kg of explosive material at another property without a licence to do so
  • did not allow adequate distance separation between the place where explosives were stored and other buildings
  • did not take the appropriate measures to prevent fire or explosion, with fireworks stored alongside liquid gas cylinders and combustible materials

After discovering these breaches, TWFRS revoked Mr Ashraf’s licence and seized approximately 200 boxes of fireworks – believed to be worth around £15,000. On 27 September 2019, Mr Ashraf pleaded guilty to four charges related to breaches of the Explosives Regulations 2014.

TWFRS Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Robson said: “What our Fire Safety Inspectors found at The Burnside was irresponsible and dangerous. By law, the amount of Hazard Type 3 and 4 explosives present at the unlicensed premises should have been stored at least 47m from all dwellings, shops and public buildings. Instead, Mr Ashraf kept them within a terraced row of shops with flats above, putting the lives of dozens of people at risk.”

On 15 November 2019, Mr Ashraf was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court. He received an 8 month custodial sentence suspended for 18 months and was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service, as well as paying £850 in costs.

ACO Robson continued: “The custodial sentence handed down in this case highlights the seriousness of this breach of safety regulations. We hope that today’s outcome will act as a reminder to all retailers that the consequences of storing and selling fireworks without a licence – or breaching the conditions of your licence – can be severe.”

To apply for a licence, businesses must contact TWFRS who will arrange to inspect their premises within 28 days. If their application is approved, they can sell fireworks during certain times including the Bonfire period (15 October to 10 November) and the New Year period (26-31 December). Only traders with a separate annual licence can sell fireworks all year round.

ACO Robson concluded: “We’d also like to remind members of the public to only buy fireworks from reputable retailers, as there’s no guarantee that fireworks bought online or from unlicensed sellers meet the required safety standards. If you suspect that someone is selling or storing fireworks illegally, please contact us.”

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Fatal fire in Gateshead flat 16/11/2019

ON SATURDAY 9 November, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service crews were called to a ground floor flat on Rosebery Avenue in the Deckham area of Gateshead. A female casualty was rescued and taken by ambulance to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, but sadly passed away the next day.

Firefighters from Gateshead and Newcastle Central fire stations arrived at the property at 5.27am, where they found the fire in the living room and smoke damage to the rest of the flat.

An adult male had already left the property and was in the care of paramedics when the fire crews arrived. He was also taken to hospital suffering from burns and smoke inhalation, but his injuries are not thought to be life threatening. A dog and a budgie were also rescued by firefighters.

Lynsey McVay, TWFRS area manager for community safety, commented, “This is extremely sad news and our thoughts and sympathies are with this lady’s family and friends. We also hope that the male casualty makes a full recovery.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but this incident is a tragic reminder of the importance of having working smoke alarms. Please test them regularly to keep yourself, your family and your pets safe.”

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House fires halve in East Ayrshire 16/11/2019

THE NUMBER of accidental house fires in East Ayrshire has halved over the past three years, latest figures reveal.

Firefighters were called to 42 fires within homes across the region between April and September 2019 – down from a total of 84 over the same period in 2016.

The number of fire-related casualties has also decreased over the past three years, down from 12 to 4 during the same period.

This drop comes as firefighters in East Ayrshire carried out a total of 553 Home Fire Safety Visits (HFSV) in the area, during which crews fitted 411 smoke detectors – a cornerstone of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s prevention efforts to support people to stay safe at home, particularly the elderly and vulnerable.

Firefighters will provide advice on what to do in the event of an emergency and also check or install smoke detectors for free.

SFRS Area Manager Ian McMeekin, the Local Senior Officer for East, North and South Ayrshire, said early warning signs of fire through working smoke alarms are vital to reducing emergency incidents in the home.

He said: “We welcome this reduction, and remain absolutely committed to preventing fires from occurring in the first place.

“That is why we make such a concerted effort in the provision of our free Home Fire Safety Visits.

“We want everyone to be safe in their homes and cannot stress enough the importance of having a working smoke alarm.

“We are always particularly keen to support the most vulnerable members of our communities to live safely within the home so if you have an elderly relative, neighbour or friend who you think could benefit from a visit, then please ensure to get in contact.”

The latest figures were revealed in a SFRS report presented to the East Ayrshire Council Police and Fire Rescue Committee on Tuesday, November 12.

The report also highlighted a reduction in deliberate fire setting across the region over the past three years.

A total of 272 deliberate fires were reported to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service between April and September 2019, down from 353 during the same six-month period in 2016.

AM McMeekin added: “It is very pleasing to highlight this significant fall of more than 20 per cent over the last three years.

“This reduction is a clear result of our long-term preventative partnership working to address the close link between these incidents and anti-social behaviour.

“We welcome this continued fall in the number of needless fires our crews are being called to – but we are never complacent, and we will continue to make every effort to drive these figures down further.”

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