GN9.6: Embedding sustainability within security services

Guidance Note purpose 

The purpose of this Guidance Note is to provide asset managers, property managers and facilities managers with guidance for incorporating sustainability into the procurement, implementation and on-going management of security services. 

Context 

Incorporating sustainability within security contracts involves the identification of environmental and social issues relating to security activities and ensuring that they are adequately considered during the procurement of human resources and materials at all stages of the security life cycle. 

Environmental issues could involve, for example, vehicle fleet emissions and waste. 

Social issues could involve, for example, anti-corruption and bribery. 

Importance 

The procurement of security services without adequate due diligence, or with poor management of the security contractor or service provider, has the potential to: 

  • Lead to environmental damage. 
  • Present a serious risk to human health and wellbeing. 

As security services are subject to a range of regulations, alongside potentially damaging the reputational of both the property managers and the asset manager, non-compliance also introduces operational and financial risk through exposure to penalties and fines. 

Relevant legislation relating to the incorporation of sustainability within security contracts includes: 

  • Bribery Act 2010. 
  • Private Security Industry Act 2001. 
  • The Modern Slavery Act 2015. 

Responsibilities & Interests

The table below summarises the key activities associated with embedding sustainability within security contracts, and highlights where asset managers, property managers and facilities managers are likely to have a responsibility or specific interest. 

  • AM - Asset Manager
  • PM - Property Manager
  • FM - Facilities Manager

1. Procurement practice  

Stakeholder:

2. Products 

Stakeholder:

3. Training 

Stakeholder:

4a. Security and social performance 

Benefits:

4b. Security and environmental performance 

Stakeholder:

5. Ongoing monitoring 

Stakeholder:

6. Supply chain management 

Stakeholder:

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How to

Intro

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Property managers play a key role in embedding sustainability requirements within security contracts, and, alongside facilities managers, checking that contractors are operating as intended.  Asset managers have an ongoing interest in ensuring that security services comply with regulations alongside any additional requirements they may specify. 

The way in which sustainability is incorporated within security contracts must be stringent, fair and comprehensive to enable the intended interpreted by security contractors and service providers. However, there must also be flexibility for a property manager to take into account any additional requirements, guidance or best practice specified by asset managers. 

Information flow in security is particularly critical – especially in times of crisis - and yet also very challenging. Property managers should therefore ensure security personnel have ready access to clear and timely information and situation analysis, and thereby feel empowered to make the right decisions, as well as implementing any relevant plans and procedures in a timely and effective manner.  

Embedding sustainability requirements within security services involves the consideration of the following elements:  

1: Procurement practice

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The procurement stage provides the primary opportunity to influence the sustainability impacts of security contracts. 

When selecting a security contractor, property and facilities managers should be aware that security service will set the tone for the ethical standards of their building.  It is important that the integrity both of the company and the personnel who come to work on site is considered when tendering security contracts. 

When agreeing the lease, sustainability issues and priority areas should have been documented between the asset manager and its occupiers.  Relevant sustainability requirements can then cascade within security services contracts to define and confirm acceptance of responsibilities, alongside lines of reporting and accountability. 

Due diligence and pre-screening questionnaires should include consideration of the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act.  As this Act acknowledges security as a high-risk service in relation to modern slavery, it is important that full checks have been undertaken in all contractor selection processes prior to instruction. 

Furthermore, security contractors should pay at least the Living Wage, and have in place reasonable measures to ensure good working conditions.  Given that importance of improving the gender balance within the security sector, security contractors should be actively encouraged to disclose and improve gender representation, and report periodically on their progress. There should be evidence to show that a security contractor encourages and fosters an inclusive working culture and behavioural norms. 

A security contractor should also support the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association and encourage ways of maintaining open dialogue with employees, for example through employee forum meetings, employee ombudsmen, and channels for reporting concerns, with the option to do so anonymously.  Appropriate whistleblowing channels should be available for security personnel to report and ensure any issues raised are dealt with fairly, clearly, efficiently and appropriately, without fear of retaliation. 

Pre-screening should include checking whether security sub-contractors have been convicted or had a notice served upon them for infringement of environmental legislation, with further investigation into the circumstances, accompanied by subsequent action, where necessary. 

Ideally, security sub-contractors should be required to operate a certified Environmental Management System, or at least have a documented process for identifying and managing significant environmental and/or social sustainability aspects and impacts.   

It is important that property managers consider the development of specific clauses relating to sustainability for inclusion within security contracts.  The information set out within this guidance note may be helpful in guiding the development of these clauses. 

While there are currently no set, standard sustainability clauses relating to security contracts, property managers should consult a range of sources to develop relevant clauses that will drive continual improvement, and that are likely to be consistent with requirements set for security contractors across the real estate sector.  This process may include: 

  • Engaging facilities managers within a property or asset managers wider supply chain. 
  • Reviewing experience with existing contractors. 
  • Peer-to-peer discussions with other property managers in open forums. 

2: Products

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Property managers should any ensure security products sourced have obtained relevant third-party sustainability certification standards where relevant. 

In relation to the use of vehicles, property managers should consider including a requirement for an electrified fleet, especially if already supported by the adequate provision of onsite charging facilities. 

3. Training

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As security contractors influence the tone of ethical behaviour in a property, early and ongoing engagement on the communication of ethical standards and behaviours, as well as confirmation that relevant training is in place, are important focus areas. 

Key aspects of awareness raising and training for security staff could relate to, for example:  

  • Understanding industry-specific sustainability requirements, to meet asset and property managers’ sustainability objectives and targets. 
  • The appropriate use of the property’s lighting, heating and air-conditioning facilities. 
  • Managing health and safety risk, for example fire safety and first aid. This should include supporting a robust reporting system. 
  • Appropriate security procedures, particularly relating to increased security checks to follow COVID-19 protocols, and in-depth knowledge of local security plans.  
  • The use of technology and data, for example automated alert methods for emerging threats (new local clusters, second waves, and changing security risks) and building technology to make sites safer.  
  • Bribery and anti-corruption protocols. 
  • Combatting unconscious bias, including those relating to racism. 

Security personnel should have qualifications in place before coming to site. However, ongoing training is also essential. Training and targets should be reviewed periodically to ensure high standards are fully comprehended and met. In relation to COVID-19, organisations should also ensure they conduct regular reviews of response actions carried out in earlier phases of the crisis, as well as of  their plans’ relevance to dealing with the next phases. 

Training and sustainability performance targets should be reviewed periodically to support the maintenance of high standards.  Property and facilities managers should consider providing training material in other languages in addition to English to align with the demographics of the security contractor’s personnel. 

4a: Security and social performance

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The security sector has a pivotal role to play in the protection of people, businesses and assets, particularly in light of COVID-19. 

Security services should be cognisant of continually reviewing and updating their procedures in line with the latest government guidelines. They should also be aware of emerging social threats relating to the pandemic, for example petty crime or increased xenophobia, and be able to deal with these issues in a confidently, fair and appropriate manner. 

4b: Security and environmental performance

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The activities of security contractors can have a significant impact on a building’s sustainability performance. 

Lighting, heating and air-conditioning (HVAC) 

It is important that HVAC systems in a building operate at hours that match the times when they are required. These needs will vary throughout the day and in different seasons. 

If security staff operate outside of the main odaffice hours, the system controls should be adjusted to reflect the change in demand for these essential services. It may not be necessary to heat or ventilate a whole building if security is isolated to certain areas and staff are security in rooms for a limited period of time. 

In many buildings, lighting and heating often remain on much longer than is necessary. A good first step is to use inexpensive time controls to automatically switch off the heating at the end of a normal working day and ensure security staff are trained to minimise their energy usage when working outside these hours.  

COVID-19 

In response to COVID-19, it may be possible for security personnel to assist cleaning staff to ensure that appropriate signage e.g. relating to masks and PPE, are clearly visible. 

5: Ongoing monitoring

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Performance standards 

In order to ensure that high sustainability performance standards are achieved and maintained, it is important to review both the services provided and products used on a regular basis.  This review should be against a clear set of output-based KPIs and undertaken as part of annual contract reviews.  

For security, this could include, for example, regularly reviewing data relating to health and safety incidents or the incidence of whistleblowing, including how these are responded to. 

Where standards are found to be lacking, property managers should work collaboratively with the service provider to establish the reason for under-performance.  This may relate to, for example, insufficient resourcing, training or communication.  Following the review, an improvement plan with clear timelines should be mutually agreed and implemented. 

Regulatory requirements 

Facilities Management should ensure there is a formal process in place to review changes in legislation and to ensure any applicable changes in legislations are included in contract renewals. 

6: Supply chain management

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As security falls into a high-risk service category in respect of employment processes, checks should be undertaken routinely on the service provider. 

This should include ensuring that directly employed staff and, as far as possible, any other staff in the supply chain are offered a safe place to work where there is no bullying, harassment,  discrimination or unreasonable working conditions of any kind (e.g. unpaid work, excessive working hours).  The Property Manager has responsibility for ensuring that there are demonstrable policies and processes in place to ensure this. 

Related Guidance Notes 

The following Guidance Notes contain related information: