1. What is the current security situation in the Middle East with regard to schools?
The U.A.E. is a safe place with the authorities working hard to ensure a peaceful environment for all residents and while there are no threats to be concerned about school administrators should be aware of how to gain information from government authorities, embassies and consulates to ensure they remain up to date with security concerns that can evolve. The safety of our children is paramount so despite the current security posture being normal we must maintain vigilance.
2. How many schools do you work with?
Emrill currently provides security to a small number of schools, however we are always looking to expand and offer our services to other schools in the country. We have observed that schools are reluctant to source fully fledged and licensed security services and personnel, due to the increased costs and prefer to use watchmen as security staff, most of whom are untrained and unlicensed to do the work they are actually hired to do.
3. Can you give examples of the schools you work with?
We try not to discuss specific clients, however we provide and have provided security to western curriculum schools, mixed (or international curriculum) schools and special needs schools.
4. What exactly have you done to help secure schools?
The obvious answer here is that we provide uniformed, licensed and trained security staff, but we go further. At Emrill we endeavour to match our staff according to gender as some schools prefer female security and this is followed by a check on relevance for language and culture to ensure the highest level of security.
Our security managers visit each school and conduct frequent security surveys that enable them to identify concerns and escalate these to the client, along with recommendations to enhance not just security but safety as well. Most parents here in the UAE are aware, parking and traffic is always a major problem when reaching the school during peak times and this is one such area where we suggest traffic management plans and layouts to enhance safety. Prior to placement our staff are put through rigorous training programs that equip them in implementing such procedures. We also encourage school bus safety, using a guardian ID system for younger children and assist administrators with evacuation planning by conducting regular drills with all staff and pupils.
Emrill is fortunate to have solid contacts with local authorities and embassies in the region that ensures we are usually one the first companies to be advised of relevant concerns. This allows us to inform our clients of evolving situations and offer immediate mitigation plans to ensure safety and security is maintained.
5. What advice do you give schools in this region about security?
Although most security concerns in the UAE are not terrorism related, we take those types of incidents just as seriously. Firstly the school should always be one of the safest places for children. This can be created by strict access control to only approved contractors and visitors, which is paramount to ensure the integrity of the perimeter and any electronic security systems i.e. CCTV, access card systems, fire indication panels and alarm systems.
Procedures should also be in place to ensure the safety of the student. As mentioned earlier positive guardian ID, traffic management, visibility of children alongside the traditional security processes should all be in place and reviewed periodically.
6. Do you think schools are prepared for a breach of security?
Usually, during our first contact with schools the short answer is no. They may have some procedures from a previous provider or internally, but we find these are not reviewed regularly or updated according to new security developments. We make recommendations based on our involvement in the security industry’s best practices, to design and implement procedures that diminish or respond to these threats.
7. How do you see the security industry (in relation to schools) developing in the next 12-18 months?
We hope that schools become more aware of the implications of using unlicensed and untrained staff, in regards to watchmen acting as security. The security market as a whole is maturing in the UAE and we have noticed an increase in expectations from clients, which is required across the entire security business as it forces companies who have lax procedures to improve or exit the market.
Read the full article in Education Journal ME here: http://www.educationjournalme.com/features/safe-and-sound_72