DTR008 Introduction to Security and Risk Management

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This module will take you through Introduction to Security and Risk Management.

  1. Introduction
  2. 1.2 Security, Freedom, Threat: The Three Basic Concepts of Security Management
  3. 1.3 What is the Correct Level of Security?

The information in this document is part of the Deltar
‘Level 4 Management Award in Advanced Risk and Crisis Management’


In a hundred years’ time, when the history of the 21st century comes to be written, the first decade of the century may well be called ‘The Age of Security’. Although security has been a fundamental consideration since the beginning of human history, security has come to play an increasingly central role in all aspects of our lives in the recent past. This has affected, amongst other things, the way we live, how we travel, how we communicate and the way we move money around.

The role of the modern security manager has also had to adapt to the emergence of new threats and challenges. The traditional role of the security manager was often seen as being limited to ensuring that windows and doors were locked, and preventing goods from being stolen. However, the modern security manager faces a wider range of tasks and challenges. It is not uncommon for security managers to be called upon to deal with situations involving terrorism, cyber-security, crisis management and the personal protection of senior executives, as well as more traditional tasks around physical security (fences, lighting, locks, CCTV, access control systems, alarm monitoring and control room design).

As well as that, the modern security manager also faces the need to operate in a tight financial environment. Unfortunately, security is often seen as a ‘non-productive cost’, and security managers need to fight their corner at Board room level to ensure that their assets, personnel and budget are not cut.

However, whilst the security manager faces increasing challenges due to the changing nature of the world, there bare also increased opportunities. It was not so long ago that the corporate security manager (who in those days would invariably be a man) would be a retired police officer who found work through the Old Boys network, and who mainly saw the work he was doing as an extension of their police activities. The modern security manager, however, is expected to be able to demonstrate the same level of professional development and technical excellence as any other senior expert in the company.

The purpose of this programme is to ensure that you, wherever you are in your security career, will have a full understanding of all of the major issues in modern security management. Whatever your present level of operation or future aspirations may be, this programme is designed to give you the basic framework that will allow you to understand how the various components of modern security management fit together. All of the Modules can be approached as stand-alone subjects, but just as in security itself, you will find that many of them use the same basic concepts of security management, and there may be areas where the language and concepts overlap each other.

1.2 Security, Freedom, Threat: The Three Basic Concepts of Security Management

If we want to find an all-encompassing definition of security, one that would be valid under any circumstances, it would be something along the lines of: ‘The purpose of security is to create a safe environment where routine activities can be carried out in as normal a way as possible, in accordance with the perceived level of threat’.

By using this definition, we are introducing the three basic concepts that are the foundation of all security management programmes, namely:

  1. Security
  2. Freedom
  3. Threat

These concepts apply whether you are locking your bicycle to a railing, putting defensive fencing around a nuclear power station, protecting a VIP or using an access control system into a multi-usage commercial building. The first two concepts, Security and Freedom, are inseparably linked. If you want more security, you will pay for that in freedom. If you decide you need to have more freedom (for example to move in and out of a building without showing a pass, to use a private laptop in the workplace, or to allow cars to park near your building), then that will inevitably mean that you will have a lower level of security than if those things had not been allowed.

Therefore, the question that all security managers need to address is ‘How much security do I need?’. In order to answer this seemingly simple question, we have to ask another question in return: ‘What is the threat?’. Unless we have an understanding of what is the level of threat, we have no way of assessing what level of security would be considered appropriate.

Airport security checks are an excellent example of this principle. The perceived high risk of attacks against airlines has led to governments across the world increasing the levels of security at airports. However, this has had direct impact on our freedom, for example we cannot take liquids and other material onto planes, and / or we have to undergo what might be considered as intrusive security checks, including removing belts and shoes and, more controversially, undergoing full-body x-rays.

1.3 What is the Correct Level of Security?

Given the potential impact of a successful terrorist attack, it is not surprising that there have been fierce debates concerning the correct balance between security and personal freedom.

Arguments made in 2006, following the attempt to use ‘chemical bombs’ on ten airliners travelling from UK to United States and Canada saw politicians, who wanted to introduce laws such as ID cards and extended period of detention with arrest for suspected terrorists, clash with judges, who felt that these new rules were outside of the normal British legal system, and were disproportionate to the actual level of threat.

UK Home Secretary John Reid made a speech that stated that Britain was ‘now facing the most sustained period of sustained threat since the end of the second world war’. Reid went on to state that critics of the government anti-terror legislation were putting national security at risk. The Court of Appeal disagreed with this, and stated that there was no justification for the declaration of a state of public emergency, and that therefore ‘Terrorist violence, serious as it is, does not threaten our institutions of government or our existence as a civil community’. In the same judgement, Lord Hoffman, made his famous announcement that ‘The real threat to the life of the nation . . . comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these’.

As a security manager, one of your fundamental roles will be to assess the actual level of threat, and strike the appropriate balance between the freedom required by your organisation and personnel to carry out their normal duties, whilst monitoring or controlling those activities in order to ensure the right level of security cover is provided.