Covid-19 and the implications for the security sector: what happened and what has been and is being learned?

  • 83% of respondents felt that overall security had performed well in the crisis.
  • 74% agreed or strongly agreed that security professionals have developed new skill sets that will be invaluable going forward.
  • 59% felt that security would retain a greater priority than held previously due to fear of future pandemics.
  • 55% indicated that there are other service functions that stood out more for their achievements than security did during the pandemic.
  • There was concern about increases in crime and risk and other challenges such as managing the mental health of workers.
  • Opportunities were apparent – a majority of respondents thought demand would increase for some services such as remote monitoring and mobile patrols and for technology such as CCTV and access control.
  • 65% felt the pandemic may hasten a shift to more technology and less personnel.
  • 69% thought it was right to expect marked improvements and innovation in security from now on.
  • 75% felt that despite good intentions, the financial constraints that are likely to follow the pandemic will undermine any progress made.

The aim of the work was to better understand what has been learned in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic – the challenges, successes and failings. The report examines the views of security professionals including those working in sectors deemed ‘essential’, collected via a survey and in depth interviews.

The report identifies that there are positives that have emerged within very challenging circumstances – security has performed well, adapted, been flexible, learnt new skills, and has been recognised as ‘essential’. Just as there are concerns about cutbacks and new risks, there are also opportunities to innovate, to show how things can be done differently, to show that security can step up to emerging issues. Demand for some types of security is thought likely to increase. But the traditional issues faced by security remain. The status of security may have increased during the pandemic, but not necessarily in comparison with other functions. And the successes and appreciation for security may start to fade when we enter a new normal. It is crucial that the sector is effective in communicating that the value of security is not just in responding to a crisis.

Professor Martin Gill who led the research noted:
‘As we emerge from the pandemic there will be many challenges – financial uncertainty, new ways of works, potential changes in crime and security risks. Our sample though also pointed to new opportunities. Some were positive about what next, others less so, their words should be heeded.’

The report is available to download here