THE EFFECT OF COVID19 ON THE SECURITY DOG INDUSTRY
We caught up with our Director of Specialist Services, Dave Pitt to get some insight into his thoughts on how the COVID19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has affected our industry. This is what Dave had to say:
How do you feel the spread of Coronavirus and lockdown affected the security dog industry?
It will come as no great surprise that the impact of the virus and lockdown has had a significant effect on the deployment of dogs within the security industry. With the widespread closure of ‘business’ throughout the UK, the requirement for a security provision, in the main, has diminished to the bare minimum. This has been replicated across virtually all functions, with a few exceptions that have seen an increase in demand. As a business we have seen a significant reduction in certain security functions, such as explosives and drug detection dogs, that is directly linked with the closure of small, medium and mass spectator events and corporate office space.
The industry has, however, seen an increase in demand for the protection of sensitive/vulnerable and high value locations that are vacant or have a skeleton staff. For us, this has mainly taken the form of General Purpose security dogs, providing a visual deterrent and reassurance for our clients.
Do you feel the legacy of Coronavirus will change the shape of the security dogs industry in the months and years to come?
Security will always be a critical function across the UK. Whilst society may change as a consequence of the virus, security will also need to adapt, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a significant increase in demand for physical security services, once the world returns to the new normal. In the short to medium term we are likely to see a diversification of skills within the industry, such as detection handlers moving into protection work until such time as the detection work increases again.
As you see it Dave, what will be the biggest challenges ahead for our industry?
Whilst the future landscape can feel a little uncertain, one of the challenges, certainly in the short term, will be a focus on getting handlers and dogs back up and running. A large proportion of the industry will have been dormant for a considerable amount of time and will likely need to complete mandatory and refresher training. Handler teams have been unable to complete some training requirements during lockdown. As a business, we will support our teams in completing training whilst assessing capability, with a focus on maintaining the high standards that we and our clients expect.
It is possible that we may also see a migration of workers away from the industry. Those people who have been forced to find employment elsewhere, might not come back. Others are already diversifying as evidenced by a number of search handlers we know, acquiring and training with protection dogs, which in itself represents some interesting possibilities.
It is a distinct possibility, even inevitable, that companies will seek to make cost reductions in the new normal or at least funnel some traditional security spend on to new technologies to help mitigate the spread of COVID19 during the period lockdown is eased and prior to a vaccine being rolled out. It is important that company’s within our sector of the industry focus their clients’ minds on both the cost and operational efficiencies that protection and detection dog teams provide when when used in support of traditional manned guarding or scanning technologies.
One thing that I am absolutely certain of, is that the industry will bounce back. We will be stronger, smarter, with a hunger to continue providing the best possible service to our clients who have and continue to support us through this time.