Canadian Security Magazine

Passage to India: lots of guards, but are they trained?

By Glen Kitteringham   

Features Opinion

 I just returned from an 18 day trip to Delhi, India. I went there to train Certified Protection Officer Instructors on behalf of the International Foundation for Protection Officers for G4S Security (India). G4S India has an ambitious plan to train their guards to the Certified Protection Officer standard within three years.

They strongly believe this initiative will give them an edge over their
many competitors. I asked someone familiar with the Indian security
industry if there were any official estimates of how many guards there
are in the industry. I was told the government was not keeping
numbers as yet. However, I was told there were likely 10,000 guard companies
from the small ”˜mom and pop’ operations to international contract security
companies in Delhi and the surrounding area.

With an estimated
population of 30 million in Delhi and surrounding area, and 1.2 billion
in the country, this may well be true. I personally estimate there are
several million guards in the country. From my arrival straight through
to departure I saw guards everywhere. Manpower is extremely cheap with
the average guard making around Rupees 4000/month. At 42 rupees per
Canadian dollar, this works out to about $95/month.

The first guard
I saw was in the Indira Gandhi International Airport. He was stationed
at the bottom of an escalator in the arrivals area. Presumably, his job
was to turn the escalator off in the event there was a problem with it.

The next day, Sunday, I was picked up by a senior trainer with G4S who
would be my escort for much of my time in country. We drove to a local
mall. There were two guards stationed at the underground parkade
entrance conducting vehicle searches. The first guard, using a wheeled
mirror would slide the contraption under the front of the vehicle. I
guess he was looking for explosives but as he slid the mirror beneath
the vehicle I saw he didn’t even look down. The second guard had us pop
the rear door hatch. He waved a hand-held metal detector around for a
few seconds before closing the hatch. I was told he was looking for
explosives. Good luck with that.

Heading into the underground parking
lot, there were several more guards directing traffic. Once parked, we
went to an elevator bank where we walked through a full body metal
detector before being patted down. We jumped on an elevator, also
operated by a uniformed guard.

We wandered around the mall for about an
hour as I checked out the operation. Each retailer had one or two
uniformed guards stationed at their entrances. The mall property
management company also had their own guards located throughout the
mall. Many of the guard companies had different uniforms. My escort
informed me that there was little interaction between the retail guards
and the mall guards so that there would be little or no coordination of
response if there were any incidents in the mall.

I estimated the
number of guards at this one little shopping mall at about 200. The
guards I saw were mostly unarmed but one large mall that I did go to
did have one security guard armed with a double barred 12 gauge
shotgun. I did see that he had six shotgun shells on an ammunition
holder on the stock of the gun. I often saw metal detectors located in
a number of shopping districts, quite often with no one around. I would
walk through the detector, it would ”˜beep’, presumably activated by my
cellphone or watch but no one was there to search me so it seemed a
waste of time to me.

Lack of training is a major problem as many
security companies don’t provide it. Quite often they simply hire
guards away from those organizations that do.

I also went to an ASIS New Delhi chapter breakfast. There are only two
chapters in the country, the other is in Mumbai. One of my
co-facilitators, who had retired from the Indian army, was a member of
the chapter. He had obtained his CPP a few years previous. The guest
speaker, an American corporate security officer conducted a
presentation on supply chain security.

After the presentation, the
chapter conducted its executive business. Meeting business was the same
as what I had sat through many a time here in Canada. Discussions
ranged from whether to increase chapter dues, what to charge for
breakfast, how to get more members out for the meetings, who could
present at the next breakfast, etc.

I will say that in the short time I
was in India, the senior security people I dealt with were as
professional and knowledgeable as any I have dealt with any in the
world. I was treated with the utmost respect and the Indians were
amazing hosts, second to none.

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