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Why Accreditation Is Key in Deciding on a Lone Worker Solution

21 December 2015
 December 21, 2015
Lone worker
Category Blog Archive

This past week, The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) conducted an interview asking the question: When buying a lone worker service how can I be sure that the supplier has the most effective access to the Police?


Ken Meanwell, lead on Security Systems Policy at the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) led the way on confirming that “Only audited and accredited lone worker suppliers, complying with the NPCC policy are able to state on publicity literature that their service is ‘Police Compliant’”.


Full Police compliance comes with the British Standards BS 8484:2011 and BS 5979 as the core requirements to guarantee a level 1 Police response. The Alarm Receiving Centre based standard, BS 5979 has also been supplemented with the “adopted BS EN 50518, complimented by BS 8591.” Meanwell states that “The NPCC and the two auditing bodies, NSI and SSAIB, have confirmed that all three [ARC] standards are a valid route for an ARC to be in a position to apply for URNs.”


Lone Worker personal safety services have been on the rise in recent years for two key reasons; The tightening of stringent health and safety legislation and the number of employees who now work alone, rather than in a team due to cost-cutting or restructuring. It’s estimated that over six million people in the UK work alone some or all of the time.


It’s imperative that measures are put in place by organisations to assist their lone working staff should they need help, but confusion can occur about choosing an appropriate solution. Companies need to ensure that not only your Duty of Care to staff is covered but more importantly that staff can quickly and easily call for assistance when required. With a wealth of lone worker suppliers in the market today, what are the yardsticks for an appropriate and credible choice?


Meanwell, who works closely with the BSIA in an advising capacity stated the advantages of choosing a lone worker protection provider that is fully accredited to industry standards.


“Lone worker suppliers demonstrating compliance with British Standards use Alarm Receiving Centres (ARCs) which have to meet stringent requirements around physical security of buildings, staff security vetting and meet call handling response times, all to British and European Standards,” said Meanwell.


“The ARC must operate 24/7 and in the event of a catastrophic event, it must be able to quickly reinstate services. The NPCC Security Systems Policy permits these accredited ARCs to be granted a Unique Reference Number (URN) by each UK police force. A trained and certified ARC operator listens in to audio, if safe speaks to the user and then considers this, alongside other information available within the ARC, to determine whether requesting a level 1 response is appropriate. The URN number is quoted when an ARC contacts a police force and these calls are prioritised as Level 1 Emergency calls. Careful use of the URN system reduces false alarms and ensures its credibility with responding police officers.”


When asked if the use of URNs provide a guaranteed quicker Police response than if using the 999 service, Meanwell answered, “In the majority of cases yes, the police provide an emergency level 1 response to a URN call due to the ARCs assessment. Obviously this cannot mean the URN call will remain the priority. Common sense applies and incidents involving firearms, large-scale public disorder or a fatal road traffic accident may take priority.”


“However, in most cases, once a URN is used, the police do attend as a priority. Whereas, when a 999 call is received and assessed, it takes its place in a list of ongoing and ever changing events.”


Without the use of Police URNs, uncertified Lone Worker safety services are forced to escalate via the 999 emergency response. There are a number of reasons as to why this isn’t as efficient or effective. When dealing with the welfare and safety of your lone working staff, minutes can mean the difference between a successful resolution or one that leads to tragedy.


Not only does accreditation and Police compliance lead to quicker emergency response times, but acts as a ‘mark of quality’ when choosing a lone worker supplier.


“Only audited and accredited lone worker suppliers, complying with the NPCC policy are able to state on publicity literature that their service is ‘Police Compliant’. This prevents companies that have not demonstrated compliance to relevant standards or NPCC policy being able to set up business and claim any sort of police accreditation.”


Meanwell, who works closely with the British Standards Institute (BSI) – the organisation responsible for all British Standards, also went on record to clarify the Police’s position regarding recent changes in ARC certification… confirming that although two new accreditations were “being adopted” and that BS 5979 was still “a valid route for an ARC to be in a position to apply for URNs.”


“BS 5979 has been the de facto standard for many years and most UK ARCs with certification work to this standard.”


He also agreed that BS 8484 accreditation brings with it market clarity and benefits the customer.


“The current system has benefits for all parties; the Police benefit from working with knowledgeable and experienced ARCs. The employers and lone workers benefit from the confidence of any escalation being assessed expertly and if required passed to the Police in the most effective way possible.”


Ultimately, when choosing a personal safety service for lone workers, certification breeds confidence in deciding upon an appropriate solution. The choice is yours; implement a solution which can guarantee a Police response via a quicker method of escalation, or leave the safety of your lone workers in the hands of an unaccredited supplier.


The full interview can be read here.