Security companies




Police shortfalls trigger private security boom

By Nigel Regan bermuda Sun November 1998.

INCREASING numbers of people are turning to private security firms as reports continue of chronic manpower shortages within the police service.

Carlton Crockwell, the president of International Security, said 1998/99 has been his busiest since setting up seven years ago.

He said: "People are getting more and more conscious about security, especially for their own assets and protection." Neighbourhood watch schemes, he added, have also been increasing with residents joining forces to alarm their communities.

He said: "About 15 per cent of the people who come to us do so because they are concerned about the police manpower shortage, but it's not the main reason.

"In 1998/99 there were a lot of horror stories [relating to crime on the island] and I think people want the added protection. People now incorporate added security into their budgets."

Mr. Crockwell said: "I commend the police though because they have made people more aware of how important security is." He said: "Yes, we have a manpower shortage in the police but even if it was at full strength would that solve all of the problems? People are still going to want to protect themselves."

Mr. Crockwell's company specializes in all areas of the business from providing store detectives and construction site security to private homes and hotels. Right now, he said, no one area is outshining the other -- compared to previous year's, however, business is booming.

Douglas Hines, the sales and marketing manager at Bermuda Security Group, also reported an increase in the number of security systems being sold but said it is more to do with the perception there is more crime on the island than the direct result of police manpower shortages.

He said: "Nowhere is obsolete anymore, anybody is fair game. It also seems people are more confrontational." He added whereas people used to get security to protect their homes while they were away, now 90 per cent of residential systems are full systems which can be used when people are at home.

"Before people used to leave their doors open, now they close them," he said.

He added some customers had expressed concern about police response times but that they acknowledged this wasn't necessarily due to the manpower shortage. He said the business has a very good relationship with the police and that the vice president is a former policeman.

Mr. Hines added in the four years he has been with the company there has been an increase in the number of systems being installed. "Bermuda-wide people are more aware of crime and they are just taking that extra step to protect their investment."

Sergeant Chris Wilcox, the officer in charge of the Crime Prevention Unit, confirmed there had been an increase in calls over the past few months which he said was the norm in the run up to Christmas.

He added the unit exists to assist people in improving home security but that when it comes to neighbourhood watch schemes Bermudians are not very good at keeping them going.

"When neighbourhood watch started in 1983 there were about 60 established groups. I would be surprised if more than a dozen operate now."

He said when areas are experiencing crime waves the interest is there but as soon as it goes away, so do the groups.

Manpower shortages, he added, were not the main reason for people getting in touch and that it was more to do with the perception of crime being greater in people's minds.





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