Suitcase traders are not the cause of the current state of the electronic security market

Dear Editor,

Please allow me to comment on the contents of an article in the Stabroek Business of Friday January 4, titled ‘Security service provider concerned over practices in sector,’ which quoted Mr Ian Caesar, head of Safeway Security. Mr. Caesar’s article had the potential of being a scholarly piece by a seasoned practitioner up until the second paragraph which quoted him as saying that “the security services sector is being compromised by persons who lack the requisite training, qualifications and accreditation.”

I agreed with him until that point. There are four high-end security markets in the Caribbean region, namely the Bahamas and Bermuda which are not really Caribbean states at all, followed by Barbados and Curaçao. There are four high-end security markets in South and Central America, namely, Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica and Uruguay.

These markets are characterized by a high degree of knowledge on the part of consumers. Guyana on the other hand has always been known as a low-end consumer market and a dumping ground for many products, not to mention electronic equipment. In Guyana as in most countries, most items are bought on the basis of price rather than quality, hence the caveat, ‘Let the buyer beware.’

Mr Caesar blames suitcase traders for the current state of the electronic security market; however, the problem is much more complex than what he makes it out to be, and is not caused in the main by suitcase traders, but by the inherent nature of the local security industry and established entities.

Security practitioners are taught to interpret the industrial security environment and adapt to it given the prevailing circumstances. This matrix is made up of the following eight influential factors, namely, physical, economic, political, social, legal, cultural, moral and technological. Many companies which specialize in the sale and installation of electric security gadgets are not trained in the principles of security, hence the resultant problems.

CCTV serves three purposes in security: first to function as a real time security device, secondly as a reactive device and third for forensic purposes. It’s here that most CCTV footage is found woefully lacking. Mr Caesar stopped short of suggesting that what is needed are control mechanisms for the importers and installers of CCTV equipment, and he would have been in order had he done so. However, this would have been risky, as he might have been crossing swords with well established associates.

In a normal society, the government in an attempt to safeguard the public’s interest would have established a lead body made up of suitably qualified persons, to submit memoranda for inclusion into an occupational standard. When approved this would govern the ethical conduct of all persons working in the electronic security industry, as security ethics should apply to the conduct of all security practitioners.

More importantly, there comes a time when a practitioner is required to take a dispassionate look at his profession or industry and make an unbiased analysis, which may serve as a catalyst for improvement.

Yours faithfully,
Clairmont Featherstone

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