1. Introduction: personnel security training

Following a risk assessment, evaluate if it is necessary to employ a guardforce as part of your security plan. It’s important all staff with security responsibilities understand their roles and are properly tasked, trained and participate in regular exercising. Regular briefings should include Standard Operating Procedures, a clear explanation of lines of command and emergency procedures. It is desirable that individuals working in the security industry undergo a structured training program resulting in a recognised qualification. Those staff with a SIA license will have already completed a formal qualification. However, this does not exempt the employer from providing additional training, which may provide further security resilience.

This guidance aims to provide a variety of measures and considerations, which will help you further develop an effective, and security minded organisation.


Personnel security training


Security guardforce

A strong security culture within your organisation, beginning with senior management, will assist your guardforce prepare, disrupt and respond effectively should an incident occur. It is therefore recommended that your security guardforce:

  • understand the importance of situational awareness

  • understand how to identify hostile reconnaissance

  • are able to communicate effectively

  • are able to respond effectively and with confidence when responding to suspicious items, bomb threats and major incidents

It is important that patrol regimes for sites and events look beyond the perimeter before, during and post event, and should, to the observer, be unpredictable. This will complement any security minded communications already in place to deter those conducting hostile reconnaissance. Supervisors are key to ensure high levels of vigilance are maintained throughout the life cycle of an event.

Go to the CPNI Guidance on Professionalising Security webpage.

Key principles of training, developing and maintaining an effective workforce

The majority of personnel will not retain all information given to them. It’s important therefore that training and briefings are regular, clear and appropriate to reinforce key messages and instructions. Skills and knowledge in relation to security can then be developed and maintained. For this purpose, a blended style of learning is shown to be more effective. Begin with a ‘training needs analysis,’ followed by individual training, collective training and rehearsal exercises. Competent people and effective teams are the bedrock of a reliable incident response and can more readily adapt flexibly to the unexpected.

As an organisation, you should have identified the people or department responsible for the development of your security plan. All staff, not just those directly responsible, should have a clear understanding how properly planned security will better protect your business. An effective training plan should support this.


2. Training a workforce to deliver protective security

The following elements should be considered in order to deliver an effectively trained, security-minded workforce:

  • training should be based upon your current policy and standards

  • assess your organisational training requirements based on an assessment of risk and the existing skills of your workforce

  • make sure you provide effective leadership and training for supervisors in order to facilitate on going staff development. This will assist in ensuring people understand their roles in the event of a security incident

  • staff turnover should be taken into account when developing training plans. This will ensure new staff are trained and existing staff receive timely refresher training

  • training plans should ideally look twelve months ahead, building in a time line for initial and refresher training

  • training activity should be flexibly delivered in various formats including within a formal classroom setting, online (either within or outside the workplace), practical scenarios or face-to-face briefings – we all learn differently

  • make sure staff are trained before you put them through rehearsal and validation exercises

  • include counter terrorism awareness training on your organisation’s induction programme. This could be in the form of ACT Awareness eLearning or, for larger organisations, may involve an input from a local Counter Terrorism Security Advisor (CTSA)or Counter Terrorism Awareness Advisor (CTAA)

  • make sure security awareness is included on your staff induction day. Set out your expectations as an employer from the commencement of employment and create a strong security and positive reporting culture within the organisation

  • provide briefings to all personnel with any organisational security updates. This may be supported through your organisation’s intranet site (if available)

  • training should be provided on a continuous basis to prepare staff

An effective security guardforce must be able to demonstrate they can respond effectively to a number of scenarios including:

  • initial actions at a terrorist incident

  • how to build response levels and different activities required should there be an increase in threat

  • how to identify and respond to hostile reconnaissance / suspicious behaviour. This may include appropriate training such as SCaN (See, Check and Notify)

  • how to identify and respond to suspicious items; the application of the HOT protocol (Hidden, Obvious, Typical) and the ‘Four Cs’ protocol (Confirm, Clear, Communicate, Control). Further information can be found in the Suspicious Items chapter of this guidance

  • how to identify and respond to chemical, biological and radiological incidents, using STEPS 123

  • how to identify and respond to a bomb threat

  • how to identify and respond to a marauding terrorist attack (MTA) and the Run Hide Tell principles.

  • evacuation, invacuation and/or lockdown

  • how to search a site effectively

  • patrolling effectively to deter/disrupt hostile activity

  • how and when to report incidents appropriately and to whom

  • the use of incident logs and checklists to ensure an effective response to incidents such as terrorist incidents, bomb threats etc.

  • the requirement to use emergency equipment such as defibrillators etc.


Remember, security is everyone’s responsibility.

For further CPNI guidance and resources in relation to staff security awareness campaigns, go to the CPNI Security Campaigns webpages

3. Supervisor training

Security supervisors are key to a motivated, effective and high performing guardforce. Effective leadership demonstrated by individuals during recent terrorist attacks have saved lives. 

The following factors should be considered when training your security supervisors.


Supervisors training

  • Allocate time to allow supervisors to actively supervise and engage with their teams

  • Provide current information and materials to develop and reinforce learned behaviours, knowledge and skills within their teams

  • Provide leadership, management, mentoring and communication training for supervisors. This will facilitate the development of a diverse workforce and will help improve motivation, loyalty, performance, retention rates and absentee levels

  • Make sure supervisors attend counter terrorism awareness training such as ACT Awareness, ACT Operational and ongoing continued professional development opportunities

  • Make sure supervisors have access to information from the NaCTSO and CPNI websites. This will enable the sharing of current information and guidance within their teams

Quality assuring and developing the workforce

  • Make sure staff understand their roles and responsibilities from a counter terrorism safety and security perspective. A clear definition of roles will enable the effective management of an incident in line with the organisation’s incident management plan. Where staff have attended rehearsal exercises, confidence and competency levels are found to increase

  • Make sure a regular schedule of training and rehearsal exercising. This will assist staff to identify and respond to critical incidents

  • Make sure staff train and upskill regularly. This may include access to online materials to improve knowledge and understanding

  • Make sure staff regularly receive counter terrorism awareness training

  • Supervisors should have a full understanding and record of the skills and qualifications their staff have obtained. The competencies of staff should be regularly reviewed e.g. regular appraisals

  • Regularly remind staff of key principles in order to help them become confident and competent in the identification, challenge and reporting of suspicious behaviour

  • Integrate the CPNI staff vigilance campaign with corporate security minded messaging. This will assist in the engendering of a healthy workplace security culture

  • Provide first aid training for your staff; this will enable them to be responsive and competent in the event of an incident, including in the use of emergency equipment e.g. defibrillators

  • Train and rehearse your staff in relation to your evacuation, invacuation and lockdown procedure. By creating and sharing plans, staff should understand the relevant procedures and what is required of them within their role

  • Make sure any changes made to an organisation’s security plan, policies or procedures are shared/cascaded by supervisors

  • Consider mentoring/coaching staff. This will reinforce positive behaviours, particularly within the context of the organisation’s security plan


4. Further Resources

You may wish to the complete the ETHANE checklist

Read more about Unattended and Suspicious Items

Read more about CBR attacks

Personnel Security
Hiring security
Security Culture
Security Professional
PALs Guidance
publicly accessible places
publicly accessible locations
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