Friday 6 December 2013

Private security firms score poorly in police audit

By Feng Zengkun, The Straits Times, 4 Dec 2013

PRIVATE security firms have performed poorly again in an annual audit carried out by the police.

It awarded 50 per cent of the 251 assessed companies with the lowest grades of C and D, up from 45 per cent of 256 graded firms last year.

Getting a C grade indicates a firm’s performance was only satisfactory; a D means it was unsatisfactory.

Several firms told The Straits Times that the assessment may have been more stringent this year. Last year, workers at a security firm which received an A grade later accused the firm of not paying them their wages on time.

Mr Robert Weiner, president of the Association of Certified Security Agencies, which represents more than 100 firms, added that there may have been a greater emphasis on the employees’ wages.

The National Trades Union Congress has set minimum pay benchmarks in sectors such as cleaning, transport and hotel, but talks with security associations here to raise the industry’s basic pay have yet to yield results.

A security officer’s monthly basic salary of $800 continues to be $200 less than what a cleaner gets.

The audit was introduced in 2006 and made mandatory three years later to help customers gauge a firm’s quality.

Only newly licensed companies are exempted.

Since 2009, about 250 agencies have been graded each year. Those getting Cs and Ds usually make up between 40 and 45 per cent each year. This proportion hit 50 per cent in 2011, the same result as this year.

Another firm that declined to be named said the construction boom in recent years may have worsened the manpower shortage in the industry.

It moved from a C grade last year to a B this year, partly by offering clients more technology- based options such as the ability to remotely view security camera footage.

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