Before we discuss the details of the topic, it is important that we understand the thin difference between Safety and Security.
Safety has more to do with preventive measures. The housing society has and maintains fire alarms, water sprinklers etc, CCTV cameras with one dedicated person 24 x 7 to watch them and take action in a control room, hygiene, fence on periphery of the complex, covered water lids, protocol for opening and closing terrace door, emergency exit route and map on each floor, regular mock drill to use safety equipment, sufficient light at night in public area like garden, parking, etc.
Security is an ongoing exercise. This includes sufficient man power to do all aspects of day to day work to ensure owners, tenants and visitors are safe, their movable or immovable assets are safe, if any suspicious activity is observed, corrective action taken with zero or bare minimum loss.
A Security Agency has a different structure of salary and service. We need to be very clear on this. What we see and address as Security Agency and their manpower is actually Attendants. Therefore, our expectations from the person wearing uniform and sold to us is not Security Guard. He is just an attendant. Most of these manpower are not fit enough to even run half a kilometer. Their salaries are not upto the mark and if you notice they do double shifts at times.
A legal Security Agency would have license from the State Government under The Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005.
Having explained this the first and foremost for both Safety and Security is the role of Managing Committee (MC). Most of the time the MC may not be competent to understand all functions at micro level. They can either hire a consultant or use the simple and best option of asking the owners in complex for help. Some MC members may be experienced in society matters and requirement. Learning is everyday process and no one becomes small if they take inputs. It’s a collective effort to have the best in each housing society. However, if they choose to go ahead with limited knowledge then there is little that can be done.
It is always better to be proactive than reactive. There is no point blaming the Police and then the Insurance company and many others in the system. Our Police needs to be respected for the amount of work they do despite barriers. There are simple process that the Police station across India expects us to implement. Basic and most important one is Police Verification. If security agency in your housing society has deployed manpower without Police Verification then this is the first breach of Security.
Though technically speaking the MC is responsible for everything that goes on in the society. It would be better if the residents don’t burden the MC members with too much of expectations. It is advisable to come forward and assist the MC members in matters they have little knowledge. The MC members too need to understand ignorance of law can’t be a excuse.
As an owner in the housing society you need to know the simple way to ensure safety and security. Security agency are integral part of the housing society and we bank on them for multiple things. Their services include manning the entry exit gate (for visitors and residents), generator, water tankers movement, overhead tank, routine visitors like electrician, plumbers, documents distribution, etc.
When the security guards are doing all these jobs, by default they interact with the residents in the complex and get to understand their movements to a large extent. We keep reading about theft, murder, chain snatching kind of serious issues. With this in mind we need to ask for the following from our MC in case you have any concern or doubt:
Credentials of the security agency, Manpower strength, Number of manpower to be deployed in your complex during day and night time, Weekly off pattern and back up for replacement in case someone is absent or on long leave, Don’t go for the age, go for alertness of the security guard deployed in your complex, What training is given by the agency before deployment (video proof the guards being trained), Specific site instruction of your entire complex that would be used as SOP, If there is history of anti social elements coming or theft in your complex then a Threat Perception Audit and necessary SOP accordingly is important.
I shall share just one case that made headlines across India. Recollect one security guard firing at another security guard posted on duty at Shahrukh Khan’s bunglow. The security guard who fired came to Mumbai just a day before from his native place and he was posted at Mannat by a leading security agency. Imagine if this can happen at a premium place like Bandra and with a celebrity then what lethargic attitude the agency would have for middle income group housing society. We need to remain vigilant and take proactive measures and compel the MC members to do the needful. In case of eventuality the Police will definitely round up the security agency staff and owners, they would also ask uncomfortable questions to the MC as well.
Lavish parties, festival celebration and other entertainment can wait, not safety and security.
You may like to read my earlier article.