How High Vis took over Britain – a view from the BBC

Since arriving in Britain almost five decades ago, high-visibility jackets have become inescapable. Is this a blessing or a curse?

It is impossible to ignore – and that’s the very point.

Bright, synthetic and, above all, cheap, the ubiquity of high-visibility clothing means that it surely symbolises the Britain of 2010s in the same way that miniskirts summed up the 1960s.

In the past, “high-vis” was associated with hazardous occupations – the emergency services as well as road and rail maintenance workers. Now it is just as likely to adorn security guards, cyclists, car park attendants and joggers – an all-purpose symbol of both authority and safety-first caution.

Kent County Council is the latest authority to promote its use, heralding its 120 “walking buses” in which children make their way to school together on foot clad in high-visibility gear. UK workwear specialists Red Oak Direct say sales of its high-visibility gear rose 22% in 2008/9 and 26% in 2009/10.

To critics, it symbolises everything that is wrong about mollycoddled, risk-averse, health-and-safety-obsessed modern Britain.

But enthusiasts point to its success in reducing traffic accidents and making the jobs of thousands of workers much safer.

What is perhaps most significant, however, is the manner in which this mass-produced garment, available from pound shops the length and breadth of the country, has come to lend its wearers the mantle of officialdom, licensed to give orders by virtue of their outerwear.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote
It has become this symbol of spurious authority”
End Quote
Rod Liddle

Sunday Times
The unquestioning deference offered by it is satirised by that ever-reliable source of social commentary, Birkenhead-based indie band Half Man Half Biscuit, in the song King of High Vis.

Its lyric tells the story of a man who blags his way into music festivals and sporting events without a ticket by donning a fluorescent tunic: “Hard hat, tabard, torch and cocky toolbag / I’m Dave the Spark, or I could be Mike / Paramedics, police, authorised and holy / Be safe, be seen, be anyone you like.”

For this reason, high-visibility wear is loathed by Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle, who found that passers-by obeyed orders barked by him after he donned a fluorescent waistcoat for a feature.

“It has become this symbol of spurious authority,” he says.

“I find it totally bizarre and depressing that people will do what you tell them as long as you’re wearing high-vis. Like CCTV, it sums up how compliant we’ve become.”

Nonetheless, the UK’s attachment to the fabric is mild compared to that of France and Italy, where motorists are compelled to carry high-visibility clothing in their vehicles in case of a breakdown. In France, cyclists are compelled to wear such attire at night.

It may not be fashionable, but safety campaigners say bright clothing is a life-saver It was invented by an American, Bob Switzer, whose ambitions of becoming a doctor ended when he was injured in an industrial accident during the 1930s. While recuperating, he developed a fluorescent paint before fashioning the first item of high-visibility clothing from his wife’s wedding dress.

High-vis first came to the UK in 1964 when it was trialled by railway maintenance workers in Glasgow. The 1974 Health and Safety At Work Act and 1992’s Personal Protective Equipment At Work regulations – both of which required bosses to guard against potential industrial hazards – ensured its proliferation.

It was not only in the workplace that high-vis took off. An influential 1981 US study found that two-thirds of crashes between motorcycles and cars took place when the car driver failed to see the approaching bike, and safety campaigners have long urged pedestrians, cyclists and all other road users to don clothing that is as bright as possible.

No-one, however, has ever argued that the look is chic. In 2008, the designer Karl Lagerfeld appeared in a French public information campaign attired in a fluorescent waistcoat above the slogan: “It’s yellow, it’s ugly, it doesn’t go with anything, but it could save your life”.

Julian Bennett, fashion expert and former presenter of the UK version of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, concedes that fluorescent overcoats are hardly likely to ever dominate the catwalk.

But he says its effectiveness at keeping its wearers safe means it will always be popular.

“It’s just not fashionable,” he says. “It’s a stay-safe colour.

“But in terms of reducing the accidents, we know it works. Drivers don’t always look. If you ride a motorbike or a bike, you want to be seen. If you’re a parent, you know it’s dark in the winter at 4:30 in the evening when your kids are walking home.”

Some may hate it. But for others, high-vis will always induce a warm glow

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Summer Newsletter

Profile Security Services Newsletter

It’s out – our bumper Summer edition. Please distribute as applicable.

Do you know someone in it? Have you entered the prize draw?


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Seeing is believing: Profile tops ACS pyramid

Profile Security Services Limited is edging ever closer to the top of the ACS pyramid, thanks to an audit score of +108 which sees the company claim a coveted spot among the top 5% of security firms in the UK for the first time. The result is all the more remarkable as standards across the Security Industry are on the up. Evidence of the improvement came recently when the Approved Contractor Scheme’s Pacesetters scheme (which represents the cream of firms in the UK) raised its membership criteria. To make the country’s top 15% benchmark, the bar has jumped from a score of +74 to +86.

The latest figures published on 13th May also reveal that with around 2,000 companies operating in the security guarding industry, some 711 have now achieved ACS status, up from 670 last year. But as firms raise their game though the introduction of new practices, the diagram below also emphasises how there is still a significant gulf between the very best and the rest.

To find out more, visit

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The Security Industry Authority released their new ACS scores on the 13th May 2011 which shoes the 5 year success of the Approved Contractor Scheme the improved scores achieved by the member companies during their annual inspection by their appointed UKAS body.

The SIA estimate that there are currently 2000 companies operating in the security guarding industry and 711 have achieved ACS status. Profile Security Services Limited has achieved an ACS score of 108 and as the attached graph shows, this puts us in the top 5% of guarding companies in the UK.
sia pyramid 31 3 11

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Event Security

Permanent or temporary, theme parks and exhibitions call for a special mix of security solutions,. Mitigating the risks while making priceless exhibits accessible to the public calls for a delicate balance.

Permanent or temporary, theme parks and exhibitions call for a special mix of security solutions and with such a diverse range of events requiring different types of security personnel Profile Security has it covered from the turnstiles to the souvenir shop.  Working in conjunction with event and visitor attraction Management companies we provide expert security advice to afford peace of mind and crucially a safe and secure event.

Turnstile operators will utilise a scanning machine to authenticate tickets and allowing visitors to the event through the turnstiles.  Additional security officers will then perform pat-down searches to ensure that no undesirable items are concealed and we can also utilise sniffer dogs to conduct passive searches for narcotics and explosives.

Any visitor refusing to be searched could be denied entry by the security team, however we agree an escalation procedure with the management company prior to commencing services Profile security can also provide crowd management and liaison with external agencies such as the Police, Fire, and Safety experts.

To underpin our event management we can also provide security response teams to assist with any incidents in a professional and coordinated manner.  All events require a safety officer who can be provided by Profile Security.  Our Safety Officers will attend to first aid, health and safety, public safety and public liability requirements thus providing a total security solution for any event and visitor attraction.

Preventing theft or acts of vandalism often sees Profile Guards working in places that were not designed to welcome large numbers of visitors such as stately homes. Indoors and outdoors, time and again, our unobtrusive security professionals prove they are just the ticket.

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The most likely terrorist target in the maritime world

Following 11 September 2001, the US government mobilised a team of intelligence and maritime industry experts to the most likely terrorist target in the maritime world. It was concluded that cruise ships, more than cargo ships, tankers or ferries, are the most attractive target to terrorists. Cruise ships often sail to remote ports that specialise in cargo rather than passenger operations and in developing countries security is not the same as at Western ports.

A follow up re-evaluation of the threat by law enforcement and intelligence agencies led to a different conclusion in that cruise ships are less attractive to terrorists than originally thought and are better protected than any other ships.

All cruise liners carry security officers as part of their crew; many, but not all, are armed. As terrorist attacks on cruise liners, are extremely The US Coast Guard surveyed 1,900 investigations of cruise ship facilities from 2006 to 2009 and found 347 security deficiencies. The Coast Guard also assessed more than 1,500 inspections of foreign-flag cruise ships and discovered 18 security-related deficiencies.

Oil rigs, ferry and freight companies, shipping agencies and port authorities around Britain call on Profile Security to meet their stringent standards. Working with Special Branch and the Border & Immigration Agency within the framework set by the regulatory body (TRANSEC), our drills and skills touch on all aspects of maritime traffic in and out of our shores. X-ray screening, searches, sniffer dogs preventing smuggling – it’s all in a day’s work for Profile’s Award Winning Security Management team.

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Corporate fraud and corporate identity theft

Corporate fraud and corporate identity theft have become increasingly more common and  Companies House estimate that corporate ID theft is costing British business as much as £50m a year.

The true figure however could be much higher, with average losses to victims of corporate identity theft around £2m for each case. Statistics also suggest that more than 80% of corporate fraud is committed by existing employees, which is very worrying indeed.

The majority of fraud cases are uncovered by accident, and often when it’s too late. That’s why at Profile Security we place as much emphasis on prevention as we do on recovery.

Of course prevention is better than cure but so many corporate businesses are reactive, why? Well there is the “it will not happen to our business approach”, lack of time to be proactive and the lack of drive from senior management for risk audits to be carried out.

For our existing clients audit and examine, ring-fence and upgrade, then re-examine – systems, people, processes, supply chains and more we provide each client with specific indicators which can be monitored to spot trouble.

If what you suspect has already happened, we’ll investigate – covertly and discreetly – until we identify the source of the problem. As well as tracing missing funds and assets, Profile security will protect your brands and intellectual property by going after product counterfeiters, tracing patent and trade mark infringements.

As a leading provider of security guarding and investigation services, Profile has solutions delivered by experts to help businesses assess, monitor and prevent corporate fraud.

Take action

There are a few things you can do now that really is just best practice and housekeeping. For example: Control who has access to equipment, documents and computers to prevent unauthorised use. Train your staff in your security systems and your disciplinary policies and procedures. Divide duties between staff so any irregularities will be spotted and introduce appropriate supervisory and monitoring controls. Random spot checks are effective at preventing fraud.

Sometimes the way people behave might be giveaways that they are committing a fraud. . Although by themselves they may not be any cause for concern, a few of the points below put together might be enough to cause concern.

Such indicators might be changes in behaviour, large personal debts or financial losses. Your audit findings show errors or irregularities and look out for transactions taking place that were at an odd time, odd frequency, and unusual amount or to odd recipients. Identify internal controls that are not enforced, or often compromised by higher authorities and check for missing inventory or physical assets.  The list of indicators is almost endless but with an audit from Profile Security you can be assured of peace of mind and support when you need it most.

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Security measures we have in place now need constant revision!

Following the announcement by President Barack Obama that Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has been killed by US forces in Pakistan, the BBC‘s guest columnist Ahmed Rashid says Bin Laden’s death is a huge blow to extremists, but al-Qaeda today is “loose and amorphous” Ahmed Rashid went on to warn: “The fear now of random suicide bombings in subway or train stations in the US or Europe is particularly high”.

There will be much debate, news and comment on today’s breaking news but one thing of which you can be certain, terrorist tactics will evolve and change over time a fact that has been proven by many organisations over the years who have tried to find a way through the defences of their chosen target.

Protecting the public, staff and business to stop terrorists requires all those involved in security to constantly look at the threat picture, understand the motives and the end result that terrorists are looking to achieve.

Security measures we have in place now need constant revision and business should be looking forward at new and innovative ways of reducing risk.  At the heart of our Security Management network is a team of specialists, experts on hand to assist business with their security arrangement.  Our Divisional Directors and their teams can call on these specialists to answer your questions, to offer advice and to pull together best-of-breed security solutions.

Profile Security’s presence nationwide means you can benefit in many ways. In terms of our purchasing power and the efficiencies of scale we bring, and in the way our entire network shares best practice. Contact Us

Together, our Regional Offices cover every corner of the UK mainland, a National Security Network that brings local knowledge and resources into play, responding quickly to routine requests and emergencies.

The UK threat levels for UK and Northern Ireland (at the time of writing this blog) are as follows:

Current threat level – The current threat level from international terrorism is Severe, This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely.

Terrorism related to Northern Ireland.  The threat level for terrorism related to Northern Ireland is set separately for Northern Ireland and Great Britain:

In Northern Ireland it is Severe. This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely.

In Great Britain it is Substantial. This means that a terrorist attack is a strong possibility.

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Nationwide – we’ve got you covered!

Spring is always a good time for looking forward and getting ready for better things to come. It’s traditionally a time for Spring cleaning, makeovers and facelifts.  If the price is that we have to kick up some dust and endure a little pain, Summer will tell you it’s worth the effort. You may be thinking about squeezing into Speedos and bikinis. I was thinking about something else.

While people often ask who looks after your premises, few think to ask who looks after those who look after your premises?  The answer is in Leeds.

Profile’s 24-hour Security Control Room located in Leeds has recently had a welcome make-over with a top-to-toe office refurbishment and some brand new monitoring hardware. The updates follow in the wake of new business wins.

Making the switch and sprucing up Profile’s Help Centre wasn’t as easy as you may think. On call around the clock, there’s never a good time or a right time to interrupt, unplug, bale out and build up.

With some careful planning and a lot of hard work, however, our Leeds team has got the job done with barely a ripple. With all hands to the wheel, even Profile’s own staff dusted off old talents! Control Room Operator Mick Borough surprised the trades with his own skills as an accomplished joiner!

 Coping in a crisis

Central to our Security Control Room’s role is the support the team provides to Profile Managers and all our Security Officers – not just in Leeds, but up and down the country. As well as fulfilling and reporting on routine tasks such as Officers booking on and off shift, our Leeds hub is central to Profile’s Business Continuity Strategy. If ever key staff at our regional offices are not available to tackle a crisis, our Security Control Room can make the right calls at the most senior level.

 In touch

The centre provides Profile clients with remote CCTV monitoring, with feeds automatically triggered and sent from every corner of the UK. Linked to the Emergency Services, our eagle-eyed operators can make sure Police, Fire and Rescue get to the scene within minutes.

Our national Control Room has two digital exchanges, each able to handle 500 calls simultaneously. This provides automated call-forwarding and messaging services. Our 24-hour teams can also take calls from Officers and members of the public, providing practical support and the answers they need.

 Tap on the back

Our Leeds staff also look after Lone Worker Protection, taking and making supervisory calls, logging incidents and dealing with unexpected situations. Using the latest technology, we can listen in to sites hundreds of miles away, scan them with our remote monitoring cameras, and even talk to intruders when we spot them. It’s like a tap on the back coming from 500 miles away!

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