Private security provisions for the protection of Critical Infrastructure unanimously approved in CEN TC 439

Too often, public and private buyers of private security services go for a cost-centric approach instead of best value, without much consideration for quality. While this approach can’t be recommended for any location, it is even worse when this is what guides the buyer’s choice to protect a Critical Infrastructure. The CEN Technical Committee (TC) 439 “Private Security Services” recently unanimously adopted a European Standard for the protection of Critical Infrastructure – a crucial step to support operators in controlling the quality of private security providers and in applying a best value approach in their procurement practices. CoESS hopes that European Parliament and Council will consider the Standard when amending the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on the Resilience of Critical Entities.

CEN TC 439 was set up in 2015 to the request of CoESS in order to become the sole TC within CEN to produce and maintain standards in the area of private security. Three standards already existed at that time, namely a Terminology standard (EN 15602), a standard for the providers of Private Security Services in Aviation and Airports (EN 16082) and a similar one for Maritime/Port Security Services (EN 16747).

The intention for the set-up of CEN TC 439 was to put all existing standards under the same TC and to complete EU legislation and fill any gaps regarding the provision of quality services in specific areas except for general guarding services, for which national legislation exists in the Member States. The Standardisation work within CEN TC 439 is an important effort to drive high-quality services in the private security sector, and support buyers in recognising qualitative providers.

As the work progressed, the TC decided to create an umbrella standard for Critical Infrastructure, completed with sector-specific ones. The umbrella Critical Infrastructure Standard, EN17483-1, has now been unanimously adopted and is meant to be a certifiable standard. It lists quality criteria for (1) the provider’s structure; (2) contracts; (3) staff; and (4) service delivery.

Catherine Piana, Director General of CoESS and re-elected Chair of CEN TC 439 for another three years, is very proud of the work done within CEN TC 439 and calls on an effective promotion of the Standard by various stakeholders: “The unanimous adoption of EN17483-1 underlines the high quality of the standard and its appreciation by a large stakeholder group. It is now up to security companies operating in a Critical Infrastructure environment to get certified; and to buyers to recognise the value of certified companies for the resilience and business continuity of Critical Infrastructure; and to legislators to pro-actively promote the use of European and International Standards such as EN17483-1 not only for the protection of Critical Infrastructure, but the security of European citizens at large. CoESS will play its part in this promotion, not only internally among members, but also in our engagement with the European Institutions and other stakeholder organisations.”

CoESS requests in its recent position paper on the European Commission proposal for a Directive on the Resilience of Critical Entities that only certified companies should be able to provide private security services in Critical Infrastructure. To this end, the Directive should enforce efficient quality control of private security providers and promote the use of Standards to this end. The now adopted Standard will be the best way to meet this expectation and also responds to the European Parliament’s call on the European Commission to propose a European Certification Initiative for private security companies operating within the Critical Infrastructure environment.

As any CEN standard, the Standard was elaborated by a well-balanced set of stakeholders, including the representation of Trade Unions. It was reviewed by the whole Standardization community, giving an opportunity to a wide set of specialists to contribute. It shall be completed by future EN 17483-2 on Aviation Security (integration and update of EN16082); EN 17483-3 on Maritime Security (integration and update of EN16747); and other business environments such as energy, transport and healthcare/hospitals. 

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash