Standard Risk: Is Your PMSC Competent?

Published Mar 24, 2014 10:39 AM by The Maritime Executive

By Tony Chattin, Managing Director of MSS Global

Ever wondered whether your Private Security Company is actually any good? What is the standard of your security provision at the point of delivery? The past 18 months has seen the introduction of two key international benchmarks that might help you decide; one centered on the land security environment – ANSI/ASIS PSC 1, and the other directed by the IMO, focused on the delivery of armed guards for the maritime industry – ISO PAS 28007. Driven by the commercial shipping sector with its clear focus on regulation and accountability, and an area of increasing concern amongst US Ship-owners and Operators on the standards of their own private security, is it now time for the US to benefit from the assurance provided through credible and competent third party scrutiny of its Private Maritime Security Companies?

The genesis of ISO PAS 28007 lies in key contributions from across the international maritime and private security industries. As a result of its introduction and recognition by ship owners, charterers, and operators, we are witnessing a tangible ‘professionalizing’ of the private maritime security industry that adopts it as they formalize their role and are held accountable for their responsibilities as key security elements of the supply chain. Increasingly we are seeing a consolidation of the Private Maritime Security Company (PMSCs) sector and the marginalizing of the ‘laptop and cell phone’ PMSC offering. It is this momentum that offers so much potential for the US shipping community by directly linking accountable competence to the US reimbursement scheme captured in US Public Law 112-213.

For Merchant Shipping two crucial mutually supporting strands lie at the heart of this potential. ISO PAS 28007 is part of the wider ISO 28000 ‘security of the supply chain’ family and is born of the IMO’s direction to develop ISO PAS 28007 through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) – so it has a direct resonance with the international shipping industry. The logical relationship emphasizes the mutual reliance, sector specific risks, and supporting responsibilities required by all parties to ensure effective deployment of armed guards on to commercial ships. It forces PMSCs to recognize and consider their operating context – from legal and regulatory, through to client and geography. It covers the full breadth of operations – from strategic planning and understanding of the sector, through to selection and vetting of personnel, and out to physical delivery and support to the Master and crew. In sum – a credible service delivered through effective risk management. 

The second strand focuses on assurance; the PMSC being held to account to deliver against this international benchmark, with oversight achieved for the wider shipping industry through credible and impartial assessment and accredited certification. This assurance requires a unique skill set that the IMO has recognized is beyond the traditional remit and knowledge of the Master – anybody telling you otherwise does not understand the PMSC industry, or inherent risks involved. Accredited Certification Bodies, like MSS Global – a private security sector specialist that actually understands the armed maritime security industry, are best positioned to provide that impartial assurance and hold PMSCs to account against the standards. There is a clear and credible case to make accredited certification an intrinsic requirement for reimbursement under Public Law 112-213. Accredited Certification Bodies offer transparent oversight reinforced by third party accredited certification through ISO and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF); all vital for confidence in the service and the safety of seafarers, all ultimately good for business. 

MSS Global is a specialist UKAS Accredited Certification Body providing assurance of private security companies, including those operating in high-risk markets. MSS Global offer an assurance service to help clients demonstrate a secure business-operating environment in challenging emergent markets. MSS Global has extensive experience working globally across the full breadth of the security arena with local governance and broader partners to deliver credible, impartial assurance of security services in emergent environments across the maritime and land domains against internationally recognized standards. The company was founded by Tony Chattin and Tony Phipps in 2012 and is based in the UK.