A Day in the Life of Britomart Security
Ask Britomart Security supervisor Shane Russell to sum up what his team does all day and he laughs. A job as varied as theirs – keeping the entire precinct safe, clean and orderly around the clock – defies a single-sentence summary.
“Every day is different!” says Shane. “We just take each day as it comes.”
There are the obvious security responsibilities like monitoring CCTV cameras, deterring shoplifters and vandals and defusing late-night trouble outside the bars.
Then there’s the important contractor liaison role: monitoring the many workers who come in and out of Britomart in a typical day. The security team needs to know exactly which contractors are entitled to be in the precinct so they can spot anything amiss.
And of course there’s the unpredictable stuff, like dealing with sleeping vagrants, smart arses who decide to take the bean bags for a walk and the occasional skateboarder cracking his head open – “I could write a book!” says Shane.
Security patrols 24/7
The Britomart Security team works 12-hour shifts, tag-teaming to ensure the precinct is patrolled by up to four security guards 24 hours a day. It’s one of the perks of being supervisor that Shane doesn’t do many night shifts these days, but he’s done his fair share in his time. So what gets a security guard through a long night on duty?
“Lots of patrols!” says Shane. “I’m an outdoor person, which helps. There’s a minimum number of patrols we’re required to do on a shift, but I just get out there as often as I can.”
Shane estimates that he spends at least nine hours of a 12-hour shift simply walking the beat. He varies his route frequently, doubling back, mixing up his routine to avoid being predictable.
Being constantly out there means he can quickly spot and head off any brewing trouble or suspicious activity, or detect damage fast enough to alert police and find the culprit.
It’s also important for businesses to be able to see him and know he’s never far away. He frequently calls into shops and restaurants on his rounds, checking if tenants have any issues to report. Often people will see him walking past and pop out to share information.
It’s this relationship aspect of the role that Shane especially likes: getting to know the folks in the neighbourhood. “I’m a people person, which everyone on this team needs to be,” he says. “We’re the face of Britomart, we’re letting people know they’re safe and they can come and talk to us any time.”
Because the businesses know the security team, they’re very quick to pick up the phone in the event of an incident, which helps the apprehension rate.
“For something like shoplifting, we’ll get a call from a retailer with a description of the person and what direction they were going in. We’ll head straight over there, walk the precinct, see if we can spot them and then approach them. We’ll tell them they’ve been caught on CCTV and often we can get the goods back on the spot.”
A new text alert system will enable offender descriptions and movements to be broadcast instantly to all retailers, making it even more difficult for thieves to hit multiple shops in the precinct.
There are 36 cameras in the Britomart area, with more due to go in around the new development at the centre of the precinct. Recently a visitor’s dropped iPhone was quickly recovered when an opportunist pocketing it was identified and located via surveillance camera footage.
Inevitably, Shane has been on the receiving end of some aggression over the years – something that goes with the security-guard territory. He’s become pretty skilled at knowing when to intervene and when to keep his distance.
All the Britomart Security team are trained in police restraint and self-defence techniques. But they also work closely with police and get swift backup from local officers if things do get messy.
A phone call away
For the Britomart community, assistance is only a phone call away day or night. The Britomart Security mobile is manned 24/7 and security team members are in constant radio contact. At night they often get calls from people working late asking to be walked to their cars, which the team are always happy to do.
“Britomart is a very safe and clean environment,” says Shane. “That’s one reason why businesses want to come to the precinct, they do their research first.”
So what does he see as the main mission of the job?
“Customer service!” he says, without hesitation. And he’s not just thinking of the Britomart businesses and regulars that he deals with every day.
“The customer is anyone who enters the precinct. It’s important for them to know that we’re friendly and helpful and here to look out for them.”
53 Galway Street, Britomart
T 021 550 719 (24 hours)
Created 18 July 2012