Security in Papua New Guinea moving beyond ‘Guards, Gates and Guns’ says Black Swan’s Kelly

Welcome,

The CEO of expanding security firm Black Swan International, Brian Kelly, believes a successful long-term approach to security involves decreasing risk, decreasing costs and increasing productivity. He speaks to Business Advantage PNG.

Black Swan International's Brian Kelly

Black Swan International’s Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly left the Australian Army in 2000 after serving for 15 years, mainly in the elite Special Forces.

After a stint working in the United States, that included learning about casino security in Las Vegas, Kelly worked in private security roles in Australia before setting up Black Swan International in PNG in 2011.

Growth

Black Swan has quickly grown into a full-service security firm that employs up to 1000 staff, runs a fleet of 100 vehicles and even has its own dedicated radio frequency spectrum.

Kelly’s aim for Black Swan has always been to expand the idea of ‘security’ beyond what he calls ‘the basic three Gs: Guards, Gates and Guns’,

‘If someone rings up and asks “how much an hour do you charge for security guards?”, I’m not interested,” Kelly tells Business Advantage.

‘However, if someone says “these are the problems we’re experiencing, how can you help us solve them?”, that’s when we get involved, providing tailored solutions instead.’

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Three outcomes

Black Swan looks to achieve three things for all its clients, Kelly says.

‘To decrease risk, decrease costs, and increase productivity. If we don’t think we can achieve these three outcomes, we won’t go for the job.’

‘If someone rings up and asks “how much an hour do you charge for security guards?”, I’m not interested. However, if someone says “these are the problems we’re experiencing, how can you help us solve them?”, that’s when we get involved’

Black Swan has the range of staff, equipment and expertise to handle anything from one-on-one supervision of a visiting VIP to overseeing procedures to enhance the security and productivity of a multi-site company.

Cultural change

For Kelly, the main task of Black Swan is not about shows of force but assisting clients to change cultures and procedures.

For example, he says that if there is internal fraud or theft ‘you can sack as many staff as you like but nothing will change until you change the culture of a workplace’.

Kelly believes that a lot of the workplace crime in PNG is due to poor standards.

‘Businesses often have no anti-fraud procedures, no anti-theft devices. We work with them to change the culture of the company to improve security.’

He says ‘shrinkage’ has long been seen as inevitable or taken for granted, but as the PNG economy grows and the businesses that serve it become bigger, it becomes more serious.

Black Swan’s main goal is to help clients change their culture to ‘get risk as low as practical’ and to discourage them spending big money on aspects of security that aren’t benefiting their bottom line.

Black swanFirst responders

Kelly is adamant that ‘security are not police, security are first responders.’

The role of a firm such as Black Swan is not that of law enforcement, ‘but we can perform internal investigations and then hand over our results to police for further action’.

‘Law and order and security are still seen as the number-one risk for businesses operating in PNG,’ Kelly says.

‘The main risks in PNG include car-jackings, armed robberies, domestic violence and, within businesses, internal crime.’

PNG challenges

However, he believes that these factors are not unique to PNG, and in some ways the security environment in PNG is not as challenging as in other parts of the world.

‘There is currently no terrorism threat in PNG, no serious criminal gangs with links to the international underworld, no outlaw motorcycle gangs.

While Black Swan works with clients all over PNG, Kelly tells Business Advantage that currently the business is predominantly operating in Port Moresby. The next step is to expand across PNG.

‘The main risks in PNG are antisocial elements, domestic violence and, within businesses, internal crime… and in some ways the security environment in PNG is not as challenging as in other parts of the world.’

Black Swan is in the process of building permanent barracks for up to 500 staff and is establishing a security training academy to increase its capacity.

‘We don’t outsource anything. We’re a one-stop shop. We run a 24/7 vehicle maintenance workshop, all staff wear our uniforms, and we provide all our own technology.

‘At the end of the day,’ says Kelly, ‘the PNG security situation continues to be complex and ever-changing. We want our clients to concentrate on running their businesses and to entrust us with planning their security needs.’

Comments

  1. Fred Duguma says

    Astounding and innovative concept of understanding. It is simply a common sense of we png citizens to assess and more significantly respect one and other following right protocols. Physically abusing people with harse treatment is not acceptable behaviour. Security personnel are amicable given full proper training in handling situations.

  2. Paul Amatio says

    The security industry, as Brian Dyson says, is massive in PNG. The problem lies with the service providers (firms), the service receivers (clients) and the State.
    All are equally culpable.
    There are many firms out there whose owners have no background in security, law enforcement or any other field except in counting coins. these firms have no interest in what Brian Kelly is proposing. They wouldn’t understand or recognise one end of a CCTV camera from the other.
    Also there are client, especially locally owned businesses and Asian operated ones, who only want to have someone with a uniform at the door for whom they can pay a pittance (always below the minimum wages laws).
    And then we have the State which has not shown any inclination towards revamping the outdated and toothless Security industry Act. To rub in further salt, the Security Industries Authority is practically powerless to enforce the laws as they have to go through some convoluted process of meetings and hearing to enforce discipline on companies that are in breach of the Act.
    Until and unless we have these laws revamped and the enforcement agency appropriately strengthened in terms of enforcement laws, there will always be companies out there who will be satisfied with providing second class services to the majority while the few who can afford it will have the services of companies like Black Swann and G4S.
    I suggest that the serious players in the industry meet the regulating authority and discuss ways of lobbying the government to update and amend the legislation so that it is more appropriate and supportive of the industry rather than one which encourages every fly by night operator to start a security company.

  3. Bob McGlynn says

    Brian Kelly has a good idea about changing the clients mindset. Its not the security firm that should just be guarding but the client as well. The client is ultimately responsible for their own business performance and any losses which affect that. The client needs to adapt to the current climate and adapt to the many and varied aspects of security that are available.
    Brian Dyson makes some good points in his reply but the points he makes are not an instant fix. The amount of small security companies with untrained personnel on their books certainly allows the “vicious circle to self perpetuate” and needs to be addressed by a set of enforceable national standards that apply to all in the security industry. […]

  4. Peter MisionYaki says

    Spot on Brian Dyson. We need a shift in mindset

  5. Brian Dyson says

    The massive private security industry in PNG does far more harm than good. It has turned into a self perpetuating vicious circle and breeds far more crime than it prevents. Along with the razor wire fences the security industry needs to go and control handed back to the Police. The Police need to step up and away from tribalism and petty corruption with better training and pay. The Church leaders need to focus on their people, not themselves. Start with this truth, cleanliness in next to godliness, if every congregation spent an hour each week making Moresby a more liveable city there would be a mind shift overnight and tourism and jobs would soon follow.

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