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Author: George Oliver

gallowglass security street patrols

Street Patrols: Your street patrol questions, answered.

Gallowglass Security has been offering street patrols through its property division for many years. They are an effective deterrent against illegal activity, vandalism and damage to an area. They also act as support to the local police force and homeless charities. Over the course of our streets have seen significantly less footfall. As a result property owners and communities have called upon our services.

Our Head of Property, George Oliver, answers Gallowglass Security’s top 5 frequently asked questions, giving you the who, the what, the when, the why and the how.

WHAT ARE STREET PATROLS?

Street Patrols are made up of a two-man foot patrol team who are dedicated to a small area such as a retail stretch or a Business improvement district (BID). The team patrol the area providing help and support to all visitors to the area.

Our security officers engage with retailers, supporting in incidents such as shop lifting, direct outreach services to those sleeping rough and liaise and maintain a strong working relationship with local dedicated ward officers from the police services. We provide the local force with local intelligence, collecting CCTV and providing reports. This reduces pressure on their services and increases crime prevention.

WHAT DOES A STREET SECURITY TEAM DO?

Their first responsibility is customer service to all visitors to an area. We are often the first people that visitors interact with, and we are also a point of contact for tenants on behalf of landowners. Therefore, we reflect our client and are there to support and relay information to management teams to make strategic decisions.

During lock down these have been a huge support to property and portfolio managers, providing them with valuable real-time intelligence from the ground.

WHY DO YOU NEED STREET PATROLS?

The urban policing structure has changed. Although the numbers of dedicated ward officers have been maintained their areas of responsibility have increased, therefore their impact has reduced. This has been driven by a focus on counter terrorism and not on neighbourhood policing. This has seen a well-documented rise in street crime, especially on individuals and retailers. Many are targeted for their mobile phones. Street patrols act as a genuine deterrent to this type of behaviour and the improvement in areas where we work can be demonstrated by the metropolitan police own data.

HOW DO STREET PATROLS WORK?

Two-man team focus on a designated area, this can often change throughout a day where they take on specific responsibilities depending on what is required. Typically, retailers require support in the day and restaurant areas need support at lunch and in the evening. The team aim to quickly build rapport with shop managers, restaurant staff and front of house teams in hotel and office sectors. The team visit and collect data and general information which is collated in detailed reports and shared with the client which may be a landowner or a group of local businesses. The data is able to provide information on trends and concerns.

WHAT LICENSES DO STREET PATROL SECURITY HAVE?

All Gallowglass Security team members have a front-line SIA licence and receive a number of valuable training courses including ACT action counters terrorism, identifying vulnerable adults, fire marshalling, health and safety, customer service, and emergency communications. As a result, they are well equipped to manage a range of issues that they may face, seamlessly supporting the police, fire and ambulance services.

Gallowglass are also part of the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS).

HOW MUCH ARE STREET PATROLS?

In isolation, they can be expensive; however, many clients make excellent use of the street patrol officers through adding on ancillary services. We take on several other roles including VPI’s and property inspections, in some cases 40 a week. The real question is how much do street patrols save you in terms of reputation? The nicest parts of town are areas where people want to work, live, shop and visit. As a result, these areas are often targeted by criminals and rough sleepers, which sadly often leads to drug use in the area. Crime can have a hugely damaging effect on an area’s reputation; therefore, street patrols are hugely valuable part of ‘place making’.

The information and data collected by the teams has an enormous value in strategic decision making. The property sector requires significant amounts of investment and through our on the ground insights we have been able to help our property development partners make significant savings, offering a dramatic return on investment.  

Octavia Hill 1838-1912 Social reformer and founder of The National Trust 1a Garbutt Place, Marylebone

During our work we regularly encounter people in far less fortunate situations than ourselves. This has led us to run extended projects with estate clients, Westminster council and outreach teams where we direct and support those living on the street. During COVID there are many who are unaware of how to connect with the wide range of excellent services available to them, making the role of our teams on the ground ever more important. Our work has been varied from specific medium-term projects to ongoing work done by our foot patrol teams in Marylebone and Bloomsbury and also our response teams on a day-to-day basis. Whist visiting the team undertaking our street patrols and property inspections, I spotted the blue plaque of Octavia Hill in Garbutt place. Although she is best known for being a founding member of the national trust her achievements went beyond this and are very relevant today.


Born into a family of strained finances Octavia Hill was unable to complete a formal education. This did not stop her pioneering not only social housing but social work and shaping the modern landscape. She believed that it was impossible to “deal with people and their houses separately” identifying that where and how we live has a direct impact peoples lives.
Octavia Hill worked with ruthless self-discipline and determination, identifying dilapidated housing and worked with private investors to provide sustainable housing for London’s urban poor. The first of which was on Paradise Place in London’s Marylebone, which later changed its name to Garbutt Place where her plaque is today. The buildings were anything but Paradise, most of the stairs and floor boards had been used by the tenants for firewood and were the worst of Victorian slums. She believed in a partnership between tenant and land lord, where there was responsibility to provide quality housing by one and maintenance by the other.


This led here to lay the foundation stones of not only social housing but also social work. Whilst collecting the rent on a weekly basis she used the opportunity to get to know the tenants and develop a community. Her understanding and insight led to the Settlements Movement, founded on her belief that social harmony was only achievable with mixed communities. This would prevent slums and ghetto type areas emerging. As a city London differs from so many around the globe because of this believe in social mixing, even Mayfair one of the most affluent areas in the world has a very significant amount of social housing provided by organisations such as the Peabody Trust.


Her influence is not felt just in London but hold influences worldwide, the Octavia Hill Association of Philadelphia was founded in her memory to provide housing to low and middle income city residents.
Octavia Hill identified a housing need for key workers more than an century before it became a phrase so often used today.

Her influence was not just on the urban and social landscape, fighting to prevent urban sprawl and thus saving both Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields from development. This green space is always of great value to London residents rich or poor but even more so in the currant time of lock down. She is also credited with coining the term “green belt”, a term and idea used and appreciated by all of us.


Her most famous legacy is almost centrally the founding of the National Trust, saving important buildings for the nation. This however is only one part of her incredible achievements on the urban, suburban, rural and social landscape of the UK and beyond.

The father of tropical medicine – Sir Patrick Manson 1844-1922 – 21 Queen Anne Street Marylebone

One of our most interesting and challenging assignments is based in Marylebone on behalf of the Howard de Walden Estate. The teams are tasked with providing street-based security and support services to all tenants and visitors to the area. These include medical facilities on Harley street, a diverse range of retailers on Marylebone High Street and an enviable selection of restaurants on Marylebone Lane. The teams are also there to respond to concerns of residents who call the area home.

Our teams have seen an increase in work load and a changing dynamic during the pandemic, their essential work has been key to supporting all estate users in a way that is beyond simply security. These duties include working with outreach teams to identify and contact rough sleepers to producing detailed vacant property inspections (VPI’s) for buildings temporally closed, giving those working remotely on the ground information quickly for a wide range of scenarios.

Whilst visiting the team it is easy to be intrigued by a great number of blue plaques that dot many of the buildings. One of these plaques is found on 21 Queen Anne Street in memory of a distant cousin of the explorer David Livingstone; Sir Patrick Manson. Born in Scotland, he proved to be gifted, not only at his academic studies but a great number of sports; perhaps most unusually for a Scotsman, even cricket. His ability academically was extraordinary, when he passed his medical degree aged 19, he was still too young to formally graduate.

On graduation he worked for a short time in Durham before moving to Taiwan. This was the start of his world changing research into tropical medicine, the effects of which are still with us today.

After his time in Taiwan, he moved to Amoy on the Chinese coast, where he became fully fluent in Mandarin and began his research into malaria. This is where he made his world changing discovery by identifying the link between malaria and mosquitos.

In 1889 he returned to the UK and took up residence at 21 Queen Anne Street and where his work continued. Joining the royal collage of physicians and becoming a chief medical officer on tropical illnesses to the government, he was also Instrumental in the foundation of The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

This remarkable organisation which he helped create is today providing research, information and on the ground action in the global struggle against COVID19.

Sir Patrick Manson saved countless lives in his own life time, as a result of his research into malaria the numbers of lives saved is countless millions and now nearly 100 years since his death his legacy continues to save many more.

Sir Patrick’s work resonated with us. While Gallowglass Security cannot offer medical expertise, we do support those that can; whether this be supporting the GLA and housing the homeless, working to protect the test facility in Brockwell Park, ensuring the hotels hosting returning travellers are kept safe, or providing expert health and safety advice to up-and-coming events organisations, we are dedicated to helping others, just like Sir Patrick Manson.

Hotel Quarantine Security

During the early stages of the global pandemic and the initial lock downs, Gallowglass Security were tasked with providing services to a large number of hotels in and around London who were providing accommodation to rough sleepers. During this time our front line staff deployed their skills to manage challenges presented by those not only suffering from COVID19 but the support and medical staff who were helping them.

Gallowglass Security’s health and safety and management teams have quickly adapted to the new environment which was changing on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. The Gallowglass Security teams lead by Nick and Peter developed new working practices and protocols to keep not only our team but others as safe as possible during a rapidly unfolding COVID situation.

Situation with the new quarantine hotels, introduced by law on the 15th of February for travellers arriving from 33 “red list” countries, is different however, Gallowglass Security has unique insight on how these hotels can be mobilised and managed going forward. Being one of the few companies who are under the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS), where police Chief Constables can choose to devolve limited powers to companies and staff like ours. This further galvanises our thoughts on how and where our industry can support the UK during the global pandemic.  

Many people have cited the Australian model as one which should be copied in the UK as they have suffered just 28,918 cases. There a number of scientific factors that we do not have the expertise to comment on but facts such as population density and climate is a known factor. For Gallowglass, looking at practicalities of Australian quarantining procedures we offer insights on how these may be carried out in the UK.

The main difference between people travelling to the UK and Australia is the type of transport used. The vast majority of travellers arriving in Australia will do so by air, this makes the logistics of social distancing between arrivals and the general population a simpler task. By comparison in the UK we have far more transport hubs and links, many in major areas of population including train, ferry and airport terminals. This will add an additional layer of complication for those in the UK tasked with mobilisation and deployment.

Australia originally employed private security to guard the hotels, this proved unsuccessful do to the professionalism of the staff deployed. This led the Australian government to use police forces to provide this security service at quarantine hotels. In the UK we are faced with a different set of circumstances however the same problems. Firstly the UK will have different logistical situation, the location of hotels and the way people enter into the country. From a government perspective there is a requirement not only to have more quarantine hotels but spread out over a much larger geographical area. This will still be a requirement if the numbers of arrivals is comparatively small as they cannot be concentrated around a handful of international airports like the Australian model.

The UK already has a much stretched police and armed forces services who may be able to lead on this project however will not be able to staff the whole deployment. The advantage the UK has over Australia is a well-developed and professional private security industry. Gallowglass is one of a handful of CSAS companies who are trained to support and liaise with police during a wide range of scenarios. This affords not only the government but the community as a whole a wider range of resources to draw upon.

There is a huge amount of public approval for the quarantine process, 90% in a recent YouGov poll, this means that there will not only be public opinion but pressure to ensure these hotels are run to the highest professional security standard and why Gallowglass Security is uniquely placed to help.

Gallowglass Security is offering security support to hotels helping foreign and UK nationals arriving back into the UK.

Hotels housing those that need to go into 10 days quarantine require professional, experienced security with a deep understanding of health and safety protocols during COVID.

Using our extensive experience of supporting the Greater London Authority and working with our hotel partners to house the homeless during COVID, we will be supporting hotels that are offering rooms to those going into self-isolation, for those coming from outside of the UK.

If you are interested in Gallowglass Security’s services, support for safeguarding your guests or advice around the appropriate Health and Safety precautions you need to take, please email us on dutyops@galsec.co.uk or call us on 02073 267 840

Front of House; Building Manager; Security Guard: One person, three jobs

Sadly, due to the Pandemic, it is impossible to keep all three roles active. A limited number of staff and visitors are coming into the building; therefore, reception and front of house staff are largely manning empty reception halls. However, checking on the buildings health and ensuring the site is secure remains critical. A burst pipe, running tap, faulty heating system or broken air conditioning units can cause damage to the building and even effect the company’s ability to work remotely, if servers are kept on site.

Asa result, we are seeing increased demand for an individual that can service all three roles; front of house, security and site inspection, at a fraction of the cost.

This has led Gallowglass Security to fill a new and developing service based on our highly experienced and dedicated existing team.

Historically we have always provided more than simply reception or security, many of our team started in security, but have developed significant building management experience as well as Front of House training from our very own, Amr Fadl, a former concierge at The Ritz and Browns Hotel.

While we can provide front of house and security services, we have also trained our team to have a strong technical knowledge and understanding of how buildings work. Through the wider Gallowglass Security team we can pull on resources to solve most problems without fuss.

Our team also has multi building experience and the confidence to start at an unfamiliar property and immediately get to work. They have the expertise to read existing building manuals and standard operating procedures and instinctively know what needs to be delivered and how. They are able to communicate problems to the property manager coherently and effectively. The team can also communicate with contractors regarding remedial work whilst constantly updating the property’s managers.

This unique skill also comes with the added benefit of Gallowglass Security flexibility and response. We are able to deploy with minimal notice and without lengthy minimum contracts. This gives building managers the ability to call on support when and where they most need it for as long or short a time as they require.

Further advantages of the wider Gallowglass Security support comes when things don’t go to plan. When a problem or work overruns we can continue to provide staff. If a leak is not fixed by the end of a shift, we will immediately deploy a fresh team member, we will not simply say “sorry times up I am going home”. We see all our work through to the end.

We offer this service based on years of experience proving the service as reliable, flexible and cost effective for our customers.

2 Bloomsbury Place-Gallowglass new central London hub

Just before Christmas 2020 Gallowglass Security took over the lease of 2 Bloomsbury Place from our long-term client, The Bedford Estate. The location has become a home to our key holding and response teams, providing respite for our foot patrol teams working through the coldest of winter nights and space for our growing enforcement department.

Although the building is brand new to us there have been many fascinating occupants since the first tenant Mary Frankland lived here from 1733 to 1735. At the time the area was known as “Passionate Bloomsbury” on account of the number of artists and writers who lived in the district. The name Bloomsbury is originally derived from Blemund’s Bury, a “bury” being the Saxon term for a manor house.

The house was occupied by from 1736 by lady Jane King before passing to James Booth who lived here for 42 years. Whilst his name is not a famous one his influence at the time was significant. He wrote the will of George the third, advised the Duke of Cumberland, brother of the king, that “in law no king of England has the power to bequeath personal property” after the king had torn up the will of his father George the second.

From 1772 Richard Heron took up occupation describing it “above middle size, well made and of good construction”. In 1776 he would become principal secretary to the lord lieutenant of Ireland, where he was held in high esteem for his “integrity and devotion to duty”.

In 1786 a more recognisable name of Richard Ryder took up residence, a royal master carpenter who gave his name to Ryder Street in St James’s as he over saw its construction.

By 1841 the house was used by a charity called the Corporation of the Sons of Clergy which had been established in 1655 by royal charter during the reign of Charles the second. The charity gave pensions and donations to the widows of clergymen and provided education to their children.

This was not the last philanthropic organisation to be based at 2 Bloomsbury Place, in 1885 the Cholmondeley Charities took occupation. A wonderful anecdote from that time was the occasion Lord Cholmondeley was visited at 2 Bloomsbury Place by a famous confidence trickster called Horatio Bottomley. The fraudster made the mistake of pronouncing his lordships name phonetically, the butler advised the miscreant that “chumleigh” was the correct way to address Lord Cholmondeley. To which Bottomley retorted “I see, in that case perhaps you would tell his lordship that Mr Bummerley is here to see him”.

By 1920, 2 Bloomsbury Place became exclusively used for commercial activities, these have included a firm of watch importers, a lady named Millauro who specialised in the manufacture of glass eyes, and the press and public relations specialists, Richman and Associates. It is our turn to write a new footnote in this building’s wonderful history.

Vacant Property Inspections (VPIs) in the time of Covid

As a result of the national lockdowns, offices have closed, retail properties are vacant and homeowners have deserted their city properties. Consequently, restaurants have closed their doors, retailers have moved online and the once busy city is empty, creating an unprecedented demand for VPIs.

What does VPI mean?

The term VPI stands for Vacant Property Inspections and in the last year it has become necessary for a far broader range of properties than it did pre-COVID-19.

Many of you may not be familiar with the term VPI, or the practical benefits of a regular vacant property inspection, but it may well effect you. A VPI is critical to property insurance providers, property managers, retail property owners and managers, office managers, building supervisors and even homeowners.

When a property is left unoccupied it may suffer damage, be vandalised even become occupied by squatters, leading you to call on your insurance provider to help resolve the issue. Issues such as fire caused by arson, damp caused by a leaking pipe, burglary due to a weak lock or broken window, squatters or even theft of the contents of the building are worryingly common side-effects of leaving a property empty.

Do I need to inspect my vacant property?

Unfortunately for many, in the event that you do not undertake a regular VPI, your insurance provider can reject any claim you make on the above issues, even if you feel it is covered by your agreement.

A large number of insurance providers expect a property to be inspected a minimum of once a week, checking for a range of issues and providing evidence that such an inspection has taken place. In some cases, without proof, insurance providers do not have to honour a repayment to the customer in the case of damage or theft.

Gallowglass Security’s Property team have seen an unprecedented rise in demand for VPIs. Pre-COVID-19, VPIs were ordinarily for properties that have just been sold or were pre-development. Typically, these properties were vacant for three months and generally considered low risk property. However, since March 2020, Gallowglass Security is now undertaking over 1000 vacant property inspections every month for private property owners through to large corporates.

Every client and every insurance provider has different demands as to how they want the empty property inspected and the VPI to take place. As a result, Gallowglass Security’s Property team provide clients with a tailored made experience based off our extensive knowledge, and the demands of the insurer’s contract.

How often should a vacant property be inspected?

We provide clients with a daily or weekly, fully digitalised, time-stamped report, featuring photography of all key areas of the building. Alongside this, we also provide our clients with bespoke services, whether this be forwarding mail, bleeding radiators, checking fridges or running the taps and ensuring that no pipes have frozen during these colder months and reducing chances of legionella. Clients have individual demands and our SIA licensed staff always look to accommodate these and ensure their inclusion in our reports.

For those that feel that this is not a concern, there are several horror stories that should act as a warning. One example of which is an empty warehouse that didn’t invest in a professional VPI service. It was reported to contain over 800 tonnes of rubbish, which had been illegally dumped there in 7 days. Due to a lack of reporting, this individual’s insurance provider was not obliged to pay-out and clear the mess left, leaving the owner with a bill over £100,000 to clear the rubbish from the vacant property. As you can imagine the financial cost of a regular VPI is significantly less, let alone the emotional cost.

For those who own a vacant property, whether this be an empty office, empty home or empty warehouse, Vacant Property Inspection Services should be top of your agenda. The effects of COVID are due to have an unprecedented effect on the economy, let alone the personal impacts. Don’t let damage to your vacant property become another burden on you.