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Author: George Oliver

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.

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.

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.

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.