Coming Soon – PEACE advanced interviewing workshop

We are working with SPC Secure Solutions on a one day advanced interviewing course. This 5 hour workshop will help your managers and HR staff to further their disciplinary interviewing skills. The course introduces, and puts into practice, PEACE interviewing techniques which have been successfully used by law enforcement agencies over the past 25 years. More details to follow shortly….

PEACE flyer

Press release – The Charity Commission warns about CEO email fraud

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Please do be aware of recent activity particularly targeting charities. From our experience, the emails are usually convincing enough to at least start an email exchange between the spoof CEO email and the finance officer. A mixture of sound finance controls, awareness, alertness and sometimes luck are more often than not enough to raise the alarm bells. Please get in touch to find out more about how we can help your staff to combat these ever increasing threats.

The full press release from the Charity Commission is here:

https://www.charitydigitalnews.co.uk/2018/04/03/charity-commission-warns-ceo-email-fraud/

Verbal abuse – not part of the job

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This is the latest incident to effect the ambulance service. Shocking. And thankfully we still regard it as shocking and certainly not ‘part of the job’. Over the past few months, while providing staff with security awareness training, I have heard staff recall abuse from parents and pupils face to face and, for those dealing with the public, a variety of verbal abuse received over the phone, on social media, by email, in person and at public consultation events. Somethings are out of our control, some people will act on this way no matter what deterrent actions we have taken. But that shouldn’t stop us trying to support staff. To start with we need to listen to their concerns and put in local procedures. This can be followed by reviewing organisation policies and procedures. We can then look at pro-active work to include awareness campaigns, conflict training and police liaison. As long as we are showing support, staff should not feel powerless to act and should never ever get to the point where we hear the words ‘it’s just part of the job’.

 

Please do get in touch if you want to know more about the staff workshops that we run or to find out how we can support your organisation with policy and procedure changes and investigations support.

nick@mackenziegrey.org

A variety of awareness workshops

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We run a variety of workshops for various organisations in various sectors! Fraud, bribery, security and lone worker awareness sessions aimed at governors, trustees, finance staff, managers and community workers. Duration, content, delegate numbers can all be tailored to your specifications. And all specifically designed for audience participation to maximize the benefits to your organisation. Please get in touch to find out more.

Phone scamming – who can you trust?

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Well no-one is the answer. Whether you are home or work, any cold calls from the companies you do business with should be treated with suspicion. This latest BBC report..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-43129709

..involves gangs targeting victims pretending to be from their bank. In the cases of charities, who have been specifically targeted, access by fraudsters to banking details held in the public domain make the calls seem all the more realistic. Constant reminders need to be sent to staff, and ourselves, to make sure we always challenge callers and insist on calling them back. Using details we find for ourselves on the internet rather than anything they have given us. Again, and similar to my last post, a challenge for the banking industry who still need/want to make ‘genuine’ cold calls to customers every day. Despite the best efforts of Trading Standards, the police, the ICO, Action Fraud and many others in the public and private sectors, we are almost at the stage where we need a stand alone body (dare I say a quango :)) to take charge of this whole matter and co-ordinate pro-active solutions to help protect us all from ever more sophisticated, or well timed/opportune, scamming. At the moment it all feels too easy for the fraudsters and leaves me, for one, feeling that myself, my family and my company are only one 5 minute call away from being a victim.

FRAUD ALERT – FAKE GOVERNMENT GRANTS

I’ve given some advice over the past couple of weeks on various scams and ways to protect company resources from what is now a constant barrage of fraudulent attempts. Scamming is an an industry in itself now with hi-tech set ups used in a scatter gun approach. Of the millions of spam emails generated in a day it only takes a few ‘hits’ to make this worthwhile, especially when the risk of being brought to justice is so low. And it’s not just a case of preying on the vulnerable. It could happen to any of us at any time. How many times a week are we asked by legitimate sources to click on links. And then enter passwords again before we start to suspect that something may be amiss. That’s on a good day when our brains our engaged. I was with a friend not so long ago who was distracted by children, and adults, coming and going in their hallway as they stood there talking us through an unexpected Apple reset password request on their phone. Before  pennies slowly (very slowly) started dropping around us and someone, ironically one of the children :), shouted STOP. Until the day arrives, and it will have to, before businesses and governments collectively wake up to protecting us properly from scamming (large organisations could start by stopping widespread mailshots of emails with links) we will have to remain on high alert and rely on alerts, word of mouth and common sense. And in this case below, not even considering parting with money until we have made attempts to verify the authenticity of the scheme. And asked our children for a second opinion.
Anyway, here is the fraud alert, courtesy of Action Fraud…..

Action Fraud is warning people to watch out for emails and cold calls from fraudsters who are asking people to apply for Government grants in return for an advance fee.

Action Fraud has received 85 reports of this type of fraud since January 2017 with a total loss of £255,724 and an average loss of £3,000.

How the fraud is committed

Bogus companies which have websites set up in the company name, claim to be operating on behalf of the UK Government

The fraudsters cold call businesses and individuals offering the grants and if they’re interested, direct them to fill out an online application form with their personal information.

Once the fraudsters have obtained the personal information they will re-contact victims and congratulate them on being accepted onto the grant programme.

Applicants are then asked to provide identification and are instructed to get a pre-paid card to deposit their own contribution to the fake Government grant scheme. Prepaid cards can be used in a similar way to credit cards, except the funds on a prepaid card are loaded on prior to spending.

Fraudsters will contact the victims by phone or email to ask for the details of their pre-paid card and copies of statements in order for them to add the grant funds.

Of course the grant funds are never given by the fraudsters and the money that’s been loaded onto the card by the victim is stolen.

Tackling the fraudsters

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has disrupted one website that was being used to commit this fraud and it is working with Companies House to identify other fake companies and disrupt fraudulent websites in their name.

Protect yourself from advance fee frauds:

Be wary of unsolicited calls about applying for grants. You should never have to pay to receive a Government grant, and they definitely won’t instruct you to obtain a pre-paid card. The Government should have all the information they need if a genuine grant application was submitted, therefore any requests for personal or banking information either over the phone or online should be refused.

If you think your bank or personal details have been compromised or if you believe you have been defrauded contact your bank immediately. Stop all communication with the ‘agency’ but make a note of their details and report it to Action Fraud.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector, Lara Xenoudakis, of the City of London Police said: ‟Under the guise of the UK Government, fraudsters are taking advantage of peoples’ trust by setting up convincing fake websites.

‟The NFIB is working hard take down these websites and prevent people from falling victim however, we are urging people to be cautious.

‟A legitimate Government grant scheme would never expect to receive an upfront payment in return for the grant, so it is important that anyone who believes they may have been contacted by these fraudsters makes a report to Action Fraud.”

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to us by visiting http://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Sign up for free to Action Fraud Alert to receive direct, verified, accurate information about scams and fraud in your area by email, recorded voice and text message.

Dangerous Dogs. And people.

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I have been looking into dangerous dogs this week, the law…

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dangerous-dogs-owners-face-tougher-sentences-for-attacks

… and the relevant guidance etc, in response to a client request for assistance (after a member of staff had been attacked by a dog on a home visit). And so I started doing some research and found a couple of interesting articles, this one struck a cord and tells the story of a social worker visit…

https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2016/jun/03/social-work-fear-dangerous

Then I found this paper dating back to November 2012, an inquiry into dog attacks on postal workers by Sir Gordon Langley…

https://www.royalmailgroup.com/sites/default/files/Langley_Report.pdf

The headline figures …24000 postal workers attacked by dogs over a 5 year period and around 4000 dog related incidents are recorded every year across the service.

The inquiry shows that the Post Office has a robust system in place for registering addresses where dogs are, or could be, a problem. Although the report is now 5 years old so we do not know what measures are currently in place. But let’s presume they still keep an up to date register….

I know from my previous employment that the various ambulance services across Britain keep their own registers of high risk addresses. Local authorities, mental health and community nursing providers, charities, and of course, the police, will also keep their own registers. Not just for dogs of course, humans often pose the greater threat.

Without wishing to state the obvious, wouldn’t it be great to bring all this intelligence together and help reduce the risks to all parties. So the mental health worker visiting an address for the first time can take into account that this is an address that the ambulance service will not attend to without police presence. Etc Etc.

Ditto estate agents, cold callers, debt collectors, couriers. Shortly before Christmas I answered the door to an Amazon courier covered in blood who had been attacked by a dog down our road. Day in day out, turning up on the door step of ‘at risk’ addresses and taking their chances.

What’s stopping someone compiling one central list? Well, an awful lot of things. Staying the right side of the The Data Protection Act, for one, would scare most parties off . But how far has anyone ever gone in trying to find a solution? Answers on a postcard. I know there are are joint working initiatives out there, and the technology to support them is as good as ever, but how close has anyone come to really cracking it?

Until such a day, and in the meantime, it is a given that you should keep your own register. Locally on your team, or centrally as an organisation, and then make attempts to contact local stakeholders and see what work you can do together. Anything is better than turning up blindly to an address, without any knowledge of the risks, and suddenly staring that dangerous dog, or person, in the face.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM FROM HSE v BRENT COUNCIL?

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http://press.hse.gov.uk/2017/local-authority-fined-after-social-workers-assaulted/

When I stared this blog I wanted to avoid posting the obvious ‘scaremongering’ type headline cases. Just because I see plenty of presentations and training material filled with them and I don’t always find them very constructive. Not that it isn’t important to raise awareness of these incidents. It is. But more often than not we just see the headline and not the detail. And this is the crucial part. After we have processed the shock, surprise, fear elements that they are designed for, how do we ensure that we don’t as employers and employees fall foul ourselves.

In this recent HSE prosecution, the press release tells us the following:

Two Brent council staff were assaulted whilst visiting the home address of a vulnerable child.

The mother of the child assaulted them both with a metal object. One was knocked unconscious and has gone on to suffer PTSD.

Brent Council was found guilty of failing to following it’s lone working policy and violence and aggression guidance. And they failed to add an aggression marker to the records for the child/address.

The council was fined £100K.

What it doesn’t tell us is:

The extent to which the staff did or did not follow council guidance. Presumably they followed some of it but what went wrong?

How did they call for help, or did they not get a chance? I note from the internet that the council had a lone working mobile alarm service in place at the time. Were they using it and how useful was it?

Was there a system in place for recording violent markers? And what should they have had? I know many organisations struggle in this area especially when you try and factor in intelligence from other sources, police, ambulance, NHS etc.

What training did they have to deal with this type of incident? And what do the HSE feel was missing?

Was the mother prosecuted? Sometimes it is important for us to know how the police/CPS dealt with the incident and what, if any, sanctions were applied.

Could the home visit have been avoided? There is a suggestion in the report that it could have been but this opens up a much wider question as the pros and cons of visiting ‘clients’ in their homes and how this needs to be weighed up carefully.

What has Brent Council done since this incident to help improve the safety of it’s lone workers?

…and the list goes on.

I know the HSE feeds into the very useful Health and Safety Laboratory  https://www.hsl.gov.uk/what-we-do  and also compile their own case studies http://www.hse.gov.uk/resources/casestudies.htm. So hopefully the lessons to be learnt from this case will feed through. But sometimes it would be good to have it all to hand while the report is fresh in our minds. Just a final piece of the jigsaw that would be invaluable to everyone who works hard to protect the safety of lone workers.

 

 

 

 

IF YOU DON’T REPORT IT, AT LEAST TALK ABOUT IT!

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Should staff report verbal abuse? The answer is YES, YES and YES!- to their manager; on the incident reporting system; to the police if necessary.

End of blog 🙂   Well not quite.

For whatever reason (and there are quite a few we will come to) staff are reluctant to report verbal abuse (see attached report for more detail).

http://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Document-library/NMDS-SC,-workforce-intelligence-and-innovation/Research/Violence-reports/Violence-against-social-care-workers—composite-report.pdf

I can also add lots of anecdotal evidence to this from investigations I have carried out or training courses I have given, and then, more recently, from a meeting I had with a palliative care community team.

This team had started alerting their HR department to high occurrences of verbal abuse, mainly from relatives of those they were providing palliative (end-of-life) care to in their homes. They had not approached HR; rather a pro-active HR manager had discovered this as she sought to address a staff survey that had flagged up a high percentage of staff reporting feelings of being at risk. She asked if I would talk to them at their next team meeting and, as a security adviser, give them some tips and advice.

A fairly straightforward request and one that would not normally cause me any problems. Fast forward 10 minutes into that meeting and I suddenly doubted whether I could help this team. This was not through a lack of planning; I had several ideas and had prepared for the meeting. What I had underestimated was the complexity of the problem. Families of sick relatives who, for ‘genuine’ reasons and sometimes for no good reason, were subjecting staff to inappropriate comments, not always personal but still making staff feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Staff were feeling powerless to stop this, mainly through their desires to ensure that the vital care they were giving took priority over everything else.

What surprised me most was that the team were not aware of how frequently this was occurring. This was the first time, as a group, they had really touched on this matter, and their camaraderie was growing as they looked to me for solutions. And did I have any? Well, yes, some, but I knew they would not be met with great enthusiasm. All ‘solutions’ were from the Lone-working policy, some from the Violence and Aggression policy (warning letters, etc.).  However, as a team, they were already well-informed of these through their manager.

Yet we did make some headway through reporting procedures. The team knew they should report ‘incidents’ but were unclear whether some of the behaviors warranted it. We spoke about recording all behavior on care notes and handover sheets. We spoke about barriers to reporting; time; sympathy; and the most common, a ‘just part of the job’ mindset. We spoke about the benefits of reporting all verbal abuse encountered.

After working through these points, and 55 minutes into my 60-minute ‘routine’, I wondered how I could walk away from this with some really meaningful input. And then one of the team came to my rescue. ‘This has been really useful, just all of us together chatting about the home visits that cause us the most concern’. ‘Yes, I agree,’ from another, ‘we need to do this more often to make sure we are all prepared for the situations we are walking into’. And then other positive comments followed, and a decision from the manager to dedicate 30 minutes a week at the team meeting to relatives behavior and verbal abuse.

Job done? Roll on three months and the manager reported real progress in this area. Could I take any credit?  No, not really, and it isn’t always about that, but for whatever reason I was there, acting as a sounding board for 60 minutes and helping a team work through their lone-working problem. And all we did was talk. And listen.

End of blog:)