Inaugural Speech by ADS Vice-President for Security, Elizabeth Sheldon

Elizabeth Sheldon gave her first speech since her appointment as ADS Vice President for the security sector today, at Security & Policing 2018 in Farnborough.

In her speech, she outlined her vision of how ADS can contribute to fostering effective cooperation between private and public sectors on security issues:

“At ADS we pride ourselves on our ability to foster agile and effective public-private cooperation, often in pressing circumstances, to the benefit of the UK’s national security and policing objectives, as well as those of our allies – all the while aligned with our industry’s economic goals.

“Our team continually aspires to be seen as a trusted, reliable partner to our colleagues in Government, law enforcement, other agencies and all those end-users across the private sector with whom we engage, and who make such a vital contribution to national and international security and resilience.

“Engage with us, and you will find that our work is geared to offering you opportunities to collaborate with some of the world’s most innovative companies. Engage with our companies, and you will find a community, ready and able to understand the most pressing security challenges you face, and work with you hand in hand to tackle them in the spirit of a genuine partnership approach.”

She went on to highlight the importance of the ongoing work of the Security and Resilience Growth Partnership (SRGP), and the Security and Resilience Industry Suppliers’ Community (RISC).

“So what are the priorities for the SRGP? Well, one of our primary goals is securing HMG commitment to scale up the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC) – as industry has requested through the National Security Capability Review, with a focus on practical objectives. I am delighted to be participating later in a panel with the Head of JSaRC, Shaun Hipgrave, a previous VP of Security at ADS, who is a key ally and friend of the security sector.

“It’s in this context that ADS is working hard, with its partners in RISC, to promote the secondment opportunities that are currently available within JSaRC, following the Home Office’s request for us to help the organisation with the recruitment of the next intake. Whilst these are not business development roles and we appreciate that it is difficult for SMEs to free up resource for such initiatives, the benefits of participation for individuals seconded into JSaRC are wide-ranging and include the opportunity to work at the heart of the UK’s national security agenda.

“Secondly, we are working through the SRGP to refresh the UKs security export strategy. There has been steady growth in the security sector since 2012 with a corresponding rise in exports over the same period – up from £4 billion in 2015, to £4.29 billion in 2016 giving us 9.6% of the global market and ranking us 5th in the world. So it’s encouraging to see the Department of International Trade (DIT) forecast a rise of 22% in security exports over the next 4 years. But there is an urgent need for HMG to deliver, in close cooperation with industry, a whole of government approach to the identification of security export potential.”

Beyond RISC and the SRGP, Elizabeth Sheldon set out three priorities for ADS work with the security sector:

Priority 1 is tackling crime and security challenges in a digital age. We hear a lot about cyber security threats and market growth. 15% growth p.a. by some accounts. Crime conducted online now represents a major risk to the UK, with Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Tom Winsor, referring to the emergence of a ‘tsunami of online fraud’, and the Office for National Statistics identifying in 2017 that this form of crime is now the most prevalent in the country.

“Priority 2 is the consideration of the conditions for SMEs within the sector. 90% of ADS’s security members are SMEs, which is a core sector characteristic. Access to opportunities is harder for SME’s so Government bodies with objectives that include more proactive access to market prospects for SMEs, such as JSaRC, become more important. Likewise, improving mechanisms for communication and coordination between Primes and SMEs, as well as addressing concerns from both parties, would improve efficiency and ensure a fair dissemination of opportunities, from Government and private sector alike.

“Priority 3 is encouraging young people into security. It is very heartening to see the Government investing an additional £406m in maths, digital and technical education, helping to address the shortage of Science Technology Engineering Maths (STEM) skills as stated, in the Industrial Strategy white paper published this late last year. However, with security growing faster than the other sectors represented in ADS, we need to be thinking of how we can nurture our own skilled work force of the future, to help grow and sustain our businesses. We may not be able, so readily, to seek skilled workers from Europe following our exit from the EU.”

Finally, she concluded her speech by celebrating the importance of Security & Policing and the success of this week’s exhibition.

“I must say how impressed I am with the show this year, the quality of the exhibitors, the programme of speakers, the live events and demonstrations. The new venue is superb. This event is the key event in the ADS security calendar and I am delighted to say that we will continue to host S&P here in 2019 in partnership with our new event managers Dods.

“S&P provides the UK security industry with an expansive platform on which to demonstrate its wide range of world-leading capabilities. It allows potential customers from private industry and Government, to interact directly with suppliers, thus gaining an in-depth appreciation of the capabilities and expertise available in the UK from SMEs and Primes. It also facilitates greater and more productive relationships between end-users and suppliers and we look forward with hope, to the event continuing here after 2019.

“I hope you have had a good show so far, made good connections met up with old friends, made new ones and that the opportunities presented here at S&P allow you to thrive through this year and beyond.”