ICoCA’s first online training course on Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse was launched in March 2021. The course is available for free to all ICoCA Member and Affiliate Companies and their employees. We talked to Jo Anthoine, ICoCA Board Director & Senior Director Risk, Insurance and Welfare at GardaWorld about the issue, how the course addresses it, and how GardaWorld is using the course.


What is GardaWorld’s take on the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse within the private security sector and why should this issue be high up the agenda for all private security companies and their clients?


Companies in any sector have a responsibility to ensure their personnel are conducting themselves in an ethical manner but we recognize that there is an inherent risk of exploitation where a power imbalance exists, as it does in the private security (PSC) sector. Where one party has responsibility over, or for another, there is scope for that power imbalance to be taken advantage of. Therefore one could say the responsibility for those operating in the PSC industry is greater due to the increased risk, much like the responsibility of those working in the charity sector or those working with vulnerable groups in society, such as children. PSC’s must recognize this as part of their human rights impact assessment and ensure they focus their efforts accordingly, to ensure a greater emphasis is placed on educating their personnel, training them and risk mitigating to protect potential victims of SEA.


How can sexual exploitation and abuse manifest itself?


There are many ways sexual exploitation can manifest and I think that is something that PSC’s need to be very aware of. It can be through their own personnel with members of the community they are working within, it can be between member of their own organisation and it can be between their personnel and clients. PSC personnel can be victims of SEA, or perpetrators, therefore the policies, procedures and training that PSC’s implement must acknowledge and address the different forms it can take.


What resources are there on this topic to help private security companies train their employees on these issues?


ICoCA provide some great resources for their members to enable to them to train their personnel, including an online training course which GardaWorld have recently mandated as part of the training programme.  ICoCA also provide comprehensive guidelines on PSEA that cover the approach PSC’s should take when devising a PSEA policy. I found them incredibly useful, particularly the summary checklist which ensures all areas of the business address the subject fully . The UN is also always a solid resource when approaching subjects such as SEA and you can be sure their work is well researched and thorough when using it as a reference point to build from.


How was GardaWorld involved in the development of ICoCA’s online training course on Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse?


As a representative of GardaWorld I took part in the ICoCA PSEA training course development sessions, along with a number of other ICoCA members from the PSC industry. It was a very informative process for the PSC’s involved, and by collaborating with their members and inviting their input, ICoCA did as much as possible to ensure that the training was appropriate for the intended audience and could be applied from a practical perspective.


How is GardaWorld using ICoCA’s course?


GardaWorld has mandated the course for all corporate, management and administrative staff across the Security Services Middle East and Africa business. They must all complete the course as part of their training programme. The company is also using the ICoCA training as a basis for the classroom based PSEA training which is delivered to the security officers within the East Africa business and the local staff and Gurkha Guard Force across the Middle East business. Their training is delivered face to face, so the course must be adapted from the ICoCA online version, but GardaWorld will ensure the content is maintained to ensure a consistent and comprehensive approach to the subject.


What impact will ICoCA’s online course on this issue have for the company, its clients and the communities where it operates?


It’s been a fantastic resource that GardaWorld is very grateful as an ICoCA member to have access to. It provides a really comprehensive approach and was developed by individuals with much experience of the subject matter, which ensures it is credible and reliable. In using it, GardaWorld can be sure it is training it’s personnel adequately and is adhering to the Code of Conduct signed up to as an ICoCA member. By mandating the training it demonstrate the company’s commitment to the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, which I would hope is of some reassurance to GardaWorld’s own personnel, the communities it operates within and of course the clients.


What other topics would GardaWorld like to see ICoCA develop more online training courses?                                                                                                                                       


I think it would be really helpful for ICoCA to tackle something like Diversity and Inclusion within the PSC industry. It is a difficult topic given many of the regions that PSC’s traditionally operate within and the laws applicable in those countries. However, it is a subject that is not adequately addressed by the sector and there is a distinct lack of it across many of the companies operating in the industry, whether that be local companies or multinational PSC’s.