Opem Security’s in-house control room is the beating heart of the company. Since it first launched in 2012 the state of the art facility has received high praise for its unique method of monitoring and ability to effectively intercept and capture intruders.
Currently, the control room team are riding on a high after a recent armed burglary was intercepted by the team. The incident was effectively reported and resulted in the arrest of the assailant.
Enthused by the collective pride of the team, we took a moment to sit down with the woman of the hour, control room operator, Sophie Griffiths. We wanted to gain some insights into the day in the life and understand what makes Opem Security’s control room so effective.
Tell me about your role at Opem Security and what attracted you to the position?
My role is to provide support to our clients as well as to respond to break-ins and manage incidents. I was attracted to the role because it complimented my lifestyle and allowed me to spend more time with my children. I feel lucky to work with such an amazing team and do a role that I enjoy and find engaging. For me, it’s the perfect work-life balance.
Describe Opem in a sentence
I always say that we’re like superheroes. It can be a very exciting role, especially when you’re able to prevent a crime from happening. It’s a great feeling to know that you were the one to bring justice to your clients and the community.
What sets Opem apart from other control rooms?
I know that there is no other control room like it in the country. Most monitoring companies will monitor continuously on motion. This can be great for some industries, however, it’s redundant when monitoring for the flexible office industry. This is due to the 24-hour nature of their service. Alarming on motion for commercial space means that you end up receiving a high volume of false alarms from clients working late. This is very time taxing and can lead to missing genuine alarms and break-ins.
Opem, monitor doors that are held open for longer than 40 seconds or doors that are forced. Our method enables us to pinpoint the location of the alarm and investigate further. This reduces the number of false alarms and keeps the team focused on true alarms.
The whole team receives rigorous training and adheres to incredibly comprehensive processes that are highly considered and empower us to perform effectively.
Another thing that makes us different is that the team is linked to our portfolio’s access control. This allows us to offer facilities management support. For example, if there’s a flood or fire we can let the relevant service people in to attend the situation. However, we can also support clients with day to day issues such as if the client forgets their card.
We offer a more interactive and customer-centric support which is very rewarding and keeps the job interesting as we do just a little bit of everything
What’s the best part of your job okay
Obviously catching break-ins, but I also really enjoy just helping people. This doesn’t happen as much anymore but there have been occasions where people have forgotten their passports and left them in the office and they’re at risk of missing a flight and having their holiday ruined. So it’s great just being able to step in and help.
On average how many breaks do you catch a month?
It’s difficult to say right now because we’re in unusual times. During normal times, I would say it’s about one a month. In lockdown that seems to have increased a lot.
I would say that it also depends on the month. We seem to get the most break-ins during the winter when it starts getting darker earlier. In the summer we might have a couple of months where we don’t have anything for a while and then all at once. It’s just so difficult to predict.
Since working at Opem how many break-ins have you caught and what are the peak times of action?
Probably about 15 in total. I do the mid-shift so there’s not as many compared with the team that do the night shifts. Generally, I intercept the tailgaters and opportunists who usually strike between 6 pm and 8:30 pm
The night shift team generally experiences peak activity between 3 am and 5 am. It’s really hard to call because they can be so varied. I remember one Christmas where every shift that week I got a break in between 8 pm and 8:30 pm. Then again I’ve also had ones at 1 pm on a weekend so it’s really hard to tell.
What's your biggest challenge
Sometimes reassuring people can be a challenge. I feel that it’s important to communicate that we have people’s safety and best interests at heart. In the event of an emergency, it can be a cause of alarm or destress to some building teams, especially if they are not on-site to deal with the situation directly. Luckily, I am able to act as their second pair of hands, and I stay in regular contact so that they feel safe and assured. Very often you’re dealing with the raw end of people’s emotions so being experienced, and maintaining carm really helps. Recently I had a very flustered building manager who was constantly ringing for updates on a situation that was unfolding. This became a challenge as it was taking my focus away from dealing with the task at hand. Luckily I was able to both reassure and deal with the situation, which helped to build trust with the building manager. Over time you see those relationships develop and if you do your job well, the next time there is an incident the building team has complete faith in you to manage the situation. That’s always very rewarding.
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