Source: Nairobi Star/allAfrica
Former British military officers have joined their Kenyan counterparts to form one of the largest private security firms in the country.
The new company, called Xfor Security Solutions Kenya, has now heightened competition in the lucrative industry. The firm has already began hiring former military officers and ex-police to work as its private security guards.
Existing security companies complained some of their staff had been « poached » with some offered almost double salaries. Xfor chief executive Gary Lincoln-Hope confirmed this in an interview with the Star. « Our guards must be ex-police or ex-military or have at least seven years of security service, » he said.
In the UK, Xfor is one of the largest security service providers, and was started by leading figures from the police, armed forces and Local Government.
Gary said they are the only security firm in Kenya using Patrol Management System, an advanced software that allows clients to remotely monitor guards assigned to them. « This means no one can manipulate data because each client has unique login details, » he said. There are more than 2,000 registered private security companies in Kenya, employing more than 300,000 guards.
Xfor came into the limelight in Kenya in September last year when three British men were arrested by counter-terrorism police. The three, initially suspected to be trying to join al-Shabaab, were actually staff of Intelligere, a branch of XFOR, investigating a couple accused of leaking business secrets of a blue chip company. « During tough economical times people can use dishonesty to get a financial edge, so personal investigation is very important, » Gary said.
Business development manager Enock Makanga said apart from protection and investigations, they are also offering business consultancy services. « At an executive level, you need up-to-date, detailed information if you are to make productive decisions for your business, » he said.
He said their new recruits are also undergoing training in counter-terrorism. « The initial training is at least four weeks but afterwards the guards undergo continuous six month training sessions. » Part of the training is an exchange programme between Kenya and UK security guards, which begins this year.
Need for security services in Kenya has spiked because of terrorism threats from Somalia. Makanga said also the need for personal investigation and business intelligence in also increasing. A two-tier private security system currently divides Kenyans by social status. While the wealthy and middle class protect their homes with private guards, the poor have volatile vigilante groups.
By John Muchangi