Business Protection, People

We can be heroes – Sharon Richardson, Senior Security Supervisor

I was always more of a hands-on, physical type of person rather than an academic type. I left at 16 and secured a job at the DSS benefit agency doing basic security. From there I saw a position working for Group 4 for a new privately financed prison in Rugby. I saw that as a big new challenge so applied and was successful. That was the start of my career in the prison service for the next 20 years.

Over my 20 year career I was in charge of conflict management and conflict resolution with prisoners, dealing with aggressive people and de-escalating it without using force.

I worked on the segregation unit as a segregation manager which dealt with the most non-compliant, refractory prisoners. They couldn’t be controlled on a normal regime so I would house 21 cells and you knew that when you opened the cell door, you would have to use force. When I left Rye Hill where I was for 12 years the prisoners were crying as they were so sad I was leaving. They were serving 30 years so they wanted stability and they wanted to trust people. I then moved to Oakwood prison which was then the biggest prison in Europe. I wanted to be very visible and show the staff the standards I expected by leading from the front. I went in as a residential manager and that lasted for two weeks. I moved into security and intelligence.

In 2016 I moved to JLR. An ex colleague of mine joined JLR into Business Protection and that was the first I’d ever heard of it. It sounded amazing. The work sounded perfect. The position that came up was as a team leader on the gates at Solihull. I’ve had four promotions since I joined two and a half years ago. Because of the level I worked to in the prison service I can deliver to a very high level. So I’m now in a senior security supervisor role. I have a first line of security officers. We’ve evolved the security team since I’ve been here as we didn’t have any of that in place.

I’ve already started to set up an intelligence process where I work with the internal investigations team to track and monitor. We work really closely with the police force and I have the expertise to present cases with the correct evidence packages to assist them.

We use a lot of surveillance techniques and act on anonymous whistle-blowing information. We then develop the lead gathering evidence and data. We’re present on site 24/7 so by being visible, we’re anonymous. It’s about a security culture and mind-set, we want to change it across the plant. We want people to understand that security is everyone’s responsibility. I run a risk log for the site. I audit processes and techniques for all areas to avoid and minimise risk and theft. You probe the business for weaknesses and then put in fixes to rectify them.

I want Solihull to be the centre of excellence for security.

Communication has been the one skill that has always steered me right over the years. Clarity right from the top to the teams so we’re all clear on what we’re doing. People management is essential and managing performance. It’s the only way you get the best out of people.