Jeremy Clarkson on Security Guards

Nice essay:

Of course, we know why he’s really there. He’s really there so that if the bridge is destroyed by terrorists, the authorities can appear on the television news and say they had taken all possible precautions. Plus, if you employ a security guard, then I should imagine that your insurance premiums are going to be significantly lower.

This is probably why so many companies use security guards these days. It must be, because when it comes to preventing a crime, they are pretty much useless. No, really. If you are planning a heist, job one on the list of things to do is “take out the guard”. He is therefore not an impenetrable wall of steel; he’s just a nuisance.

And he’s not just a nuisance to the people planning to hit him on the head. He’s also a nuisance to the thousands of people who legitimately wish to enter or leave the building he’s supposed to be guarding.

At the office where I work, everyone is issued with laminated photo-ID cards that open all the barriers and doors. It is quite impossible to make any sort of progress unless you have such a thing about your person. But even so, every barrier and door is also guarded by a chap who, in a fight, would struggle to beat Christopher Robin. One looks like his heart would give out if you said “boo.” Another has a face that’s so grey that, in some lights, he appears to be slightly lilac. I cannot for the life of me work out what these people are supposed to achieve, apart from making the lives of normal people a little bit more difficult.

EDITED TO ADD (4/13): Another Clarkson essay, this one on security theater.

Posted on March 30, 2010 at 6:06 AM

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.