Hasan Afzal started in security in 2012, working as a relief security officer in shopping centers, restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as other facilities. He brings lessons from each sector with him into his role as the sole security officer at Kew Retail Park in West London.
The shopping center is situated in a residential area of London and draws consumers to its facilities with the seven stores occupying the building. From a café and restaurant to many large retail chains, Afzal helps the tenants of Kew Retail Park work together to conduct investigations into active or potential threats.
Afzal credits his mentor Michael Zeebroek, Account Manager at Atlas Security, with supporting and inspiring him to succeed in the security field. Afzal, the winner of the 2022 U.K. Outstanding Security Performance Award (OSPA) for Outstanding Security Officer, has bolstered security investigations through collaboration across stores in the retail park and a focus on loss prevention and perimeter security.
Prioritizing security collaboration
As the only security officer assigned to Kew Retail Park by Atlas Security, Afzal works to coordinate security efforts between the stores in the shopping mall. By checking in daily with security officers employed directly by the retail park’s tenants, Afzal can determine where to direct resources based on current security threats.
“We share data with each other. If a shoplifter is involved in stealing in one store, we inform the others as well,” Afzal says. This real-time information sharing helps mitigate security threats and prevent asset loss before it occurs.
Identifying threats with perimeter surveillance
Alongside his tenant coordination duties, Afzal conducts patrols of the parking lot outside the retail park. The 600-spot parking lot attracts mall visitors, but its size can also draw in individuals engaging in illegal narcotics use or sales. When dealing with this security issue, Afzal employs a combination of physical patrols, license plate information gathering, and video surveillance to deter potential crime and investigate ongoing incidents.
By surveilling potential security threats over days or weeks, Afzal can collect information to share with local law enforcement if necessary. “At the end of the day, you need proof of an incident, so I provide this data to local police for their daily use,” Afzal says.
Building security partnerships
As the shopping center’s sole security officer, Afzal leads investigations with intelligence from law enforcement, private store security at Kew Retail Park, and surveillance technology.
Afzal monitors the social media accounts of local police, which update their feeds to reflect ongoing public safety issues. In addition, he monitors the 10 security cameras covering the store entrances and parking lot.
When incidents take place inside shops, Afzal coordinates with his security partners to stop the threat from escalating. By speaking with store security daily, Afzal builds relationships to break down the siloed security teams.
As they share information and security intelligence, Afzal says he learns as much as he helps: “I learn from the shopping center officers. I’m not teaching them; I’m sharing information. We work as a team.”