Government Indemnity Scheme, Security requirements and how to meet them.

A write up of the talk given by William Brown, National Security Advisor, arts Council England.

Firstly we started by congratulating William on his 12th anniversary as the NSA, he is longest serving NSA and, from the queues of people around him at tea breaks he certainly seems to be very popular.

I’m sure many of us thought William worked alone, running around the country assessing a whopping 1400+ applications per year. But it turns out William has some colleagues – several of whom he introduced – who cover different areas of the country and have different security specialisms.

After a whistle stop tour of GIS security conditions, William ran through the three most likely risks to museum collections and loans: losses (theft or criminality), damage (deliberate or accidental including consequential), and natural forces (such as fire or flood).

He then discussed examples of the three using some of the most famous UK museum thefts and accidents, including some which had not been fully resolved. The examples covered a wide variety of museum objects, scenarios, personnel, and locations. William also used quite a few “What’s wrong with this photo?” games to get us thinking for ourselves and assessing hidden and obvious risks. William also discussed the ‘at risk’ parts of museum buildings – such as copper and lead roofing – which really hit home the point that risk management is not just about the collections. The discussion then moved on to recognising and reporting suspicious activity in the galleries and the importance of this for early detection and deterrent.

At this point, when the audience was getting really paranoid, William talked about how positive actions and professional collaboration can mitigate both immediate and future risks. These simple steps of working together, sharing advice, developing professional skills, and ensuring information is accurate all enable us to work in confidence knowing that our collections and loans will remain safe and secure wherever they may be sent. 

Considering this can sometimes be a depressing subject, William did an excellent job of mediating the “doom and gloom” by focusing on how our everyday actions can have the most positive impact.

Joanne CS Smith, Registrar, Projects, National Trust.