Shield Guarding, the private security firm that was given a £10-11 million contract by the Imperial War Museums to provide Visitor Services and Security, has gone bust two years into the contract. The business and assets of the defunct company have been acquired by Noonan, a facilities management company owned by private equity firm, Alchemy.
The privatisation, in December 2013, was controversial for turning over Museum front-of-house employees to a security firm with no visitor services experience. IWM made the decision for “effectiveness, efficiencies and and also opportunities for staff development.” Aside from quality of service, concerns were raised that Shield Group profited by placing their staff on zero-hour contracts.
The contract with Shield, owned by Indian firm Topsgrup, was beset by payroll and administrative errors and failure to pay staff pensions on time resulted in the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCSU) reporting the company to the Pensions Regulator.
In June 2016, security staff from Shield Group working at the University of Portsmouth threatened a walk out if delays over their pay continued.
A winding up order was published, in February 2016, only to be retracted a few days later. On 8th April, administrators were officially appointed.
The PCSU, which represents some of the staff whose contracts were privatised, has urged that the Museum consider bringing the service back in-house. Moreover, question marks have been raised, again, about the contracting out process.