Mon 05 / 02 / 24
The ‘Safe and secure’ Breakfast
Lisa Baskott, CEO of 2nd Line of Defence, kicked off this year’s Chamber Breakfasts speaking at January’s sold-out event. Lisa talked about the catalyst for her getting into the security industry, ultimately setting up her own business, and advocating for change and diversity in her sector.
By Hannah Jackson of Brighton Chamber
In March 2021 Lisa Baskott moved to Brighton. It was after this move that an event happened which changed her life. She turned the TV on to find a news bulletin from Clapham. It caught her eye because, originally from Clapham, she said ‘nothing ever happens there’.
The news item was about a young woman called Sarah Everard, who had gone missing as she was walking home one evening. Two days later, Sarah Everard had been found dead, and the culprit for her abduction and murder was a police officer.
A magistrate of 12 years, Lisa says this sent her into overdrive. She felt angry – really angry. She wanted to know how a woman cannot even walk home without being harmed. Lisa was angry at the idea that the person who had caused this harm was in a position of authority.
The final catalyst was, days later, watching a peaceful vigil at Clapham Common bandstand. Seeing the Metropolitan Police response to the women who had gathered there shocked Lisa. These women were gathered because Sarah Everard’s death had struck a chord in them. Every single one of those women had experienced something that resonated with them.
'At that point, I lost my shit'
Lisa felt compelled to do something. She was angry, and she wanted to do something with that anger. She started looking at the organisations that are meant to be protecting people, and realised that something needed to be done.
At this point, Lisa didn’t think she’d be working the doors in Brighton. But her research showed that, although the frontline private security industry has been regulated for over 20 years, it’s in a mess. And, of the 400,000+ licenses issued since 2003 for door security staff, only 10% of these were issued to women.
This was astounding to Lisa. Security staff working in communities should also reflect the communities that they serve. How can a burly white man working on a door understand what it’s like for women to feel uncomfortable in these common places? She couldn’t see people that reflected her working in the industry.
So, she did the door supervisor course – and once she had her license, she signed up for security work all over the place.
Lisa talked about the reaction she would get. People asked her if she was in the right place – seemed to think it was a gimmick. But, finding what she calls a forward-thinking company, they decided to use her to their advantage.
They understood the power of someone who looks like me
Her first ever security gig was the 2021 Labour Party Conference. They put her right out the front: understanding the power of someone who looks like Lisa.
For Lisa, it was important for her to do that job. It was important for her to start changing the narrative, to understand what it felt like for women seeing her do that job.
18 months later and Lisa had learnt a lot. You name a place in Brighton, odds are Lisa’s been on the doors there – from The Grand Hotel to Shoosh. During that time, she gathered swathes of anecdotal evidence, chatting to (plenty of drunk) people on the doors showed her the impact she was having, and how representation can make a difference.
Lisa has never once had to physically remove someone from a venue. She puts this down to having empathy with the people she meets, and simply communicating with them (and doing it well).
Putting her big girl pants on
The issues faced by the private security sector are not separate from societal issues. Lisa points out that it deals with misogyny, violence against women, violence against LGBTQI+ groups (yes, even in Brighton).
Lisa wanted to do more. She had plenty to say, and people were going to listen. So, she ‘put her big girl pants on’, and set up 2nd Line of Defence, the UK’s first female-focused security recruitment agency.
Lisa had a vision
2023 saw Lisa catapulted into an arena where people want to hear what she has to say – and she has been put into spaces where she can start changing people’s opinions. Amongst a few other initiatives, she is now a member of the National Security Skills Board and is a ‘critical friend’ to British Transport Police working alongside stakeholders dealing with initiatives around preventing violence against women and girls.
For 2024, Lisa has, as you might imagine, big plans. She wants to take the conversation around the country, to create systemic change. Systemic change has to be simultaneous change, and stakeholders in cities like Brighton need to have seat at the table.
Lisa says she’s not the catalyst for change, but sees herself more as the conductor, helping everyone to speak with one voice. Her story shows the power of one – being angry, enthused, and doing something about it.
What can you do?
Lisa recognises that it can be hard to approach a problem that is so huge. Her advice is to start small – what can you fit into your daily life? Talk to the people around you, engage with your communities. And what bigger voice do you have than what you put into the ballot box?
Lisa Baskott is CEO of 2nd Line of Defence. Find out more here.
Lisa was guest speaker at January's Chamber Breakfast at Bill's. To find our monthly Breakfast, and more Chamber events to network, learn and be inspired, head over to our events page.
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