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A Day in the Life of... Kevin Simms Every fortnight we will be interviewing frontline operatives to get their insight into what it’s like to work in the private security industry in the UK. We recently spoke to Kevin who worked at Gatwick Airport for 9 years as airport securit
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A Day in the Life of... Kevin Simms

February 12, 2021

Every fortnight we will be interviewing frontline operatives to get their insight into what it’s like to work in the private security industry in the UK.

We recently spoke to Kevin who worked at Gatwick Airport for 9 years as airport security, as well as an event security officer at football stadiums. Since lockdown, Kevin has worked as a security officer for a local supermarket and has kindly shared his experience on transitioning into a new security position.


Hi Kevin! Thanks for taking some time out to speak to us at QCS! Really interesting to hear you’ve worked in airport security, what did a typical day on the job look like?

Well, I’m sure you have flown out to a few places to know the airport procedure once you scan your boarding pass at the security gates. Once you go through to departures and scan your boarding pass the first area you must proceed through is the security checks – to get from landside to the airside, this includes passengers and staff.

I carried out visual and physical body searches as well as baggage and vehicle searches to prevent entry of prohibited or dangerous items. Searches are conducted on anyone entering the airside from general public to staff, VIPS, diplomats, politicians and royalty so my role is always carried out with the utmost integrity and professionalism – as a security officer carrying out these sorts of searches you have to understand it can be seen as an intrusive process.

I also operate the x-ray machines that you see when putting your belongings on the trays through security. With the machines - myself and the team rotate every 15 minutes on this, and on each post we rotate every 50 minutes.


Wow! Seems like a very busy role, and one where you really need to be on the ball 24/7?

Thankfully, during the 9 years there I did not encounter any seriously dangerous threats like potential terrorism. But with airport security you do receive more scrutiny compared to other security roles. We are tested regularly with ‘mystery shopper’ type passengers who will try to disguise prohibited items such as blades and bomb components in their luggage. You need to spot these types of things and remain vigilant, if you overlook any of these issues, you will face a sanction or written warning.


Indulge us - what’s the strangest thing you have come across during the search process?

Well, we do get a lot of lads going on stag weekends and we know they go a little crazy with certain props and toys. We’ve caught some of them strap these types of things in bottled water, they normally are compliant when we search, to save them the embarrassment, we normally check their luggage as discreetly as possible. Piercings are another thing that set off our metal detectors. I remember there was a guy who had a massive piercing in his intimate region who just dropped his shorts when we did a body search. Those types of things you don’t ever forget!


How did you first get into airport security?

I was actually a postal worker at Royal Mail prior to my job at Gatwick. But I always wanted to work in aviation and it was an industry that fascinated me. At the time, my friend who I used to train with told me about a job opening at the airport. That night I applied right before the application deadline, I was contacted shortly after to go through the assessment centre and then to do a series of numerical tests and health checks. I got the job and it was a job I loved, working at the airport with thousands of other employees felt like another community in itself.


How has the past year and Covid-19 impacted your former role and what are some of the challenges you have faced?

I was furloughed in April last year, I had a feeling the job would go. As expected, we received the announcement a few months ago about redundancies taking place. I got an SIA licence back in 2015 to compliment my airport security training. I needed that to work as security at stadium events and it came in very handy last year when I found myself out of work and applied for the retail security position.

Having been active and busy for so many years prior to the pandemic I couldn’t bare just sitting around and so I decided to find additional work to keep me busy.

Retail security was a big transition- the change of hours, having to work longer for less pay, etc so I didn’t get to have much leisure time or family time. Surprisingly I faced more confrontation in retail security too – I guess in the airports people expect there could be some delays and see security as a necessary part of the airport process – they are more patient when it comes to queuing and delays. Working in retail, it’s the complete opposite - the general public can see you as a nuisance, they are busy and just want to get on with their day without interruption or having to queues to enter a shop. People don’t like being told what to do especially when it’s new and interrupts their schedule.


So you don’t actually need an SIA to join airport security?

No, the airport has their own training scheme which meets government standard test criteria, you also get extra training on things like machinery and x-rays which is a bonus for many jobs in the security sector.

We find it inspirational that you had the motivation and drive to explore other security roles when you went on furlough. What advice would you give to those facing a similar position and who find themselves looking for work?

My advice would be to stay persistent and don’t give up, there are security jobs there!

What people don’t realise is that you can diversify your security skills in non-security roles so don’t be put off applying for jobs outside of the security industry. The skills we learn as security operatives are transferable and useful for so many other industries and sectors.

In these types of situations sometimes it’s a case of take what you can for now! But it’s important to keep working towards whatever your goals are and developing skills and experience. In this day and age – especially now a job doesn’t have to be for life and as long as you have goals you work towards you are always able to change careers in order to align with your aspirations.


Speaking to Kevin has been a a great insight and has taught us a lot about airport security life. Kevin is certainly a point of inspiration when it comes to changing career paths particularly during this time of uncertainty whilst we have been in this pandemic.

Do you have a security story you would like to share? Let us know!

If you are currently looking for work then please do get in touch for help around CV’s, cover letters and interviews. Send your CV to for a free review or book a CV package and get one of our expert team to write you a new professional CV.

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