12 JUNE 1971, Page 27

Security check

Malversation, I think, is the word to describe what occasionally occurs in the security companies which have grown rich guarding other people's money on its way to the banks. Disgrace, dismissal and imprisonment have no doubt been meted out to those few in the film-extra-like ranks who have supple- mented their income by tipping off the hold- up gangs. It is difficult to know if using a security company or insuring personal pos- sessions in fact adds to risk by disclosing, to more people than would ordinarily know, what amount of valuables is around. Grout, my rich city friend, tells me that he does not insure his new young wife's jewel- lery as he does not trust the filing systems of the insurance companies or believe in con- tinuing to rent, through premiums, what he has already bought and his wife deserves.

The security men at work give one quite a turn with their helmets and goggles and make me tiptoe or cross the street when they are carrying their cargo in and out of banks. I suspect that behind the scenes they are not as reliable as they look. On Monday I re- ceived a pre-printed letter 'with a form and a pre-stamped envelope from Securicor, the richest of them all, wanting a reference for a gardener I once had and they are thinking of recruiting. No telephone call from an ex- CID man from their personnel scteening de- partment but just two or three routine questions and the job is presumably his. I am delighted if they give him the job as he is burly and honest except for a preference, I remember, for working not far from the Potting shed.

The Civil Service goes a bit further in

establishing references—but not much. Someone once told me he had had a printed letter from a Government Department con- sidering higher security clearance for an employee—a retired regular army major. Again just three or four questions but not including the expected : Is he keen on ama- teur radio work?' but finishing 'Is he or has he ever been a i-riember of the Communist party?' That would have dished our ex- Minister of Defence, poor old pro-Marketeer Dennis Healey, presumably?