Unpicking security skills

When touring UAP’s premises in Whitefield, Greater Manchester, there’s always one area of the business which fascinates visitors: the company’s locksmith department. Why? Because they have a training school where you can learn to pick a lock.

The UAP locksmith department was formed around 10 years ago following the company’s development of locksmith tools. UAP CEO David Jennings soon spotted an opportunity for growth: teach people how to use the tools. The training school quickly proved popular so David extended the range of training techniques available and sought certification. The training centre is now NCFE Level 3 approved.

For the past three years, department manager Kevin Pritchard has held the training sessions, supported by consultant Martin Pink and occasionally UAP’s quality and certification director Mark Rushton.

A select number of UAP customers have benefitted from locksmith training over the past decade. Of those, many choose to use the service to complement a product sale; offering training to their customers, typically councils and registered providers.

With a strong commercial presence, the UAP brand is familiar to council and local authority teams across the UK. Eight years ago, the company was approached by a council customer to help them learn about door entry using non-destructive entry (NDE) techniques to ease the cost of replacing damaged doors. Since then, UAP has found a market for this from private and public maintenance contractors and providers.

Aside from traditional UAP customers, demand is high among government departments, armed forces and emergency services. UAP was approached early on by various government, police and army divisions to teach them how to use the locksmith tools. The company has since trained covert services and specialist police divisions. Overseas police services have also sought UAP’s locksmith expertise. Around six years ago, the company hosted a closed exhibition for covert services.

And it’s not just domestic entry techniques, UAP also works with one of the world’s most trusted and popular auto locksmith brands, Genuine Lishi, to offer vehicle entry products and training. Auto entry training has become increasingly popular with the emergency and covert services.

Last November, UAP hosted crew from local fire brigade, Whitefield Red Watch, to complete a training session. Crew manager James Cheverton explained why the training was helpful and how it will benefit the Red Watch crew in the future.

“As part of the diverse range of incidents Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service encounters, we have many occasions which require us to force entry into premises and cars,” he said.

“UAP kindly agreed for Whitefield Red Watch to spend time with one of their locksmiths, and the training we received has enhanced our knowledge on a range of locks we may encounter. As a result, the training helped my crew feel more confident and able to perform to our best when gaining entry to deal with incidents.”

The locksmith department offers a variety of services alongside its training programme, including custom keyed alike cylinders and custom master suite cylinders. The locksmiths are BSi Kitemark registered which means when they key alike the cylinders, the Kitemark status of the cylinder is not affected.