Postal security is a vital area of focus for postal operators. Yet, security is often one of the first areas to lose funding and staff when budgets are tight, such as during the pandemic, said Dawn Wilkes, the UPU’s Security Programme Manager.
As a postal inspector with the United States Postal Inspection Service, Wilkes sees reductions in postal security funding as the biggest threat to security itself.
“Postal employees face a multitude of safety and security risks on a daily basis,” Wilkes said. “It's the responsibility of security officers around the world to help provide training and information on the potential risks and challenges.”
Postal delivery workers may encounter aggressive recipients or pets that are not under control. They may be exposed to dangerous contents in packages carrying illicit materials, such as fentanyl. Clerks may come face to face with robbers or criminals who attempt to ship dangerous packages.
The UPU’s Postal Security Group (PSG) security experts develop security strategies to promote security for the posts themselves as well as their regions.
A pilot programme with Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization) allowed 40 security experts in the Asia-Pacific region to receive certification in recognizing illicit goods. The programme was so successful, Wilkes hopes it becomes available for other regions during the next Congress cycle.
Many security experts also devote time to outreach in their regions, Wilkes said. A new award was created to recognize their service.
“Everything that they do for the Postal Security Group is basically above and beyond,” Wilkes said.
Pablo Sagastume from the Postal Union of the Americas, Spain and Portugal (PUASP) received the first PSG Chairman Award. The PUASP invests in postal security in several ways, Sagastume said. Its regional experts provide assessments and solutions to designated operators as well as financial assistance for those who want to implement new measures and technologies.
He encourages all postal operators to obtain a security certification through adherence of the UPU’s S58 and S59 security standards.
“This will provide a strong base to protect all clients, staff, and infrastructure,” he said. “Secure the supply chain and minimize all external and internal risks,” he added.
Gary Barksdale, who represents the United States as the PSG Chairman, said: “The importance of our regional and international partners working to enhance postal security cannot be stressed enough. Without their continued dedication, commitment, and collaborative efforts, the PSG would be unable to accomplish its objectives.”
Full interview with Gary R. Barksdale, Chairman of the UPU Postal Security Group and Chief Postal Inspector at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service will appear in Voice Mail episode 6 this Thursday. Keep checking this page to learn more about one of the oldest national law enforcement agencies as well as the latest trends and challenges facing postal security experts.
To watch the full statement of the PSG Award 2021 winner Pablo Sagastume, click here.