TRUSTED TRADER AND SUPPLY CHAIN SECURITY
Participation in the Australian Trusted Trader Programme has become more sought after as the range of benefits increase. However, qualification is not automatic. Importers, exporters, and service providers need to demonstrate high levels of trade compliance and supply chain security.
For warehouse operators, depot operators, transport companies and freight forwarders supply chain security may be of more relevance than trade compliance. Supply chain security has many elements. The most obvious is physical security. What physical boundaries exist and what technology is in place to monitor security? While this may be the first place that companies consider, it is also often the area of least concern of Trusted Trader officers. It is not that this type of security is not important, it is more that industry is good at putting in place physical measures.
The same goes for information technology security. There are a lot of IT security professionals that can put in place good systems to make IT systems secure. The problems that may arise from an IT perspective can often be identified and addressed prior to a Trusted Trader assessment.
A key area of concern for Trusted Trader offices is internal governance and personal measures. A review of cases regarding illegal tobacco imports reveals that it is not uncommon for a participant in the crime to have a current or previous role in logistics. That person uses this past experience and/or their connections within the industry, to facilitate the crime.
Criminals will take the easiest path and often the easiest way for criminals to infiltrate supply chains is by finding a vulnerability within the inside of a supply chain. The physical security and IT systems can keep out people who are not meant to have access, but what if the problem is someone on the inside. This person can either be an opportunistic actor or someone innocently being taken advantage of.
So how to address this risk:
Employee due diligence is key. What are you doing to verify the claims of new employees? Are full reference checks undertaken? At a minimum, proof of identification should be required and police checks undertaken. It is clear that criminals don’t want to take unnecessary risks. If one potential employer is undertaking police checks and the other is not, you know who will be the employer of choice. It doesn’t take much to make your business less attractive to criminals.
Build a culture within your company where all employees feel safe to report suspicious activity. Staff need to understand supply chain risks and what sort of staff activity should raise alarm bells.
Enter into close relationships with law enforcement and intelligence agencies. These organisations rely on private industry to identify threats and should be keen to engage with participants in international trade.
Make sure areas of the business are in close communication. Supply chains can be abused by a person assuming that one department will not verify information he/she is giving about another department. For instance, what verification would be undertaken of an employee claim that a consignee delivery address needs to be changed?
Personal security extends to all people who participate in your business – including sub-contractors.
The first step is reviewing your specific circumstances and where are your greatest areas of vulnerability. Having frank conversations about compliance and reinforcing your expectations with enforced procedures will help develop a firm culture that could be the most important step in building a resilient supply chain.