The value of the private security industry

The need for a professional, dependable private security industry is required to protect people, property, assets and operations. These responsibilities cannot always be maintained by the police as the demands for security in society and businesses increase.

For this reason it is vital that regulators, government bodies, the police and the security industry work in collaboration to help to build and develop a vibrant, professional and reliable private security industry.
The Security Industry Authority is a Home Office non-departmental public body, which regulates the private security industry in the UK; we license individuals undertaking designated activities within the private security industry and manage the voluntary Approved Contractor Scheme, which measures private security suppliers against independently assessed standards.

Possessing an SIA licence means that an individual has undertaken formal training, gained a relevant qualification, and has undergone criminal record and identity checks. Currently, there are more than 377,500 valid SIA licences held by operatives across the licensable sectors: cash and valuables in transit, close protection, door supervision, key holding, public space surveillance, security guarding, and vehicle immobilisation (Northern Ireland only).
There are also more than 949, 000 nationally recognised security qualifications held, ensuring that there is a specified level of competence. That is a huge number of professional qualifications, and a clear demonstration of the commitment of a large number of security professionals. The SIA has also been successful in preventing unsuitable people gaining licences. The SIA has revoked 33,416 licences and refused more than 32,000 licence applications.

The Approved Contractor Scheme
This is a voluntary scheme which measures security suppliers against independently assessed criteria. The Approved Contractor Scheme accreditation provides security buyers with independent proof of a contractor’s commitment to quality. There are currently 748 approved contractors and more than 134,000 licensed operatives work for one of these companies.

The future proposals
In November 2012, the Home Office published a public consultation document on the future regulatory regime for the private security industry. The consultation document was developed in partnership with industry representatives via a strategic consultation group, chaired by the SIA. It reflects input and feedback from many workshops and meetings held around the country. The consultation closed in January 2013, and received nearly 800 responses. A summary of responses will  be published by the Home Office later this year.  
The Scottish Government and the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland have not yet decided whether they will adopt the changes proposed in the consultation. However, both the Scottish Government and the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland have indicated that they are supportive of a consistent UK-wide regulatory regime for the private security industry.
The government intends to introduce regulation that is primarily focussed on regulating security businesses, although individuals will still be licensed. The Home Office and the SIA are working together so that legislation will be in place by the end of the year. This will allow the SIA to begin the regulation businesses operating in designated areas of the private security service, in spring 2014.
It will be a criminal offence for a business to provide a security service unless the business is approved to do so by the SIA. The SIA will publish an online register of regulated businesses.
Businesses will need to demonstrate that they meet the regulation criteria and comply with certain terms and conditions, which will include conformance with the relevant British Standards. In recognition of small and micro businesses, special consideration will be given to their requirements to business regulation, and their terms and conditions.
The SIA will continue to maintain a register of individuals authorised to undertake regulated activity within the private security industry. The government recognises that some businesses employ staff directly ‘in-house’ and they will be addressing this as the proposals develop.
Industry investment in the Approved Contractor Scheme will be protected. The industry has invested a great deal of time and effort in the ACS, and buyers (including many government organisations) specify that security suppliers are ACS approved. The voluntary scheme is expected to continue in its current form at least until compulsory business licensing is established. In the longer term, depending on new legislation, an industry-led organisation could take responsibility for the voluntary scheme.

Other plans for the future
The SIA will set and ensure licensing standards for individuals and will run an online register. The SIA will continue to make greater use of online technology and will increase the use of e-channels, which will result in: more automation, less paperwork, and a faster, more efficient and more cost-effective service. Individuals will be able to do more online, through the SIA’s online self-service facilities, where they will be able to manage their personal details and renew their licences. This will allow the SIA to phase out the less efficient and more expensive paper and telephone based services we currently use.

The Private Security Industry Act 2001 requires the SIA to set and approve standards for training, but development of competency specifications has always been undertaken in consultation with stakeholders and based on industry best practice. The government proposes that industry will have a greater role in setting the training requirement for a licence, which will help ensure that training is relevant and meaningful for individuals and reflects industry requirements.

Business as usual
Results of the consultation have yet to be formally announced and until then we will continue to work with and listen to enforcement partners, security suppliers, security buyers and front line staff to ensure that their needs are incorporated as the developments for the future of the industry continue. Raising standards, and combating criminality, especially organised crime, are essential to what the government wants the SIA to continue to do in the future.
The SIA will keep the industry and stakeholders informed about plans and timetables for change, incorporating their needs as the developments for the future of the private security industry continue.

Further information
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