2006 was destined to be the formal start of a journey to transform the security guarding industry which commentators believe could take between five to ten years. During this period, licensing would become a reality, standards would be raised through the Approved Contractors Scheme, labour turnover would stabilise and margins would improve. In this review we look at the start of this journey in respect of licensing, the Approved Contractors Scheme, and market conditions.
Whilst licensing has become a reality only 69% (139,466 as of 21 December 2006) of the estimated 140,000 licensable security guarding population are now licensed. The purpose of the Private Security Industry Act is to raise standards and rid the security guarding industry of criminality and rank bad practice. Joint agency operations such as Operation Seahog (Parts 1&2) indicated the necessity to focus on the criminal element within the security guarding industry. This operation demonstrated the effectiveness of such activities. It is surprising that this has occurred only in Liverpool, surely there are criminal pockets operating in the security guarding industry in most metropolitan areas in the UK? Infologue.com does not support the pursuing of bona fide security companies, for minor infringements, at the expense of focussing resources on one of the key intentions of the Act – removing criminality from operating businesses in our industry. It is therefore not surprising that despite numerous enforcement operations there have been no prosecutions for illegally deploying security guards. Since inception of licensing only a handful of door supervisor companies have been prosecuted for illegally deploying licensable personnel. 2,367 security guarding applications have been refused by the SIA. On the positive side 139,466 security guards have for the first time received a formal security industry focused qualification.
Approved Contractors Scheme
The SIA’s voluntary Approved Contractor Scheme was launched in March 2006 after an acrimonious debate on the shape of the scheme. There are now 314 Approved Contractors distributed over the seven licensable disciplines and six size levels. (Micro to Largest) In early December 2006 Infologue.com produced an in-depth briefing of the ACS (ACS COULD BECOME CATALYST FOR CHANGE AS MEMBERSHIP REACHES 303). In our briefing Infologue.com commented “There is concern as to the robustness of the Fast Track route which has been highlighted in intelligence received by Infologue.com. On closer examination, Infologue.com found most of anecdotal examples of lack of conformance related to fast track companies that had not yet had their ACS inspection.” Currently there are 52 fast track companies that have passed their full ACS inspection and 43 companies who have passed the Standard Route. Infologue.com calls for the Fast Track route to be terminated over the next 12 months. The ACS has shown its teeth by withdrawing the right of three companies to issue Licensing Dispensation Notices (LDN’s). These companies are; Security International Group, 1st Security UK Limited and NWSG & Security Training Staff Services Ltd.
The Security Guarding Industry
This year witnessed the acquisition of Initial Security by the Mitie Group plc and The Pegasus Security Group by global facilities provider, ISS. There is anecdotal evidence that margins became tighter and labour turnover remained static for the industry as whole at 30%.