In his latest blog for Infologue, John Briggs, operations director for First Security, discusses the new business licensing laws that come into effect in April 2015, and the impact on businesses for non-compliance.
“As of 7 April 2015, any business providing security services, whether directly or through third parties, will need to hold a new Security Industry Authority (SIA) business licence to continue to trade as a security provider, or they will be committing a criminal offence.
“At present, there are around 750 companies in the SIA’s Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) however, this does not guarantee automatic compliance under the new business licensing laws. These businesses, plus the additional 4,000 or so companies not licensed with the ACS, will have to prove competency in the delivery of their specified security services. Failure to successfully achieve this will have dire consequences on the ability of a business to legally operate as a security provider.
“Businesses can submit applications for the new business licence from 7 April 2014. The SIA has released advice for all businesses within the security industry to submit their applications no later than 1 October 2014 to have the best opportunity for their application to be reviewed before the 7 April 2015 enforcement date. Otherwise, businesses risk not having their application reviewed in time to meet the deadline, and therefore, cannot continue to trade after 6 April 2015.
“The SIA has revealed little in the way of defining the full application process. However, they have made it known that businesses and individuals will be vetted separately.
“The screening of individuals extends to any person within the business that occupies a role of ‘director’. The SIA is requesting specific details on the identified individuals, including any history of criminal activity. Based on the details of the individual’s involvement in the business, the SIA will determine the ‘controlling minds’ of that business. The SIA will then assess both the individuals and the business against the required criteria to determine the business’s competency to deliver the stated security services, granting or declining the business license.
“The SIA has identified five areas of the criteria in which both individuals and businesses will be assessed; identity, criminality, financial probity, integrity and competence.
“For identity, it’s likely the SIA will look at whether the business and controlling minds are legitimate in who they say they are. It’s through criminality the SIA will decipher whether any CCJs, health and safety actions, or government authority prosecutions have been brought against the company or its controlling minds. Publically held financial information on the business and individual will go some way in influencing assessment of financial probity. Integrity is expected to involve compliance as well as the way the business is run and competence will probably look at whether the business can successfully carry out the services specified.
“It is thought the vetting process of controlling minds will be much more stringent and in-depth than any previous screening by the SIA. In essence, companies will be informing the SIA of the services they provide, and then a judgment will be made on whether that business is competent to perform those services.
“For smaller companies this process will be fairly straightforward, however larger companies will find this a very drawn out procedure through the requirement to declare all individuals performing a director role.
“These new licensing laws extend to businesses providing security services through third parties such as sub-contractors. Basically, if a business is in contract to deliver a security service, directly or indirectly, that business must be licensed under the new laws. Any third party delivering security services must also be licensed, and so on.
“This may mean that some providers – such as those who offer facilities management – may no longer be able to provide security as part of their package if they are not granted a license to do so under these new laws. Even if they employ another company to carry out the security services and don’t facilitate the provision themselves, they will still have to go through this vetting process to obtain a license.
“It’s also likely there will be an issue if certain security businesses have a parent company that is located abroad. Directors of the parent company may be classified as controlling minds, and so the SIA will have to investigate those as well.
“So, the impetus is now on all businesses offering security services, directly or indirectly, to start preparing their application in order to submit on time. If for some reason they have not applied correctly by October, or they miss the entry window, their license may be refused. So, my advice to security providers is to be as prepared as possible, and to keep in mind the deadlines at each stage of the application; should a business license not be granted by April 2015 that business will cease to legally operate as a security services provider.”
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