I was pleased that we were able to start the New Year with the announcement of licence and ACS fee reductions from 1 January. We had held fee levels since 2007 and, through continuing improvements to working practices, we have been able to reduce our costs further and pass the benefits on to individuals and ACS companies. This will save the industry £3m over the next year and, I hope, gives an indication of our commitment to developing and improving the way we work.
As an accountant I have to keep my training up to date and, as a part of this, in December I attended the CIPFA Central Government Finance Conference. The agenda included a section on changes within central government finance and the challenges faced in supporting the Government’s austerity measures.
As part of our work to engage with other partners and organisations, I have met with colleagues from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and BSIA. Work in preparing for the Olympics is also well underway and forms a key part of my agenda. We’re working with security companies to ensure they are prepared and ready for the mammoth requirement for private security over the summer and during the Olympics.
At the beginning of January I was invited to speak at the Public Procurement Task Force (Scotland) group to discuss SIA changes and the role of the ACS, in particular the role played by the ACS in helping to reduce the risk from organised crime. My presentation gave an overview of the new regulatory regime and provided an opportunity for me to get valuable feedback from those attending.
This month the Board and I visited Northern Ireland: meeting the Justice Minister, attending a networking event with approved contractors and industry representatives, as well as discussing the role out of licensing in Northern Ireland with the Justice Committee.
I spoke at the GMB Security conference in Manchester and was pleased to meet with representatives from across the country and discuss proposed changes to regulation. I was particularly interested to hear the results of the survey that GMB had carried out among its members on security industry licensing. Overall there was continued support for a licensing regime, with the overwhelming majority of security officers wanting to see the current system built upon.