David Dickinson – SIA – Some further thoughts

David Dickinson
David Dickinson

Following on from Peter Webster’s article ‘The new SIA licensing system is a cause for concern‘, David Dickinson, the former Chief Executive of the British Security Industry Association, suggests possible improvements to the Security Industry Authority (SIA). David writes: “The regulated sector of our industry owes a debt of gratitude to Peter Webster for his carefully thought-out critique of the lack of service currently provided by the SIA. It was, supposedly, to provide a better and more efficient service to both licence applicants, licence holders and employers. Peter’s blog is all the more telling because of the careful and unemotional way in which he presents a damning condemnation of the Authority.

“Fourteen years ago, the SIA took its first faltering steps to becoming the industry Regulator. That period was fraught with difficulties for all, not least because of the intransigence of other government departments and the almost complete lack of knowledge of the sectors they were about to regulate. But that period was also one of consultation, co-operation, negotiation and a willingness to discuss rather than impose. In short, we all worked together towards a common goal! (On reflection, perhaps ‘all’ is too wide a description, but all right-minded people saw co-operation as the only way forward!)

“That was during a somewhat prolonged formative period, when knowledge needed to be gained, strong personalities understood and competing claims for influence dealt with. Today, there is a mature relationship between the Regulator and the regulated and there was, perhaps, good reason to believe that the new arrangements would be a real improvement. They still might be, but delays and lack of communication are unpardonable. The decision to close the contact centre is inexplicable and the continued delays, with consequently huge impacts on businesses, large and small, inexcusable.

“The SIA is a supplier of a statutory service to a totally captive market, and paid for in full by that captive market. Everyone reading this knows precisely what would happen to their business if they behaved in a similar fashion. No real explanation has been offered so far by the SIA, and the very least they owe their captive clients is a line-by-line response to Peter’s critique. But maybe the SIA is gradually, even unknowingly, spreading its net further from its statutory duties than perhaps it ought. There is no mention in legislation of their becoming involved in equal opportunities and the other politically-correct activities so beloved of government departments nor must we lose sight of the fact that the Approved Contractor Scheme was a permissible activity, rather than a statutory responsibility.

“Perhaps the time has come for the SIA to explore, again, the option of transferring the ACS to a new industry body, possibly provided by appointees from the key trade associations and the two most respected Inspectorates. That would give the Authority the chance to concentrate on doing properly what it must do, leaving aside that which is optional. The ACS might well then have real, qualitative, merit. Once freed from the interference of other government departments and with cross-sector support, the rating of ACS companies would then have real value for purchaser and supplier alike!”.

“The blog above was written some hours before the SIA published their latest update. Despite the emollient words, their document really only confirms that fact that the project, although already months behind schedule, was not fit for purpose in July. The fact that they are only now, at the end of September, engaging extra staff and providing the more powerful technology that is actually needed, speaks volumes!”.