Having spent his first hundred days at the helm of the BSIA, Chief Executive James Kelly shares exclusively with his first impressions of the security industry and outlines his strategy for taking the Association forward. 

“My first few months of leadership at the BSIA have certainly been busy. Engaging with members and key industry stakeholders including government and other security bodies has enabled me to gain a good understanding of the priorities for both the Association and the private security industry as a whole. From these initial introductions, it is my perception that cooperation within the industry is generally good. The BSIA enjoys productive relationships with both the Security Institute and Skills for Security. However, while such relationships are important, it is my view that the Association has become too close to the Security Industry Authority, resulting in a reluctance to effectively challenge the regulator.”

“Being able to demonstrate the quality of their products and services is an ongoing priority for BSIA members, and the Association has worked hard over recent years to play an active role in the development and continuation of standards across the industry. With this in mind, it is my view that the SIA’s Approved Contractor Scheme is no longer fit for purpose as a quality differentiator for security companies. Instead, it has become an entry-level hallmark seen as essential by many end users due to its having been issued by a Government body. What was intended to act as a differentiator has in fact had the opposite effect, and over the coming months, the BSIA will be working towards re-establishing BSIA membership as the determinant of quality for private security companies, enabling our members derive a real competitive and reputational advantage from their membership of the BSIA.”

“The real meaning of quality, too, is a message that the BSIA will be driving home to procurement personnel in client companies, for whom the economic downturn seems to have clouded their judgment with regard to sourcing quality security personnel. Cost has become the determining factor in procurement, often without the consideration of overall quality of service and standards, and it is the BSIA’s mission to re-educate procurement personnel to take an increasingly holistic view.”

“Recent highly-publicised comments made by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson highlight that, while consumer perceptions of security officers have improved over recent years, the industry can still do more to improve the public’s view of private security personnel. During the past few months, I have travelled across the country to present the BSIA’s Security Personnel Awards and have been privileged enough to meet some of the individuals within our industry who have been recognised for their humbling acts of bravery. The BSIA will continue to seek recognition and promotion of the contribution made by such dedicated individuals.”

“The main challenge faced by the Association in the short-term will obviously be capitalising upon existing relationships by establishing new contacts within the next Government, including civil servants and special advisors, encouraging a continued recognition that the private security industry is an essential partner in providing a safe environment for UK business and society.”

“Helping members gain true value from membership through the BSIA’s support of their business goals is also a key focus point for the Association going forward. For the first time, the BSIA will operate to a detailed business plan, incorporating a set of strategic corporate goals for both the Association as a whole and for each individual section of membership. From there, we intend to establish common ground amongst membership to formulate sector-wide policies, which can then serve as public statements. Over the coming weeks I will be writing to every member to get their views on what we should be doing for them as an extra validation to the strategic direction that we have formed in partnership with the Sections.”

“To conclude, I feel that the industry as a whole continues to exert expanding influence over decision-makers at the highest levels. However, there is still much work to be done in cementing this influence by taking a stronger message forward to stakeholders on behalf of the Association, a task to which I intend to be fully committed over the coming years.”

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