Andrew White, the Chief Executive of the NSI, writes exclusively for Infologue.com on the New Contract Quality Marque Scheme launched today. In an article setting out the workings At NSI, we recognise that raising the standard of security guarding companies’ performance is essential to sustain customer confidence and trust in the services provided. NSI’s renowned Guarding Gold scheme focuses on meeting a high level of established standards. However, I know that the better performing security guarding companies wish to differentiate themselves further by demonstrating their ability to offer contracts that achieve even higher standards. I am therefore pleased that by working together with key industry players we are able to take an important step towards achieving that desire by launching the Contract Quality Marque Scheme.
So how does it work? This unique scheme, launched today (3 November), is designed to show that individual contracts for security guarding have achieved a higher standard than those currently recognised in the industry. The scheme criteria incorporates and builds on those already required for achieving ISO 9001 and the relevant British Standards, with the prerequisite that the company is a Security Industry Authority Approved Contractor. It is important to note that the Marque will be awarded against specific contracts and not the guarding company as a whole. Thus the scheme will not prevent the security guarding company from continuing to offer other less demanding contracts to those buyers who are unwilling to consider the benefits of a contract of quality.
The Contract Quality Marque is being supported by the British Security Industry Association, Skills for Security and other key industry representatives and is designed to demonstrate to customers that the security officers contracted to them receive the benefits of improved terms and conditions, including training and development opportunities. Working conditions must be agreed with the customer in advance and include a standard working week not exceeding 48 hours. Security officers’ shifts should not normally exceed 12 hours and a minimum 30 minutes lunch break and two 15 minute breaks must also be provided. They will also be entitled to receive employer pension contributions, minimum sick pay, death-in-service insurance, payment for injury on duty and free legal representation. Security officers will need to be properly trained to meet the specific requirements of the contract, including induction and on-site training. They should also receive 32 hours paid development training in the first year of the contract and 16 hours in subsequent years. Officers will also be entitled to personal development plans. The Contract Quality Marque will also provide for customer agreement on the frequency of check-calls, supervisory and management site visits. As part of these, officers will be checked on their state of appearance, alertness and awareness to ensure they are up to the job in hand. The condition of the officer’s working environment will also be considered as well as other welfare issues. In addition to planned visits the scheme will include unscheduled, often out-of-hours, inspections. All planned visits will be carried out by NSI staff whilst the unscheduled visits will be carried out by the Security Watchdog on behalf of NSI, and to the NSI scheme criteria.
Far be it for me to speak for Terry O’Neil but I know that he is very pleased to be working with us on this initiative. By introducing unannounced visits into the more normal NSI planned inspections we both believe that the result will benefit the end user/client. By introducing this new scheme I am confident NSI will make a demonstrable contribution to the raising of standards across the guarding industry. Guarding companies will be able to offer a contract that is above the norm and acts as a differentiator against the more usual 60 hour week demanded of many security officers. Clients will be able to see that their guarding team are being treated fairly and with due regard to what should be seen as the norm for employment practices. Thus the Contract Quality Marque will be able to provide a benchmark for tender documents and provides assurance that contracts are being set to the highest standards available.