It is clear that the current economic climate is a real challenge for the security industry, writes Security Industry Authority, Director of Compliance, Intelligence and Communication, Dave Humphries, exclusively for Infologue.com; that is why the SIA has been working hard to deliver a better service to customers and striving to drive down costs where possible.
As part of this commitment, from 1 January 2012 individual licences for all sectors will be reduced from £245 to £220. Annual charges to businesses for membership of the Approved Contractor Scheme will also be reduced from £17 to £15 per employee. The reductions will save the industry £3m over the coming year.
Future of regulation – what’s happening to the SIA?
At the moment it is business as usual and there will be no major changes to SIA regulation or the Approved Contractor Scheme before the 2012 Olympic Games.
The key components of future regulation include a new regulatory body outside of government, the licensing of businesses, the registration of individuals deemed fit and proper to work in the private security industry; all underpinned by effective compliance and enforcement.
We have been meeting with stakeholders throughout the year at events, network meetings, forums, roadshows and conferences to ensure that those working in the industry are informed of developments and proposals. We have used our social media sites to hold topical debates with our followers.
Formal proposals will go out to public consultation in 2012 and will be subject to final approval from the Home Office. Future regulation in Scotland and Northern Ireland will be subject to decision by the devolved administrations. A separate consultation on the position of future regulation in Northern Ireland will be undertaken by the Department of Justice; the SIA’s draft plan will form part of this consultation. The potential regulation of other sectors will be reviewed as part of the development of the new regulatory framework.
The Approved Contractor Scheme
The Approved Contractor Scheme has now passed its fifth year of operation and the scheme continues to grow. In the past year, 130 new approvals have been granted and the SIA has now received more than 1,400 applications for approval since the ACS was launched. Over 720 businesses are currently approved including nearly 200 ‘micro’ businesses with 10 or fewer members of staff. Around 130,000 licensed operatives work for an approved contractor, with ACS-employed operatives making up an estimated 70% of those working in the industry. Continual improvement is central to the ACS and membership criteria continues to be strengthened.
Licensing and customer service
The SIA wants ensure that it is delivering an efficient and high quality service to customers. The better our customer service the more easily we can achieve our regulatory outcomes and fulfil our function as a regulator.
We were pleased to be awarded the Customer Service Excellence standard following an in-depth review and external assessment of the organisation. This means that our service has been shown to meet Government standards of excellence, and is benchmarked against other high-performing organisations.
In the autumn, we introduced a new SMS messaging service, which now sends texts to current licence holders to remind them that their licences are due for renewal.
Application forms continue to be processed at an efficient rate and on average; we process more than 90% of all correctly completed applications within 25 working days.
We set ourselves high licensing and customer service targets. We are pleased to be meeting them and will continue to review and improve our service next year.
Compliance and enforcement
For regulation to be successful there must be fair and proportionate enforcement actions against those who choose not to comply with the law, and support for those across the industry that are compliant with the law.
From the SIA’s compliance and enforcement activity, we know that compliance with licensing requirements remains at above 90%. In the past 12 months, as well as supporting partners, such as the police, in taking forward many prosecutions, we have has successfully prosecuted 14 cases, issued more than 230 written warnings and improvement notices and revoked 2,647 licences.
The number of valid SIA licences currently stands at more than 368,000, and, demonstrating how licensing has helped to improve skills and training, more than 788,000 licence-linked security qualifications have been passed.
There have been significant improvements at the SIA and across the private security industry over the past 12 months. With the Olympic and Paralympic Games, 2012 will be an exciting year for all of us and there is much work to be done to ensure that the summer games are a success.
The SIA will continue to work with and listen to enforcement partners, security suppliers, security buyers and front line staff to ensure that their needs are incorporated as the developments for the future of the industry continue.
The SIA encourages those working in the private security industry to participate in the forthcoming consultations to ensure that their opinions and experiences are heard.
We are confident that the industry is more than capable to meet the demands and challenges that 2012 and beyond will bring.