As chairman of the UK Chapter. I am mindful that with over 700 members in the UK, drawn from a cross section of the security community, I cannot claim that my comments represent the views of the entire membership; they are very much my personal opinions. I would ask ASIS members to join in the debate if they feel they have an alternative view to my own. I commend Brian Sims and Bobby Logue for launching this debate. I don’t wholly agree with all of their ideas but I do believe that the issues raised are extremely important and need to be addressed if we are to move the industry forward.”
Campaign 1: Licensing of in-house officers
There can be little doubt that the failure to include in-house officers seriously undermines the whole logic of licensing. If we assume that a major justification for licensing was to increase the public’s confidence in the security sector, how can this be achieved when a significant minority operate below the radar? How do you or I know that the officer patrolling a city centre at night has been through proper training and vetting if in-house teams are exempt? I don’t deny that there will be many obstacles put in the Regulator’s way when tackling this sector but it is an issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later.
Campaign 2: Equal representation
I’m not certain that the SIA Board should have industry representation. I see the SIA as our industry Regulator, nothing more, nothing less. The Board of the SIA is there to drive and oversee the operation of the SIA, not to drive the industry forward single handed. That job is ours to do and we should find a suitable vehicle to do it with, inviting the SIA to assist in developing strategy as an equal partner not a dominant force.
Campaign 3: Fair charging
A phased approach to licensing, whilst creating a temporary commercial advantage to those leaving it late, proved to be in the best interests of the majority of the industry. In the medium term, the companies that were better organised and didn’t try to cheat have already benefited by picking up work from those who tried to be clever. In an industry with staff turnover exceeding 30% per year, the issue of licenses expiring a few months early pales into insignificance. I can’t get my head round the huge cost of licensing and do sympathise with those enlightened buyers of security who buy on value not cost. They must be wondering what they have got for their money. The cost of ACS, though similarly hard to understand, will at least pay some dividend if the scheme develops the standards necessary to genuinely improve the industry. My greater concern is actually whether the larger players in our industry have the appetite for change or would prefer things left as they are.
Campaign 4: Cutting red tape
This whole issue of dual or even triple licensing is of course madness. This is an area where wider consultation with practitioners would have helped, though I’m sure the industry had it’s hand in this somewhere, with special interest groups messing it up for everyone else. However we got there, we do need to address this issue very quickly. There is a huge level of misunderstanding out there and a pragmatic solution needs to be found.
I look forward to seeing how this debate unfolds.
Stuart Lowden, Chairman ASIS International, UK Chapter