Post-20 March, it is illegal to work as a contracted security officer in England and Wales without an SIA licence (or an official Licence Dispensation Notice issued in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of the Approved Contractor Scheme). To obtain a licence, a security officer must – at the very least – take part in a four-day training course culminating in a formal, nationally-recognised qualification, be subjected to a criminal records check via the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and also take part in an identity check (designed to establish that they are who they say they are). As the law stands at present, if the same security officer were instead to be employed directly by a company (ie in-house) on a non-alcohol licensed premises then he or she does not require licensing, training, to be subjected to identity checks or even a criminal record check. When hearing of this anomaly for the first time at a recent SIA Breakfast Briefing (‘Regulation “must be policed” states CBI boss’, News Update, SMT, December 2005, p7), CBI director general Sir Digby Jones expressed shock, anger and dismay that such a situation had arisen. “To not regulate the in-house element of security provision cannot be right,” said Jones. “Indeed, many would say that it is sheer madness.” The CBI supremo is not the only dissenting voice. For some years now, SMT has been fielding telephone calls and written correspondence from in-house corporate security managers who run officer teams compiled either from a mixture of in-house and contracted personnel, or solely in-house operatives.
These managers are seriously worried that the only security personnel they’ll be able to recruit (at least in the short term, anyway) will include at least some – if not most – of the SIA’s estimated 30% of contract sector officers who fail to gain a licence to operate in the private sector. There is a genuine concern that in-house security provision will become a ‘dumping ground’ for these operatives, who are plainly not up to the task for reasons of previous criminality or lack of training, etc. In addition, security officers that have direct access to members of the general public, and play an active role in ensuring the safety of the public, could very easily lack the necessary ingredients that form the platform on which a professional security officer can be developed. In an interview conducted by Infologue.com back in June 2004, the SIA’s chief executive John Saunders referred to the inclusion of in-house security officers within the scope of regulation. “We aim to come to a considered and factual conclusion by the middle of this year.”
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