SMT and Infologue.com feel the SIA must look at ways to ensure that security officers who have paid for their licenses in good faith prior to 20 March 2006 are not disadvantaged in relation to those licensed on or after the deadline day. On Day One, the challenge for the SIA was how to licence approximately 120,000 officers before 20 March this year. In consultation with the industry, the Regulator then introduced a phased licensing programme over a period of 14 months. With massive support from the BSIA and its chief executive David Dickinson, the SIA managed to reach an agreement with most of the private security industry’s service providers for them to submit licence applications for their staff, on time and to the correct standard. In practice, some parts of the industry met that commitment, but others failed to do so. As SMT passed for press, figures issued by the SIA suggested that approximately 45,000 security officers physically possessed a licence on deadline day (with a further 24,000 able to be deployed in line with the Approved Contractor Scheme). Those companies – and/or their officers – who have complied have had to pay the licence fee of £190 per person in advance. In other words, those companies whose officers failed to obtain a licence had a double advantage over their competitors. First, it improved their cash flow and, second, extended the valid period of their licenses to a date closer to the full 36-month period of a licence.
Those individuals who had dutifully acquired their licence over the 14-month allocated time-span for doing so now have a shorter timescale on their valid licence. While SMT and Infologue.com believe that it makes perfect sense for licence renewals to be staggered, the present status quo means that compliant companies are being punished unfairly. We also feel there needs to be a full and frank debate on the Approved Contractor Scheme charges. There is a feeling among many in the industry that the current costings levied by the Regulator are perhaps too high. In addition, final details of charging and implementation were not issued until Thursday 16 February, with the Home Office having taken over three months to consider responses from the Regulatory Impact Assessment. That has not helped the industry in terms of its budgetary planning. If one were to point the finger of blame here it must surely be at the Home Office, not the SIA. Such procrastination is not acceptable in what is now a fast-paced business sector. SMT and Infologue.com suggest it is only right that the Approved Contractor Scheme charges be constructively debated. We would ask the SIA and the Home Office to review costings for the Approved Contractor Scheme as part of an open, honest and frank debate with the industry and its stakeholders. That debate must happen, and it must take place sooner rather than later.
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