90% favour security industry business registration – SIA Small Business Network Survey

A recent a survey conducted by the SIA Small Business network found little opposition to the continuation of regulation of the private security industry. Equally importantly, over 90% of approximately 200 respondents favoured business registration with minimum standards in the regulated security sector. When asked “Are you happy with the current format and process of the ACS?” 58.5% responded they were happy whilst 40.5% said they were not. Of the positive responses to this question 26.2% would like to see an enhanced scheme being introduced. When it came to the question of who should control the new regulatory regime the respondents were more divided; 26.2% wanted and industry body and 7.1% suggesting the Police run the organisation. Using the judgement of Solomon 33.3% selected a solution that would result in a mixture of an industry body, a government department and the Police running the proposed regulatory regime.

From left to right SIA SBN joint Chairmen, James Henderson, Teresa O’Neil and Mike Hurst. 2nd from left Robbie Mehtab, Treasurer.

 Passionate Comments  

Demonstrating the passion amongst the respondents was the 84 comments added to the survey and included;   

“The Police do not know enough about guarding which takes them out of the picture especially in retail, government department have already showed how they got it wrong and someone representing the Security Alliance would favour the big play(er)s and not help the smaller personally owed businesses.”   

“I feel the introduction of the SIA is a good thing, however they fail with helping small businesses”   

“I have always thought the one fundamental error or the regulator was a failure to identify and require registration for all companies providing licensable services and demand a minimum standard of all”   

The SIA Small Business Network was created in 2008 as part of the SIA Stakeholder Engagement Strategy.  Its purpose is to provide an opportunity for representatives from small businesses in the licensed sectors to meet and discuss industry issues and SIA activities. It is run independently of the SIA by experienced security industry professionals and is self-funding.  Joint Chairmen of the SIA Small Business Network are Mike Hurst, James Henderson, Teresa O’Neill. There is a regular newsletter and a LinkedIn discussion group.   

Purpose of the Survey   

Discussions take place on a regular basis between members of the SBN management team and organisations in the licensed sector. The SBN, however, felt that it would be useful for collect some empirical data to compare with the anecdotal views expressed.   

How the survey was compiled   

An on-line survey was set up on www.surveymonkey.com and companies who had sent representatives to any of the six SIA SBN meetings, those organisations who expressed an interest in the network, plus some other smaller companies were sent an invitation to complete the survey.  The invitation and link was also placed on the SIA SBN LinkedIn Group.   

Full Survey Results   

The full results of the survey and comments are set out below;   



  •  All of these need a standard and level of knowledge. The license at least ensures basic knowledge.
  • Close protection cannot be taught in a 1 month course by a civilian organisation. This just creates a number of ‘wannabe’ CPOs. It is also a waste of time ex. Military trained CPOs attending a course run by people who do not know what they are talking about.
  • Integral to our credibility
  • It would be better if there were one licence with accreditations for each skill sector, as per the driving licence.
  • Licensing in all of the above if we are to maintain the admittedly slow but steady improvement in standards
  • I feel the introduction of the SIA is a good thing, however they fail with helping small businesses
  • Event Security
  • There are too many variables, i.e. overseas teams in UK, in house teams, consultants, most teams work under the in-house rule, there’s no need for a cp badge there are so few involved, MG and Door/S can cover all costs as we know, and the cp training is so o.t.t., conflict management, evasive driving – they forget about the UK laws
  • My best opinion if asked is to merge Close Protection & Cash and Valuables in Transit together (one licence). Door Supervision & Public Space Surveillance (CCTV). While Security Guard and Key Holding merged as one licensed.
  • It has been a long hard fight to get the industry regulated and it would be of no benefit and indeed great harm to the industry to deregulate any sector
  • The person employing the guard should make sure that he/she has gone through vetting and good references.
  • This is needed to protect the public and employers



  • Depends upon the format and cost implications, particularly given the current economic climate. Whilst all for maintaining the highest standards, we cannot afford to constantly be required to pay for multiple audits to maintain so many levels of accreditation.
  • The standards currently endorsed by the SIA are well below the minimum required.
  • But must be controlled by a none profit making Industry Authority and on an independent basis
  • I do not believe that minimum standards are acceptable within our industry.
  • yes but not ACS or any form of ACS
  • Regulation should apply to companies rather than individuals.
  • if a single exam of competence and spoken English was applied
  • But what standards? Is it SIA standards or….
  • I have always thought the one fundamental error or the regulator was a failure to identify and require registration for all companies providing licensable services and demand a minimum standard of all 



  • We would need to have a method of auditing the issuing organisation and proof of their effectiveness
  • This would be abused.  Licences must be issued by a government body
  • There is a huge number of concerns regarding this; too many to list in this format. A lot of SME’s are voicing concerns on a supposed alliance merely being a platform for the “usual suspects” to bolster their own positions and making life even more difficult than at present.
  • Too much potential for abuse and forgery, a problem which is already present in SIA licensing.
  • The issue of licenses must remain independent from the security companies or the criminal element could once again become involved within our industry
  • Only if the organisation could demonstrate high standards, say in the top 10% of ACS.
  • Too many unscrupulous operators already bend the rules and further slack will lead to increased issues with those who self regulate poorly.
  • As long as it was not other security companies
  • Let Police continue with the job on CRB matters. But if any other organisations, I strongly suggest the HOME OFFICE that is if it is legally based to do so.
  • We need an independent regulator otherwise some will abuse the trust as they have in the past.
  • I’m not sure that this wouldn’t show the door to and tempt the criminality back into the industry.  I would much prefer it being dealt with by a central organisation or the local authority.
  • Leave the industry open to flaws



  • Low emphasis, at present, on the ability of an AC to run an effective organisation — (Marketing and Financial Planning).
  • this scheme should be compulsory
  • At the moment any Tom Dick and Mickey Mouse company can become an SIA Approved contractor.
  • Standards need to be raised so that only credible companies are awarded this accolade
  • I do not believe that ACS is a benefit and that ISO 9001 is a far better gauge of a company’s Systems
  • There should be some method to differentiate organisations operating at a higher standard, such as Gold, Silver and Bronze categories.
  • Generally yes, but with some caveats. In my opinion an enhanced scheme does not fit well with smaller Co’s because, compared to larger operators, resource becomes the defining issue rather than quality and value for money
  • They in no way help support small businesses, in fact they create a hug barrier for new small organisation to be able to grow and give misleading advice
  • It needs improvement. A lot of improvement
  • very one sided, great for the big boys, we use a virtual office how can we meet the inspection criteria – we can’t so we don’t make the grade – madness
  • I think the regulator should concentrate more on bringing all companies into a scheme that demands a minimum standard and not one that makes commercial judgements, leave that to other awarding bodies such as the NSI etc
  • We have not gone down this route, I think licensed companies is a much better scheme



  • I’m not convinced that this alliance would be balanced and responsive to the needs of all.
  • It doesn’t matter where the licensing process is carried out so long as rigorous agreed standards are adhered to.  Compliance by the police and trading standards as currently performed.    ACS a busted flush.  Industry competitors will/are be keen to parade their attributes.
  • An industry body would need to have strict governance and be impartial – this is going to be difficult to achieve.  The Security Alliance running the show is a complete turn off
  • No one organisation has the sole responsibility. It would be open to abuse.
  • The regulator must be impartial with no vested interests.
  • There should be a mixed input, as inevitably there would be arguments from within the industry as to who is the “natural” industry representative body. Without Police support the industry will again be viewed as unprofessional, and of course the Government makes and pushes through the legislation
  • The Police do not know enough about guarding which takes them out of the picture especially in retail, government department have already showed how they got it wrong and someone representing the Security Alliance would favour the big plays and not help the smaller personally owed businesses.
    The problem is that the larger companies have big backing from banks etc, the smaller company use their own money and therefore becomes more important, however these bodies favour the bigger companies
  • The BSIA were ideal as the organisation to run this scheme from the start. Why ‘make’ a new department with huge overheads producing huge losses as new companies do when an organisation was already in place that would just have needed tweaking!!!
  • a body that will represent the industry not cash in or create issues, we all agree licensing was needed but it has already got out of hand, the SIA tried to complicate things with its issuing of rules and regs to an industry that does not need them especially when they missed the basics such as insurance etc etc
  • For an effective outcome or productivities of the industry (SIA) The regulator must be independent of the industry and have effective sanctions to enforce requirements as exist now
  • Possibly the local authority
  • A mixture of the above but answerable to the Home Office


  • The regulation we have should be made tighter not watered down.
  • The SIA should not be dissolved. It has helped to raise standards, professionalise the industry, improve public confidence and root out the rogue element to a large degree.
  • Again, too many to write down but we would welcome the opportunity to discuss this at an appropriate time and place.
  • Why should someone who has just left the military and is cleared to Top Secret, have to undergo and pay for a CRB?
  • make sure that the whole of the security industry is treated fairly and not single out certain sectors as a cash horse
  • Let’s just hurry up so that we can get on with our jobs and servicing the clients.
  • Let’s get it sorted, we are in danger of going back to the bad old days
  • I feel that the license arrangements should remain in place but a better and more in depth training course (to include verbal and written English) should be adopted
  • Whatever body does end up running the show, I feel that representations and opinion must be taken from as wide as possible to ensure that the full spectrum of sized companies is taken into account. Regulation must remain, if anything, stiffer action should be taken against those who transgress the rules
  • The regulation is a great thing for the industry by far, however they need to talk to the smaller business more. As a company owner you cannot get a contract with ACS, however you cannot get ACS without a contract to be audited? how is that fair, the bigger companies will just buy a company a smaller family owned company has no chance with this system
  • The licence fee’s need to have an option whereas licences can be paid for via direct debit and split over the 3 years that was or introduce an annual licence fee/longer term fee such as passport style.
  • a single license which covers for all areas, CRB checks basic competence and at a cost which can be met by companies and individuals, which is understood by all not just the big boys who have taken over the industry and pushed out the smaller companies
  • Don’t let us throw away the progress that has been made to decriminalise the industry and improve its standing.
  • If S.I.A. is using a lot of government money, it should be done away with but then the authority concerned should not compromise the security situation. The police should double their efforts in Security industry.
  • Future regulations should be governed by one body and regulations must be kept simple and less complicated.
  • Pretty despondent with the whole system at the moment
  • It needs to be properly managed