Has the Government let the security industry down?

Bobby Logue
Infologue.com publisher, Bobby Logue

Time is running out for the Home Office to introduce the primary legislation required to initiate Business Licensing in terms of the Private Security Industry Act of 2001. There is also growing concern that Security Industry Authority (SIA) has not revealed what the overall cost of licensing will be under the new regulatory regime which is crucial in an industry that enters into two to three year contracts writes Bobby Logue. It is feared that in some cases, the overall cost of licensing may increase for some businesses. Due to recent announcements by the SIA, industry leaders fear that Business Licensing will be introduced through the “back door” which could have limited sanctions to deal with transgressors. There is a growing feeling in the security industry that the Government has let the security industry down.

In June 2010, the Chairman of the Security Industry Authority (SIA) set out a blueprint for change in the regulated private security industry. This was a significant opportunity for all stakeholders to develop a blueprint for the creation of a modern and vibrant security industry that is beneficial. One of the key areas in the blueprint was the introduction of a form of lighter touch regulation which included business licensing and a more cost efficient method of licensing individual security operatives.

The regulated private security industry consists of approximately 4000 security companies employing 378930 frontline security operatives.

In October 2010 the Government announced the abolition of the Security Industry Authority in the well reported Bonfire of the Quangos. In response the four lead bodies of the security industry formed the Security Regulation Alliance comprising of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), The Security Institute (TSI), ASIS, and the International Professional Security Association (IPSA). The objective was to convince the Government to reverse their decision on the abolition.

After much effort by the SRA, led by the BSIA Chief Executive, James Kelly, the Government announced the SIA was to be transferred to a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPA). The key element would be the introduction of Business Licensing which will focus on the last major risk in the security industry which is the “controlling minds” of security enterprises where organised criminals operate as shadow directors with impunity. Prior to the introduction of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 (PSIA) organised crime operated on the security frontline as well as running security enterprises. The SIA has reduced the former risk substantially through effective enforcement. Similarly, the private security industry plays a key role in the UK strategy on counter terrorism (CONTEST) which will provide all CONTEST partners with greater re-assurance through understanding who the controlling minds of security businesses are.

The SRA worked with the SIA in producing proposals which provided the shape of Business Licensing and the future regulatory regime. These proposals were agreed in principle by the Home Office and the Minister responsible at the time Lynne Featherstone. Her successor, Lord Taylor had indicated that the Home Office would promulgate prior to the election in 2015. For whatever reason it appears that the Government will be unable to keep this commitment.

The SIA announced on the 5th September 2013; “A summary of responses to the Home Office document Consultation on a Future Regulatory Regime for the Private Security Industry was published.

There was an excellent response to the consultation from across the private security industry and stakeholders. Overall there was good support for the Government’s proposed reforms and the majority of respondents supported the introduction of business regulation, together with a new individual licensing process.”

The SIA announced on the 14th October 2013 of their intention of proceeding with Business Licensing using secondary legislation which we understand is going to lack the ability to apply effective sanctions. We believe this could be a retrogressive step for the private security industry.