Prepare for your ACS assessment with NSI experts

The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) is an independent assessment body for the SIA Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS). ACS is increasingly becoming a mandatory requirement for buyers of manned security services. It is a distinct approval demonstrating your company has been independently assessed against recognised standards and helps to ensure the services your company delivers more closely reflect your buyers’ requirements.

Our knowledgeable experts will guide you through the process. You will be assigned one of our specialist ACS assessors who will work with you to plan and carry out your assessment and verify how you meet the ACS criteria using the completed self-assessment workbook. The assessment will highlight all areas of good practice, improvement options and any improvement needs. Improvement needs must be addressed and re-assessed before a recommendation can be made to the SIA to give its approval decision.

Here are some ways that you can prepare to make the most of your ACS assessment:

1. Involve all the departments in your company in the completion of the self-assessment work-book. This gives you a much better insight into how you can demonstrate your company is meeting the requirements of the 78 indicators in the workbook. Open discussion between departments can lead to the realisation you are achieving a much higher level than originally thought. It can also help to establish a vision for continual improvement.

2. Remember the self-assessment workbook is a tool for you to assess your company and encourage you to improve year on year. If it is applied in this spirit the chances are you and your customers will benefit from the process.

3. Ensure there is good communication between you and your organisation and your NSI assessor in advance of the assessment. The NSI assessor will have a good sense of how and where your organisation operates and the range of services that you provide.

4. Ensure you provide the information requested by your assessor in a timely manner. This enables your NSI assessor not only to prepare the visit plan in accordance with the ACS planning guidelines, but ensures any key aspects specific to your business are taken into account. You will receive your visit plan from your assessor in good time.

5. Always check your visit plan thoroughly when you receive it. If there are any issues or queries in the visit plan don’t wait until the assessment to have these clarified – contact your NSI assessor promptly, so you can address these before the assessment takes place.

6. An important part of the assessment is the interview process. As well as ensuring key members of your team are available for interview during the assessment, ask some of your customers to be involved. Their involvement in the interview process is essential. Remember your NSI assessor is only able to recommend approval if they have an overall picture of how you provide your service delivery

7. Ensure your front line staff are aware the assessment is being undertaken and that the NSI assessor may ask to interview some individual staff. Encourage them to be open with the NSI assessor. The NSI assessor is there to review what happens in practice within an organisation and security officers are well-placed to give them an essential and valuable part of the picture.

8. Review your self-assessment prior to meeting with the NSI assessor. Think about how you can demonstrate to the NSI assessor the ways in which you meet the requirements. Remember not everything has to be documented. The various interviews can also confirm company practices.

9. If you have had a previous assessment ensure you have considered any improvement options raised in the past. Improvement options are raised as suggestions to help improve your business performance.

10. Be sure to highlight to the NSI assessor any initiatives you consider to be good practice. These can be initiatives, processes or procedures you have implemented that you feel exceed normal practice in the industry.

To find out more about how NSI can help with your ACS approval, click here for further information, contact our expert Applications Team via email at or call either Kevin Carty, 01628 764854, Michelle Dennehy, 01628 764855 or Louise Enser, 01628 764838. We would be delighted to guide you through the steps your business needs to take to secure your ACS approval.

To find out more about NSI guarding approval schemes from static and retail guarding to event stewarding, baggage screening, canine handling, door supervision, keyholding and mobile security which assess against British and international standards click here.

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