The ugly spectre of security training malpractice has raised itself once again. The BBC Inside Out Programme sent an undercover reporter posing as a student to Ashley Commerce College, in Ilford, East London and The London School of Social Studies in East Ham to uncover fraudulent training practices. Until a thorough investigation has been undertaken it is impossible to estimate how many SIA licences have been issued as a result of the alleged fraudulent practices by these two colleges. This potentially places many business installations at risk. Training certification, as well as a criminality check and the right to work in the UK are key requirements of the SIA licence which is a legal requirement to work in the UK Private Security Industry, writes Infologue.com publisher, Bobby Logue.
Infologue.com understands that whilst the SIA is responsible for the content of the regulatory security licensing qualifications, the management of the process is undertaken by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). This body regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland. Ofqual maintains standards and confidence in qualifications: GCSEs and A levels in England, and vocational qualifications in both England and Northern Ireland. They are independent of government and report directly to Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Infologue.com is of the opinion that Ofqual needs to manage the regulated security training process better. The ever increasing requirement for improved private security as a result of the heightened multi faceted risks facing this country requires well trained security personnel. If legally permitted, consideration should be given to the SIA taking over the management of security training in the regulated private security sector.
It is alleged that Ashley Commerce College (ACC), Ilford offered to “fast track” the researcher to becoming a qualified bodyguard – which the SIA says should take 140 hours of training. The BBC alleges that the ACC manager Haji Yunis said: “No, you only have to do the paperwork.”
The BBC Programme goes on to relate:
“How the researcher was introduced to security trainer Tony Bainbridge, who told him to turn off his phone before reading out answers to exams and instructing him to copy large sections of somebody else’s exam. A would-be bodyguard was present, having the answers dictated to him so he could be fraudulently licensed. Mr Bainbridge boasted: “You’re doing 14 days [training] in three hours.”
“The London School of Social Studies in East Ham is also alleged to have offered the corrupt service. An employee told the researcher: “We’re going to do your exam for you.”
“With a fraudulently obtained SIA licence, a BBC researcher got a job offer at a power station and an interview to guard Canary Wharf.”
Keith Vaz MP called it “a major scandal” and “one of the most shocking things I’ve seen in all the years I’ve chaired the Home Affairs Select Committee”.
Mr Vaz MP vowed to raise the issue with the Home Secretary at the next Home Affairs Select Committee. He said: “I’m horrified. We’re talking about a major scandal in Britain’s security industry.
The Home Office needs to act extremely urgently.”
A spokesman for the SIA, which reports to the Home Office, said: “We take allegations of training malpractice seriously.
“When the BBC shares the information it is holding on training malpractice, we will take immediate action against the licensed individuals concerned in order to protect public safety.”
The certificates the BBC obtained during its investigation were issued by the examining board Industry Qualifications (IQ), which awards them based on exam papers and other information received by assessment centres.
In a statement it said: “IQ welcomes the BBC investigation and will mount a full investigation into the conduct of the centres concerned, following the broadcast of the programme.
“IQ takes a zero tolerance attitude towards malpractice, and will involve the police if fraud is evidenced and take appropriate civil action.
“Our first concern will be to withdraw certification from candidates where doubts exist, and work with the affected students to undertake re-assessment quickly.”
The BBC has destroyed the SIA card it obtained. Its researcher did not commence any work obtained with the licence.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We take allegations of malpractice very seriously and any criminal behaviour will be addressed.”
Following today’s BBC Investigation, IQ has the following statement for those who have studied IQ qualifications at Ashley Commerce College:
“This morning (Monday 23rd March) the BBC broadcast news of “security guard fraud exposed by underground researchers” alleged to have taken place at Ashley Commerce College, Ilford. Their report mentions security guard and ‘body guard’ qualifications, and it is believed that door supervision qualifications are also implicated.
“We know that this will leave many learners who attended ACC worried about the authenticity of their qualifications and IQ is working hard to find out how many learners may be affected. So far the BBC has not shared their evidence with IQ so we are not in a position yet to say how individual learners will be affected.
“The purpose of this statement is to outline the actions we will take, as the facts become clear, and to assure learners that IQ is doing all it can to move quickly. The following points should provide some clarity, and we will update this statement as and when the BBC provides us with all its evidence.
- Ashley Commerce College is the only IQ centre that we know of affected
- Currently, all learners who gained SIA-approved security qualifications from Ashley Commerce College are potentially affected
- Where we cannot guarantee that a qualification has not been affected by fraud, we are required to remove the qualification immediately and notify the Security Industry Authority (SIA)
- Where there is no evidence of fraud, either from the BBC or from our own investigations, we will notify learners and the SIA immediately, and those learners will be removed from the list of potentially affected learners
- Learners who are found to be affected will be given the opportunity to take or re-take the relevant test(s), details to follow shortly
- The exam board regulator Ofqual is being kept informed of all developments
- IQ will be informing the Metropolitan Police
- Any learners who have been the victim of fraud should also contact the police
IQ will add updates as and when they have something new to say – please keep checking the IQ website if you believe you may be affected.”