The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has announced the key changes from the latest review of its flagship Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) for private security businesses. The changes will take effect on 1 April 2019.
The ACS was established in 2006 with a stated purpose ‘to protect the public and to maintain and improve standards in the private security industry’. The ACS has undergone a number of reviews but this latest review took a root and branch look at the scheme.
Evidence from the extensive consultation suggested that the SIA did not need to make fundamental changes to the scheme. However, it was clear from the responses there were opportunities to make improvements.
The changes that have been made are rooted in the feedback from the consultation. They include:
An update to the standard to place more of an emphasis on service delivery and less of an emphasis on processes. This will help businesses to drive improvement to the service that they provide for customers. The new ACS standard will be mandatory from 1 April 2019. All approved contractors have until this date to ensure they are ready to be assessed against the indicators in the new self-assessment workbook (SAW).
A revised Self-Assessment Workbook (SAW). This contains the quality indicators that approved contractors must demonstrate have been met. The SAW has been streamlined and made clearer and easier to navigate. Go to the SIA website to view the new SAW and a Summary of the High-Level changes to the SAW.
A revised eligibility and “fit and proper” criteria to ensure only sound, sustainable and credible companies are able to join the scheme. The enhanced scrutiny will give clients and local enforcement partners the assurance that they are working with some of the best run businesses in the industry.
A firmer approach with PAYE. Approved contractors must give justification and evidence as to why their staff are not PAYE. This will help ensure that businesses are employing staff on the right basis, ensuring compliance with tax and Employment Law as well as making sure that employees of approved contractors enjoy proper employment rights.
The SIA is revising its approach to how it markets the ACS and provides support for businesses. This will include more support, via a resource centre, for applicants and existing businesses to meet or exceed minimum ACS requirements.
The SIA has published a detailed briefing on the changes resulting from the review in a special edition of ACS update.
Since the review was concluded two key developments have taken place which will benefit Approved Contractors:
Crown Commercial Service, through whose commercial agreements £13bn of public sector procurement spend is channelled, have agreed that membership of the Approved Contractors Scheme will be a mandatory requirement of becoming a supplier on Lot 1 A of their major Facilities Management (FM) Marketplace agreement in England & Wales.
The revised ACS is being endorsed publicly by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), giving a clear steer to buyers of security that approved contractors are preferred by police forces.
SIA Director of Operations and Standards, Stephen McCormick said:
“Since the ACS scheme was launched in 2006 we have made incremental changes which have ensured the standard has been raised.
“During this review, we consulted extensively with approved contractors and the wider private security industry to fundamentally test the integrity of the ACS and its ability to drive improvement. Our evidence tells us that the scheme has achieved this aim and has had a transformational effect in driving up standards within the industry.
“We are building on a successful quality standard and have made a number of key changes which will strengthen the scheme.
“Our aim for the future of the ACS is a growing partnership with private security industry businesses that demonstrate the value and contribution they make to UK PLC.”