The view of the Regulated Private Security Industry in 2013

Bobby Logue publisher, Bobby Logue

When we were preparing the 2013 Annual Review we referred to our 2012 security industry analysis, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be”, and eerily found we were repeating ourselves on the following issues:

  • Downward spiraling of margins;
  • the Olympic Security Debacle;
  • the loss of appetite by the Home Office to implement primary legislation;
  • a call for the industry to act as a perfect storm approaches.

Replace the Olympic Security Debacle with the issues on Ministry of Justice tagging and we have Groundhog Day!!!

Margins in 2013 continued to travel south. One industry specialist suggested that if the current level of poor margins continues it could lead eventually to a catastrophic failure of service. It is unlikely that anyone has come up with a magic formula of providing excellent service without the necessary overheads covering frontline management, security expertise, training, recruitment etc and maintain a fair profit, which leads us to believe service delivery will eventually become unsustainable. In respect of security expertise, it is sad to note that there are only five security professionals who are active in the regulated security sector that are on the Register of Chartered Security Professionals (CySP). Is this an indication that our industry has become a manpower supply business as opposed to the delivery of professional security services?

In last year’s analysis we highlighted the study Security Research Initiative Report, led by Professor Martin Gill who commented to at the time: “Security is facing a challenging time. The evidence suggests that security is not in a poor state, but there are issues that need to be addressed. The security sector needs to respond in a more co-ordinated way in highlighting with evidence what you get from a good security company that you don’t get from a bad one, and it needs to show how this can and is being achieved cost effectively.”

Our question to the Industry is simply this: Can all stakeholders work together in taking a fresh look at our industry, defining a roadmap to establishing a modern professional regulated security industry?

The regulated security industry is changing rapidly with the introduction of smart technology which enhances the performance of security personnel as well as additional responsibilities on frontline personnel. In contrast the training of frontline security personnel (Security Guarding) has barely changed since the inception of regulation whereas the requirements of the modern security officer spans the use of technologies, as well as in many cases acting as first responders to medical and fire emergencies. The regulated security industry refers to frontline security operatives as security guards, which is believed in some quarters to be derogatory term. believes the correct modern title is Security Officer. It is sad that there is no clear career path for a security officer in the private security industry which is an area that requires addressing. The one size fits all security officer (guard) license should be re-examined to accommodate the different skills and competencies required by a modern security officer.

In our report last year we wrote about Procurement being in control of the price dominated procurement processes. If we were buyers working to current security service offerings would we come to the same conclusion that all things being equal, price is the only criteria used in the procurement of security services? The first regulator of the Security Industry Authority, John Saunders, spoke of the issue of Contract Promiscuity being one of the ills of the security sector. In the view of, this issue has deteriorated further over the past ten years. is of the opinion that Gill is correct in stating that security facing a challenging time, however without structural reform it is unlikely that the regulated security industry will meet its challenges. Martin Gill suggests further that the security sector should respond in a more co-ordinated way in demonstrating the difference between a good security company and a bad one. We believe that it is difficult for a buyer to understand what a good security company looks like. One of the key criteria for selection of a so called “good company” is the SIA’s Approved Contractors Scheme (ACS). Satisfactory or good companies are scored between 1 and 174. We believe that such a range in defining the effectiveness of a security company is too wide and creates confusion.

There are approximately 3,000 security businesses operating in the regulated security sector, with approximately 25% (751) of the companies have ACS accreditation.

With the advent of Business Licensing it likely the form of the ACS will change. has always been and will continue to be a supporter of the ACS or an industry Hallmark Scheme (as the case may be) but believes the method of measurement needs to be simpler and easy to understand. believes it is time for the Regulator, in consultation with the regulated security industry to raise the bar on standards to enable a measurable differentiation to take place in the regulated security market.

In respect of Business Licensing, believes the Security Regulation Alliance is working with the SIA and the Home Office on finalising outstanding industry concerns in this regard. wishes its readers a Merry Xmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2014

Bobby Logue
Publisher –