SMT Online Editor Brian Sims and Bobby Logue – the Editor of Infologue.com – have written a joint statement following the BBC News story on the Regulator.
Last night, a story on the BBC News web pages referred to a leaked Home Office document apparently suggesting that the Security Industry Authority (SIA) may face the axe as part of the Government’s drive to reduce red tape and costs in the public sector and regulation domains. When approached by the BBC, the Home Office response was not an emphatic denial. What followed was some carefully chosen wording (as reported on SMT Online/info4security.com and Infologue.com).
“The Government is committed to making substantial reforms of its public bodies to increase accountability and reduce their number and cost,” said a Home Office spokesperson.
“All departments are working with the Cabinet Office and the Treasury to assess our public bodies and ensure they perform an essential role which has to be carried out by Government and cannot be provided more efficiently elsewhere.”
Crucially, the spokesperson concluded: “No final decision has been made [on the future of the SIA and security industry regulation]. We expect to make an announcement in due course.”
Analysing this Home Office response, we believe that the Home Secretary is likely to be considering a form of self regulation.
A phrase often used by the inaugural chief executive of the Regulator, John Saunders, was that regulation of the security industry would be a journey. He was absolutely right, and the security sector’s stakeholders are still on that journey. Elements of the regulated security sector are ready for self regulation, but plainly others are not.
While the cost of regulating the security sector does not drain public coffers, it may be deemed by some to be an expensive exercise in what is undoubtedly a margin-sensitive industry.
On that basis, it’s essential that solutions be developed between the SIA and the security sector which will not damage the tremendous amount of progress that has been made since the inception of regulation.
The “Let’s build the security industry together” speech given by the chairman of the SIA, Baroness Ruth Henig, at the Regulator’s annual Stakeholder Conference in June was both welcome and timely.
What we have before us is a significant opportunity for all stakeholders to develop a blueprint for the creation of a modern and vibrant security sector that’s mutually beneficial.
In her speech, Baroness Ruth Henig said: “To move forward in tackling these areas of improvement, and others, we will need to work closely with our partners and with private security industry businesses to discuss how we can share regulatory responsibilities effectively and to mutual benefit.”
The Baroness continued: “This is the time to start planning for, and working towards greater empowerment and lighter touch regulation for those working in the private security industry. We would like to see key figures and organisations, such as The Security Institute, the BSIA and Skills for Security to name but a few, as well as individual companies joining in the discussions, leading the drive for higher standards and for innovation.”
Speaking at The King’s Fund in London, The Baroness added: “This means working with the SIA to explain to Parliamentarians, civil servants and to those who work in the industry how regulation will evolve, and helping to achieve the goals we will all hopefully be united in pursuing.”
In conclusion, Baroness Henig said: “You can all help the SIA to move forward, building on the benefits of regulation which have been achieved so far, and working together to drive forward a joint agenda of professionalisation of the industry and of higher skill levels and continuous training for those who work within it.”
What’s required now is serious debate and consultation between all security industry stakeholders which will result in the security industry and its dedicated Regulator presenting a mutually agreed plan to the Home Secretary and the Home Office on the way forward.
What the security sector does not need is a hastily put together plan that undoes all the excellent progress that has been made in professionalising our sector since the inception of regulation in 2003.
We as Editors of the security profession’s leading media – SMT Online/info4 security.com and Infologue.com – request that the Home Secretary afford the security industry sufficient time to develop such a plan.
Bobby Logue, Editor, Infologue.com
Brian Sims, Editor, SMT Online