The SIA’s Future: a letter to the Home Secretary

This week, Brian Sims and Bobby Logue will join forces with key industry stakeholders in sending a letter to the Home Secretary concerning the SIA’s future.

Brian Sims – the Editor of SMT Online – and’s Editor Bobby Logue plan to approach the key security industry stakeholders in order to agree the content of a joint letter to be sent to Home Secretary Theresa May requesting her to allow them space to debate the future of the regulated security industry.

Sims and Logue strongly believe that while a move towards ‘smarter regulation’ – characterised by lower costs and less red tape but more effective in terms of delivery – is absolutely vital, it’s of equal importance for the security industry community to play a pivotal role in determining the future of our industry.

Such monumental decisions require rigorous debate, consensus and feasibility studies which are unlikely to meet the political timescales of the Government (despite the fact there’s no financial pressure on the State to reduce costs here as security regulation is industry-funded).

Placing what might happen in context

It’s important to place what could happen in context. While there’s no formal announcement in respect of the future of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), it’s abundantly evident that the Government is considering abolishing the organisation but not regulation of the security industry per se.

While the current regulatory regime runs at no cost to the Government, licensing is a financial burden upon the security sector: a sector that struggles with ever diminishing margins. This issue desperately needs to be addressed.

There are several creative ways of reducing regulation costs over time, as well as shifting regulatory control from the Government towards a community body or trust.

Undoubtedly, the issue of what the future of the security regulatory framework should look like requires time and careful, constructive debate involving all key stakeholders.

We don’t need ‘licence anarchy’

The leak of the Home Office document has been unhelpful. If given enough oxygen, it could lead to ‘licence anarchy’.

Some individuals are already asking and questioning whether or not they should renew their licences, notwithstanding the fact the SIA has made it clear the Terms and Conditions of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 remain in full force.

At its Annual Stakeholder Conference in June of this year, the Regulator announced that the industry had moved forward to the extent that it could work towards the aforementioned ‘smarter regulation’.

The SIA’s chairman Baroness Ruth Henig told delegates at The King’s Fund in central London: “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.”

The Baroness continued: “We would like to see key industry 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 and leading the drive for higher standards and innovation.”

“This means working with the SIA to explain to Parliamentarians, civil servants and those who work in the industry how regulation will evolve, and helping to achieve the goals we will all hopefully be united in pursuing.”

“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.”

Period for debate and recommendation

Once the Government has announced the outcome of its spending review, we feel the Home Secretary should allow all security industry stakeholders to debate and make recommendations to her on the way forward.

As the Editors of SMT Online and, it’s our firm belief that we should be looking at ‘smarter regulation’ which could be run initially as a Government-private sector partnership in the form of a community trust.

The reality of the situation is that certain sectors (or parts thereof) of the security industry are ready to embrace self-regulation. The Cash-and-Valuables-in-Transit sector is a good example. However, other sectors are not.

In those other sectors, such as security guarding, there’s a mixture between mature companies and those that require closer scrutiny or improvement.

At best a specious argument

The argument that the larger security companies exclusively provide quality services while smaller companies lack the ability to provide quality is, at best, specious.

There’s a case for companies who operate to a higher standard to move towards a self-regulatory model, while those companies who cannot consistently perform to the required higher standard could remain under the stewardship of the Regulator.

We believe this type of ‘smarter regulation’ or a ‘dual speed regulatory framework’ could be operated by a slimmed down Regulator. This model could lead to cost savings, in particular for self-regulated companies.

Brian Sims (editor, SMT Online) and Bobby Logue (editor,