Today the SIA celebrates 10 years as the regulator of the UK’s private security industry.
The SIA was established as a result of industry lobbying and was created by Parliament with The Private Security Industry Act 2001. The core purpose was to contribute to the Home Office’s crime reduction agenda: with the vision to reduce criminality and raise standards in the private security industry so that the public is, and feels, safer.
The SIA was launched in London on 2 April 2003. Since then the SIA has worked with the industry to: license individuals, recognise excellence with the Approved Contractor Scheme, prevent unsuitable people from working in the security industry, and to ensure that those individuals who flout the law are removed from working in licensable roles.
The road to regulation, although not always smooth, has been effective. Since its launch the SIA has issued almost one million licences across seven sectors. Within that time, over 900,000 licence-linked qualifications have been awarded and, with exception of the Food Safety award, these qualifications are the most popular vocational qualifications in the UK.
For many people the SIA licence-linked qualification is the first formal qualification they have achieved, for others, it provides a stepping stone to further achievement.
The Approved Contractor Scheme provides a hallmark of quality for security providers and reassurance for security buyers and the public. There are now 755 approved contractors across the UK, which accounts for around 70% of the manned guarding sector. More and more buyers insist on ACS companies to provide their security, and the Scottish Government has pledged that they will only award publicly funded security contracts to ACS companies.
Regulation isn’t simply about issuing licences; it’s also about ensuring that those with licences act in accordance to the law. Since 2003 the SIA has prosecuted over 50 cases in court and revoked over 30,000 licences.
Information is important for the SIA to be successful in maintaining compliance with the law. Over the last 10 years this information has come from a variety of sources, these include:
• Over 20,000 pieces of intelligence from the general public,
• Over 16,000 intelligence reports from our enforcement partners that include the police, UKBA and HMRC,
• Over 3,500 through Crimestoppers, and
• Over 6,500 pieces of intelligence gathered as a result of our own investigations.
These statistics exemplify the close working relationship the SIA has developed with the public, the industry, charities and other government enforcement agencies over the past 10 years.
The SIA has always strived to offer value for money for the licence payer. In 2003 there was only one channel for licence application and that was paper based. Today there are four channels: telephone, online, e-fill and paper.
As a result of improved licensing systems the SIA is able to process licence applications well above its target. In February 2013, 87% of all licence applications were processed within 25 working days.
The future of regulation has been consulted on with the results to be published, by the Home Office, later this year. However, with the achievements of the last 10 years behind us, we can be sure that the future of private security regulation in the UK will be built upon a foundation of success.