It’s good to talk, and, as a Regulator perhaps even more important to listen

In this month’s blog our Chair, Elizabeth France, talks about the Strategic Forum and the Stakeholder Conference and the importance of us as a regulator engaging with and listening to the private security industry.

We hope you will engage in an on-going discussion with us; provide comments and share your opinions.

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This month has been a good opportunity for me to hear directly from industry representatives, those we regulate, representatives of our partner organisations, and of government.

When I arrived at the SIA just over three years ago, there was a sense that change to our legal framework was just around the corner. The organisation had survived the test applied to ‘quangos’ and there had been a manifesto commitment to make the statutory amendments that would allow business licensing. Because change seemed to be imminent, a group had been set up which represented industry and the Home Office, under the chairmanship of the SIA to prepare for that change.

But the corner turned out to be a slow bend and the momentum of the group had inevitably slowed. We decided to draw a line, to pause and think about how to involve industry in our strategic thinking, whether within or beyond the current legal framework.

SIA Strategic Forum

On 2 March we held the first meeting of our new Strategic Forum. Before setting up the Strategic Forum, I was clear that I expected to see commitment from those who attended, while keeping some fluidity to the structure of the Forum. Attendance was 100% and everyone engaged in constructive discussion. By the end of the meeting we had identified areas where there is real opportunity to work together to achieve change.

This Strategic Forum is not an inner circle, or a club; it is just one of many ways we want to have conversations with the private security industry. Alongside this, I have a series of conversations arranged with individuals not currently on the group over the next few weeks.

SIA Stakeholder Conference

I have been reflecting on the fact that it’s good to talk.  As a Regulator, perhaps it’s even more important to listen. Another opportunity we had to do this was on 14 March when we had our annual stakeholder conference. All I want to say here is that I thought it was our best (at least in my time).

Just as with the Strategic Forum, it was the quality of engagement that was so impressive. Not just the excellent presentations, the focused questions or the interactivity in the workshops, but also the opportunity taken for informal exchanges. I enjoyed the day, and others seemed to too.

Working in partnerships is what regulation is all about, so finishing the month as a guest speaker at a Security Awareness Special Interest Group (SASIG) seminar on equality and diversity in the security industry is brilliant. It’s an opportunity to talk, and to listen, to share experiences from within this industry – but also to hear from those whose experience elsewhere can help us to see how hurdles have been jumped already, and what benefits they have seen.

I am looking forward to continuing my many and varied conversations, not just with licence holders, but with suppliers, buyers of security and those who rely on a professional and appropriately trained private security industry. There is more that we can all do to promote partnership working to protect the public. As the tragic events of 22 March remind us, there is a clear and pressing need for us all to rise to the challenge.

Who do you think is responsible for raising industry standards?

We have launched our corporate blog to discuss developments in the private security industry and to provide further insight and opinion on our work.

We hope you will engage in an on-going discussion with us; provide comments and share your opinions.

Welcome to the first of our monthly blogs.

We have launched our corporate blog to discuss developments in the private security industry and to provide further insight and opinion on our work.

We hope you will engage in an on-going discussion with us; provide comments and share your opinions.

In this first blog our Chief Executive, Alan Clamp discusses the shared responsibility for ensuring quality and raising standards across the private security industry.

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Each morning, as I enter my local train station on my journey to work, I exchange greetings with the security officer on duty. He wears an SIA licence on his uniform, which I subconsciously note is on display, the correct licence for the role performed and has not expired – I have not told him about my job role and, you will be reassured to know, I do not count this interaction as a formal SIA compliance check. This regular encounter has prompted me to reflect on who exactly is responsible for the quality of security provision provided by this person?

First and foremost, it is the individual licence-holder who is responsible for quality. He is trained, approved by the SIA, and should be fully aware of the requirements of his role and his responsibilities to protect the public. The second partner in the quality assurance network is his employer. This is true regardless of whether or not the employer is an ACS company. Employers are responsible for recruitment, checking references, induction, professional development, deployment and the conduct of their employees – all key factors in the quality of security supplied. Of course the ACS provides additional safeguards that can reassure us further about quality.

Is the individual licence-holder responsible?

There are other partners who have a role to play in assuring quality and raising standards. In addition to being part of the ACS, the employer may also be a member of a trade association in the private security industry. Such associations often have membership criteria and encourage businesses to attain higher standards by sharing good practice and providing professional development opportunities. Similarly, assessment and accreditation bodies have a role to play in scrutinising and endorsing professional standards – including the awarding bodies that provide licence-linked qualifications – so they too have a responsibility for the quality of security in my local station.

But what about the buyer?

In this case I am not sure who is responsible for purchasing contracted security at my station – perhaps the rail company with the franchise to run this line? But regardless of who it is, buyers of security have a significant role to play in determining the quality of provision experienced by passengers. For example, the buyer might stipulate that ACS membership is compulsory, or it might define the working conditions of the individual operative, or the additional training requirements, or the expectations in terms of customer service – there might even be a direct relationship between the price paid and the quality provided?

Where does the SIA fit in?

Our role is to hold individuals and businesses to account for quality, and to take action if standards are not met. My purpose in pointing out that quality is a key role of a number of partners in the private security industry is not to abdicate the responsibility of the regulator, but simply to emphasise that everyone has a role to play and that, ultimately, quality will be better if we all maximise our contribution and work together in partnership. The goal is one of high standards and effective public protection – the key to achieving this is good teamwork.

Stakeholder conference

On 14 March we are having our stakeholder conference in London, I’m looking forward to it. This year following your feedback we have included interactive workshops. This will provide an opportunity for all our partners to talk about standards in the private security industry, how we can improve regulation and how we can best work together to play our part in protecting the public, safeguarding the vulnerable and contributing to national security. I hope you will join us, this is an ideal opportunity for the private security industry to come together to discuss how we can do things better together.