The SIA and Counter-Terrorism

In this month’s blog our Deputy Director of Partnerships and Interventions, Ed Bateman, talks about the work the SIA is doing to contribute to the counter-terrorism initiatives underway by the Home Office and Metropolitan Police.

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

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More than just a regulator

A long time ago we stopped being a regulator that simply issued licences, raised industry standards, and maintained the Approved Contractor Scheme.  While we continue to focus on these activities, we have become increasingly involved in supporting police in their efforts to identify and disrupt serious and organised crime and we’re engaging regularly with businesses, and licensed operatives, to deliver the wider safeguarding agenda. This includes initiatives associated with violence reduction, child sexual exploitation, modern day slavery, and protecting vulnerable people.

Our approach to counter terrorism

Counter Terrorism is at the hard end of ‘safeguarding’. Although the whole spectrum of safeguarding activity is important, Counter Terrorism has regional, national, and international interest.

Our approach to Counter Terrorism (CT) has a number of components.  Some of the broad themes of activity are communication, intelligence sharing, and training and qualifications. Effective joint working between police and the private security industry is crucial as is strengthening the relationship between the SIA and CT Policing.

We’ve been engaged with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) for several years developing a range of training and information products during that time, all of which are targeted at making the public safer. The qualifications that form part of the SIA licence criteria include a CT awareness module.

Delivering training and industry awareness

We’ve been instrumental in encouraging individuals and businesses to attend Project Griffin and Argus training. These programmes are aimed at individuals and locations respectively. This training has undoubtedly increased safety at events and venues, as well as improving the knowledge and confidence of licence holders throughout the UK.
In addition to this, our regional teams are now working with local Counter Terrorism Security Advisors (CTSAs) to deliver bespoke CT awareness briefings across the UK.  Night clubs (or other licensed premises) usually provide the meeting space and refreshments; CTSAs provide the briefing, and the SIA provide the audience using their local business contacts. We regularly welcome between 50 and 200 attendees to the events and the feedback is excellent. Another CT initiative, also produced in partnership with local CTSAs, brings together small groups of businesses to learn how to identify fraudulent identity documents.

Keeping the industry informed

The provision of real-time essential briefing material following the terrorist attacks on London and Manchester was well received by the private security industry.  We routinely receive and pass on critical messages from UK CT Policing. We do this either specifically to the 14,000 subscribers to our SIA Update and ACS Update newsletters, or more generally via our website and to our 27,000 social media followers. There are some excellent publications available at the NaCTSO website  (such as the new Crowded Places Guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-crowded-places-guidance-launched) and we use our own digital channels to publicise them industry-wide.

Encouraging co-operation

We work closely with the security industry and police encouraging both to identify opportunities for joint or collaborative working to make towns and cities safer from the threat of terrorism. The private security industry in Scotland recently inaugurated the Security Industry Safer Scotland (CT) Group, which is supported by the SIA and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC).  The group, which is chaired and supported by senior leaders from across Scotland’s security industry, will feed into the Scottish Government’s ‘Crowded Places Forum’. This ensures that the experience of the licensed (and wider) security industry contributes to the broader CT discussion.

Developing a close working relationship with NaCTSO is at the heart of our own approach to CT. Together with NaCTSO, and through CT policing, we can ensure that our agencies work effectively together to provide the best opportunity to make people safer through combating  the threat of terrorism.

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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.