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Coronation Weekend – Extensive inspection activity in London and Windsor

The Coronation weekend required a large private security presence to deliver safe events and ensure public protection. 

Our Inspection and Enforcement teams engaged extensively in advance with the event organisers, partner agencies and security companies involved as well as being present during the weekend events to undertake compliance-related activity 

Our compliance activity focused on the large events in Windsor and Central London 

Windsor

Our South East regional investigators worked with the main security contractor to quality assure the accreditation process of SIA licence holders arriving at Windsor Castle to work at the event.

The team gave proactive advice around due diligence measures to mitigate against the risk of individuals trying to work in the private security industry using counterfeit licences.

The security operation at Windsor was very well organised with several hundred security operatives going through the process without issue.

We completed 40 random licence checks out of around 400 licence holders working the event, all were compliant.

Investigators also carried out inspections in and around Windsor town centre and the train station.

London

Our team of London investigators engaged with the organisers and suppliers in advance of the events across the weekend. Approximately 2,100 SIA licensed operatives were required for the event working alongside Police and the armed forces.  

In the lead up to the Coronation during the `build’ phase our investigators carried out visits to ensure the integrity of security around areas of temporary infrastructure.  

On Friday 5 May we undertook inspection activity carrying out licence checks in allocated areas at Green Park, Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Parliament Square and finally St James’s Park and Horse Guards Parade.  

On Saturday 6 May on the day of the Kings Coronation investigators were out early in Parliament Square, Millbank, Green Park, and Hyde Park.  

During both inspections our investigators spoke with SIA licensed personnel to check they held a valid and active SIA licence.  We spoke with 260 individual licence holders. All held valid and active SIA licences. Warnings were issued to those failing to display their licence in accordance with licensing requirements.  

The team not only checked SIA licences but spoke with the officers about their role, their experience and training.  We also engaged with supervisors and managers on the ground representing the numerous providers of security personnel. 

Jonathan Fleet, Regional Investigation Manager for London said: 

“Many of the security officers at the event started work on event day at 4am for a 12 hour shift. We were impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the security operatives we spoke with who were doing a great job in areas with high numbers of the general public.” 


 

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Public Protection is everyone’s responsibility!

The SIA’s recent update submitted to the Inquiry on 16 January, has been published on the Manchester Arena Inquiry website and is now also available here on GOV.UK.

In a blog published today, Paul Fullwood SIA Director of Inspections & Enforcement and Strategic Lead for the Manchester Arena Inquiry (MAI) gives an update on the SIA’s work on the two monitored recommendations made by the Inquiry. He also outlines the actions and improvements undertaken by the SIA to strengthen public safety since the attack at the Manchester Arena in 2017.


The Manchester Arena Inquiry (MAI) has been a sobering experience for us all. The inquiry has provided significant learning for the public and various agencies as well as an examination of the role of the regulated Private Security sector.

On Monday 19th December 2022, the Government announced details for the Protect Duty, now to be known as ‘Martyn’s Law’ in tribute to Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena Terrorist Attack in 2017.

Further to Martyn’s Law, Volume One of the Inquiry’s report contained two monitored recommendations specifically for the Security Industry Authority and the Home Office.

I thought it would be helpful to explain the SIA’s work so far on the Inquiry’s Monitored Recommendations 7 (MR7 – extend in-house licensing) and 8 (MR8 – introduction of business licensing).

Over the last 18 months we have been working closely with the Home Office to consider possible options to address these recommendations.

From the perspective of the SIA, our professional assessment is that despite the best efforts of many, we have gaps in our existing regulatory powers which the proposals would seek to address. We have sought to address this in support of both public protection and working in partnership to raise standards across the private security industry.

Our proposals go further than the recommendations made by the MAI, and we have included:

  1. Individual SIA licensing for in-house security should be extended to both operators of CCTV/public surveillance and in-house security guards; and
  2. The licensing of private security contractors and labour providers be introduced.

We have been working with members of the private security industry & Home Office to test out our thinking, our own professional knowledge and independent research to ensure we have an evidence base to assist with any future decision making.

We have made our proposals on the basis that:

  •  they will support public protection and public safety,
  • they have the broad support of the private security operatives and businesses we have engaged with,
  • they will not result in a disproportionate regulatory burden with sensible measures proposed, including exemptions, exceptions, and thresholds.

There is often a misassumption that we (SIA) can introduce these changes immediately; we can’t!  We operate within the powers given to us under the Private Security Industry Act. Any changes to this legislation require the agreement of the Home Office, Ministers, and Parliament. The matter is now with Home Office officials, and ultimately Ministers for consideration and decision on whether to accept the proposals or not. We await to hear the outcome.

Alongside the introduction of ‘Martyn’s Law’ we feel these proposals will bolster public safety by further professionalising the private security industry and address several shortfalls that we know many professionals would like addressed.

The SIA submitted formal detailed proposals of both MR 7 and MR8 to the Home Office in November 2022.

As private security is a devolved matter, the SIA regulates the private security industry in Scotland and Northern Ireland on behalf of the governments in those nations. We have continued to keep those authorities updated as well.

In the meantime, we have also been developing many other areas that we can change within the SIA to further support public protection:

  • We have revised our Compliance, Enforcement & Supervision Strategy with our vision to be far more visible and proactive across the private security industry. We have increased our Inspection & Enforcement Resources (at no increase of the license fee) from 50 plus operatives to over 100 operatives (Intelligence, Inspections and Criminal Investigation) who are all being upskilled to national investigative & intelligence standards (PIP/IPP).
  • We have over 400,000 SIA licensed operatives across the UK, so readers will understand why our inspections/operations are targeted & intelligence led based on threat, risk, and harm, that said there is a real willingness to increase our visibility, make our presence felt and engage better with all parts of private security industry.
  • Year to date we have undertaken 6,000 individual licence checks, more than a 200% increase on the previous year. We have conducted inspection visits to 915 separate sites and checked operatives from 830 separate security providers. We have opened 880 compliance investigation cases based on intelligence and concern reports.  We have detected nearly 100 individual offences relating to unlicensed operatives and other PSIA 2001 offences.
  • We continue to work closely with UK Police/local policing, HMRC, UK Law Enforcement, Local Authority & key stakeholders across the UK.
  • We have also submitted to the Home Office several business cases to improve our current PSIA powers (alongside MR7 & MR8) which will assist with information sharing, investigative activity, and money laundering legislation in support of our regulatory responsibility.
  • We have made 100 unannounced visits to training providers and generated 103 action plans, which contain an average of 4 improvement points.  These are all followed up with the relevant awarding organisation.
  • We continue to improve the Approved Contractor Scheme recognising the link  between our proposals to the Home Office for ‘Inhouse & Business Licensing’.

We recognise that we have some brilliant people and organisations operating across the private security industry who are doing their very best for the public, their teams, and people they serve. This is why we need to keep moving forward, we can’t be complacent and why public protection and raising standards is all our responsibility if we want to prevent further tragedies.

Paul Fullwood – Director – Inspections & Enforcement (SIA Strategic lead for Manchester Arena Inquiry).

Suggested links:

Manchester Arena Inquiry official website: Manchester Arena Inquiry

MAI Volume 1: Volume 1 Report – Manchester Arena Inquiry

Protect Duty announcement: Martyn’s Law to ensure stronger protections against terrorism in public places – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Protect Duty Factsheet: Martyn’s Law Factsheet  – Home Office in the media (blog.gov.uk)

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Supporting Public Safety during the Freshers season

Kirsty Tagg – SIA lead on preventing violence against women and girls reflects on the industry’s role in supporting a safe and enjoyable Freshers season.

We are now several weeks into the Freshers season. For many students “Freshers week” will mark a first in their lives. For younger students it will be the first time being away from home, their first experience of visiting a bar or club in an unfamiliar area. It’s an exciting time that should be enjoyed safely.

Over the past year along with my colleagues at the SIA, we have run a full-scale programme of engagement across the private security industry in support of strategies initiated by the UK Government and the devolved nations to tackle violence against women and girls. We have published and promoted materials and advice to the wider security sector, that raises awareness of the safety of women and girls in all environments.

The role that private security operatives will play in keeping the student population safe during Freshers season will be critical.
We are currently running a campaign to share and promote best practice guidance to help reduce incidents of violence and harm such as predatory behaviour, sexual assault, and spiking.

As I write this piece, across the country my colleagues are on the ground meeting with security operatives who will often be dealing with vulnerable people who are on a night out. The reassuring thing we are hearing from the industry is “we know what we are doing”. People should be able to enjoy a night out assured of their safety.

We are also speaking with venue owners and buyers of security; they have a responsibility to ensure they are using good companies with licensed operatives. At the end of the day this is about a holistic approach involving a range of actors such as the police, local authorities, educational establishments, street pastors, pub watch and many others.

Our aim is to remind operatives of their training. We also want to remind all those engaged in security that security operatives can proactively protect people in vulnerable situations.
Please read our advice on the contribution that security operatives can make to help keep themselves safe whilst also protecting others.

If you employ or provide security, you and your staff can access this information by clicking on the link below.

Supporting women and girls’ safety: SIA email campaign – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

How to protect yourself and others: guidance for door supervisors – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

To all our licence holders on the frontline, we ask that you please continue to fulfil your role to the highest standards. Thank you for your dedication and professionalism in keeping the public safe.

Kirsty Tagg

SIA Lead – Tackling Violence Towards Women and Girls

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Hiring security for events 

We remind you that those who use labour supplied by other parties remain responsible for ensuring that the supplied licensed operatives hold a valid and genuine SIA licence. You must undertake appropriate due diligence. We are encouraging all suppliers of security to continue to ensure that the SIA licence produced at `check-in’ is physically checked and is valid. 

We encourage you to use a UV (ultraviolet) light where possible as a quick and easy method to check licences. The SIA licence features several easy-to-check security features. These include:

•  on the front of the licence you should be able to see holograms when the licence is tilted backwards and forwards.

•  the expiry date of the licence is embossed on the bottom of the photograph (not printed on) – you should be able to run your finger over the date and feel that it is raised.

•  on the back of the licence there is a QR code and a bar code. The bar code should bring up the same licence number as shown on the licence.

•  a UV light should reveal `SIA’ in the top right and bottom left of the licence when scanned across the front. On older licences there will be a watermark pattern on the back of the licence that can only be revealed by the UV.

•  The address on the rear of the licence should show an `E’ post code.


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Parklife Festival 2022, Manchester

Lucia Howland – SIA Regional Investigation Manager and Tactical Events Lead highlights SIA activity during the Parklife Festival in Manchester this year.

The weekend of 11/12 June saw the Parklife Festival return to Heaton Park in Manchester with an extensive array of acts and an 80,000 capacity.  A large private security presence helped to deliver a safe event and ensure public protection.  As part of routine compliance and enforcement work, SIA investigators engaged extensively in advance with the event organisers, partner agencies and security companies involved as well as being present during the festival to undertake compliance-related activity. 

Our approach at the festival, which was agreed in advance, was to focus on the identification and prevention of any attempted use of counterfeit SIA licences, alongside ensuring general compliance with SIA rules.  Counterfeit licences show genuine SIA licence number and name details and show up as “active” on the SIA’s Public Register of Licence Holders.  However, the photo on the licence is of the fraudulent holder rather than the genuine applicant.

A large private security presence helped to deliver a safe event and ensure public protection at the Parklife Festival

On the weekend itself, four SIA investigators attended Parklife with assistance from Greater Manchester Police.  In total we checked over 650 SIA licences, mostly at the accreditation stage prior to deployment.  Whilst the vast majority of the SIA licences we checked were genuine, we found one that was a counterfeit.  Whilst the name and SIA licence number showed as “active” on the SIA Register, the photo on the licence did not match with SIA records.  The counterfeit licence was seized immediately and the individual in question was arrested by Greater Manchester Police officers for suspected fraud and immigration offences.  Related enquires and follow-up work are underway.              

The protection of the public at high-profile festivals is paramount and we were pleased that the majority of those deployed were correctly licensed. Our inspection activity was vital to mitigate against the risk of individuals trying to work in the private security industry using counterfeit licences. Festival goers need the assurance that they will be safe when they are out enjoying themselves.

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Platinum Jubilee Weekend investigators out in force in Central London

The four-day Platinum Jubilee Weekend in early June featured significant high-profile, national events in Central London. To ensure that the public were kept safe during the events there was a substantial security and stewarding presence. Security operatives were in attendance well in advance of the Platinum Jubilee Weekend to ensure the safety of the build and the event infrastructure were protected.

Prior to the Platinum Jubilee Weekend our compliance and inspections London team worked with Arcadis, the event organiser, plus the main and other security suppliers clocking up around 164 hours of work. We gave proactive advice around due diligence measures to mitigate against the risk of individuals trying to work in the private security industry using counterfeit licences. Inspection activity, supported by our south-east regional investigators took place on Tuesday 31 May, at the Trooping of the Colour event on Thursday 02 June, and during the Pageant event on Sunday 05 June. Some operatives said that they wanted to work at these prestigious events because they were significant occasions. Our investigators undertook 150 licence checks finding two people with counterfeit licences. No other unlicensed activity was identified.

John Sandlin, our London Regional Manager said:

“It was pleasing that security providers prevented two people working with counterfeit licences identifying them at the  sign-in stage prior to any of our inspections. We wish to extend a big thank you to those who gave up part of their Bank Holiday Weekend to work at the Platinum Jubilee keeping the public safe.”

The size of the Platinum Jubilee Weekend did create significant challenges for security providers. Sourcing sufficient numbers of licensed individuals required support from a number of other security providers, with peak demand being the deployment of 2,500 licensed operatives.

Further work is taking place in relation to counterfeit licences and newly identified companies.

………….

We have published updated guidance to ensure that people providing security services at events are compliant with the law.

You can read our recent blog about safety at events here.

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Safety at Events

Lucia Howland – SIA Regional Investigation Manager and Tactical Events Lead highlights SIA guidance on industry compliance and public safety at events.

This summer looks set to be one of the busiest times we have seen in a while, with many high-profile events already booked in the national and local calendar. In addition, the potential of some promising weather, suggests that across the UK people can look forward to a summer packed with great festivals for music, food, and the arts.

With the air filled with anticipation and excitement, public safety at these events will be paramount.

I and my colleagues at the SIA have spent the last few months watching all of the planning that goes on behind the scenes. We’ve seen the security industry and the events sector working together to ensure that people can safely enjoy themselves.

The role that private security operatives will play in keeping the public safe at these events will be critical.

Most, although not all, events will require some professional security. Some or all of these security staff may require a licence issued by the SIA.

This week we have published updated guidance to ensure that people providing security services at events are compliant with the law. This means ensuring that security operatives are properly licensed where necessary. If you are providing a security service, this guidance will help you to identify the roles at your event that will by law require an SIA licence.

Our guidance also includes advice on the due diligence checks you should complete when supplying security. It’s important to understand who is legally responsible for conducting those checks, and what evidence to keep.

Throughout the summer we will also be issuing further information and guidance to support security operatives as they carry out their duties at these events.

We will cover a range of issues from how to identify people who may be vulnerable – to information from the government’s “Enough” campaign to end violence against women and girls. Watch out for information on counter-terrorism and best practice on ensuring public safety in crowded places. You can find this information on our GOV.UK pages and via our social media posts.

It looks like it going to be amazing summer. Let’s do everything we can to make it a safe one!


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New Close Protection Training Requirements 

By Rick Mounfield, Chief Executive of the Security Institute

The role of the Close Protection Officer has grown in the past decade. It’s no longer acceptable to be the protection on the shoulder, the Close Protection Officer needs to be the security and safety advisor to the principal. Their knowledge of threats goes beyond the physical and includes vulnerabilities that come via the internet of things and new and emerging security risks are realised that will determine who is the best at their craft.  A modern and capable Close Protection Officer needs to remain current in multiple vectors of threat and the mitigations (risk managers) that will secure the principal, their family and business. Can Close Protection Officers afford to be ignorant to these new and emerging threats? I would suggest not.  

Contracts are often lost on a whim and the protection officers must be trusted to advise on a range of threats to build trust so that the family can live their lives as freely as possible. Wealth and profile can often lead to living a privileged life in a golden cage.  

The new enhancements in the licensed linked skills and qualifications required by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) go a long way to addressing the shortfalls of the past. They did not decide upon these new skills lightly. The consultation with industry’s best operators and the companies who employ them, has been instrumental in improving the quality of Close Protection Officers and should be applauded. Many will think that the upskilling has not gone far enough but it is not for the regulator to set the bar so high that it precludes the masses, it is a baseline that sets a standard that all can meet and then allows the best to go further through individual professional development that allows them to stand out from the crowd and secure clients through fair competition. It is the Close Protection Officers determination and personal endeavours to be the best version of themself that will secure the best clients.  

Increasing the requirements to offer better medical capabilities is the most important upgrade in my opinion. However, in today’s society, even low risk locations, there is an ever present need to be aware of the threat of terrorism and counter terrorism awareness through the ACT training is also important.  

The industry overwhelmingly decided not to separate the door supervisor role from the Close Protection licensed operators. Many Close Protection Officers will supplement their income by working in a Door Supervisor role. This is applicable but the Door Supervisor role requires different soft and hard skills that are out with ordinary Close Protection doctrine. It is important the Close Protection Officer working in the night-time economy is well prepared to provide the appropriate service and protection to partygoers. A failure to understand physical intervention in this role can have life changing impacts for many if they are not trained properly.  

Training and delivery of the necessary skills are moving into a hybrid format and that is also a positive move forward. All areas of the business world have embraced digital methods of training and if the industry is to embrace the fast- moving changes to the operational environment, it must stay at the cutting edge of technology and training delivery methods. Obviously, some aspects must be practised in a physical environment, but many skills and practices can, and should be, delivered in easily accessible methods. Webinars and online courses are better than they have ever been, and platforms have improved to deliver quality training remotely.  

Overall, I am encouraged by the new regime, and I hope to support the ongoing development of the sector that I grew up in. It is a vital service and I hope that the majority of Close Protection Officers will embrace the enhancements as we drive the professional standards ever higher.  

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The Proceeds of Crime Act (2002)

This month, one of our Criminal Investigations Managers, Nathan Salmon explains how the SIA uses the (Proceeds of Crime Act (2002) to recover the profits made from offending within the private security industry.

Our blog aims to discuss developments in the private security industry and to provide further insight and opinion on our work. We look forward to having an on-going discussion with you; share your comments and opinions.

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Over the last 12 years, the SIA has been investigating and prosecuting anyone who repeatedly shows that they do not care about being licensed or working within the law. Our Partnerships and Interventions department does this by encouraging those working in the private security industry to stay within the law (the Private Security Industry Act). You can find out more about our enforcement activity on our website.

The SIA licence is a way to safeguard the industry and general public, and it is our responsibility to make sure that only ‘fit and proper’ people work in the industry. Those who ignore us and disregard the importance of licensing could be barred from operating in private security and prosecuted.

We do not always prosecute but investigate and consider whether there are public safety risks or if we need to protect the integrity of the private security industry or our licensing system.

The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and repeat offenders

In recent years, we noted that some security companies were being investigated repeatedly. We had to do something because we didn’t want businesses treating court fines as a type of tax where the level of profit for working outside the law is worth the potential penalties any judge or court may give.

In 2015, the government amended POCA to include to regulatory bodies like us and we applied to take advantage of these powers. POCA is a law that means any money made from criminal activity can be recovered. It is also used by the likes of local authorities, HMRC and the Police to name a few.

We started using POCA in November 2015 to financially investigate companies and individuals who make a profit from criminal activity in the private security industry. Since then, we have employed financial investigators. They are accredited to use POCA to investigate and confiscate assets.

A recent example of our use of POCA is the case of Billy Jones, a security director who continued to work despite having had his Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence revoked. He was ordered to pay £300,000 at Cardiff Crown Court, in April 2019. This kind of conviction removes the benefit of working outside the law in the private security industry.

How does the SIA use POCA?

Our Criminal Investigations Team, is part of our Partnerships and Interventions department and is responsible for the SIA’s criminal investigations. This includes Accredited Financial Investigators (AFIs) who are able to legally present financial information in court. AFI’s are unique and very important because they have the power to ask financial institutions for information and use this to build a clear picture of someone’s financial status.

There are currently two main ways that our AFI’s can use POCA:

  1. Restraining assets
    AFI’s can apply to the court to restrain the assets of people under financial investigation. This makes sure that the money or assets of anyone we are prosecuting cannot be sold or dissipated before a court case ends. For example, for someone who is being investigated, the amount they can withdraw from their bank account can be restricted and their assets frozen.
  2. Confiscating assets
    Once convicted, a court can order a person to pay an amount of money based on how much they made through criminal activity. If they fail to pay this money, they could end up in prison and when released they would still need to pay this amount. In some cases, life-changing amounts of money can be confiscated by the courts. How POCA figures are calculated is shaped by case law, meaning specific cases determine how the calculations should be applied. We’re really pleased to have contributed to this and case law specific to the security industry exists.

During POCA proceedings, the people we’re investigating may see their lifestyle change. Due to current case law and depending on the situation, how much we confiscate may be the entire value of a security contract and not just the profit. This is because the turnover from a security contract may be a significant figure, a business or person might have to pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds. Selling assets like houses, cars or investments, to pay back the proceeds of their crime may be required.

If you’re wondering where this money goes, most of it returns to the Treasury. A proportion is allocated to the investigating organisation, which we can use to fund future financial investigations. In practice, we get no more than 34%. The money can also be allocated towards good causes, and we are exploring opportunities that will benefit the private security industry.

What will the SIA do with POCA in the future?

Over the next few months, we want financial investigations to become increasingly a core part of the way we prosecute at the SIA. This is really important because it is how we can guarantee that criminal profits are not reinvested, into “phoenix” companies that are essentially the same companies with a different name that have been set up after a criminal conviction. Our ability to use POCA should act as a warning to businesses seeking to operate outside private security regulations – you risk not only your business, but potentially your personal assets as well.

We are making really good progress and the volume of criminal cases under consideration has never been higher. Our success with POCA strengthens our regulation of the private security and we will continue to work with Regional Asset Recovery Teams and Police partners so that those who want to profit from illegal and poor business practice are removed from the private security industry.

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Quality assuring private security training

We began the skills and qualifications review at the beginning of September to review the criteria required for our licence-linked qualifications. We do this every five years so that the skills criteria are kept current.

This month, our Quality and Risk Manager, Tracey Lilley, discusses the skills and qualifications review and about the importance of this opportunity for the industry to share its views to ensure a robust assessment processes within the private security industry.

Our blog aims to discuss developments in the private security industry and to provide further insight and opinion on our work. We look forward to having an on-going discussion with you; please share your comments and opinions.

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I’m a Quality & Risk Manager at the SIA. My role includes liaising with the awarding organisations on the delivery, assessment and quality assurance of the qualifications required for an SIA licence. We have contracts with all the awarding organisations who approve training providers to deliver licence-linked qualifications across the UK.  Training providers are quality assured by the awarding organisations, who are themselves quality assured by the qualification regulators and by us.

A big part of my work has been the development of a comprehensive quality improvement plan designed to support both the awarding organisations and their training centres. This plan is designed to continually improve the way in which the qualifications required for an SIA licence are delivered and assessed.

Our relationship with the awarding organisations and training providers has developed a great deal over the last year.  We now work more effectively together with improved identification, coordination and management of training malpractice.

A key component of the improvement plan involves the introduction of a new initiative of   unannounced visits to training centres delivering qualifications required for an SIA licence. These visits will give us the opportunity to see training being delivered, speak to learners, and observe assessments. Visits will start from the beginning of 2019, so don’t be surprised to see me or my colleagues popping in to observe training and assessments being delivered.

Skills and Qualifications Review
As most of you will be aware, we have begun a wide-ranging review of the licence-linked qualifications needed for the private security industry. We have widened the scope of this work to consider not just the mandatory qualifications we require, but how to support the industry to address the skills and knowledge needed by operatives throughout their careers across the private security industry.

One key element of this review is to make sure that robust assessment processes exist to ensure the integrity of the qualifications achieved. This will further assure us of the integrity of the qualifications and help us to reduce instances of training malpractice.

We have set up expert working groups consisting of representatives from all the awarding organisations and subject matter specialists from the security sectors we regulate.

One group was designed to review the current assessment and quality assurance measures and look at ways of strengthening these to ensure they continue to meet the needs of their relevant sector, protect the public, and are future-proof for the next 5 years.

At our first meeting the following recommendations were discussed and are being considered:

  • CCTV Practical – some short answer questions to ensure full knowledge of all elements if it is not possible to demonstrate them all fully
  • Conflict Management – move away from multiple choice questions to practical assessment. This is better suited to the content and can also be a way of assessing a learner’s ability to speak English
  • Working in the private security industry – some practical assessment around communication skills
  • Working as a Door Supervisor – some practical assessment around searching and report writing
  • Working as a Security Guard – some practical assessment around searching and report writing, plus use of radios
  • English Language requirements – We discussed using a standardised pre-entry English language competency test, and all agreed this would be an option to pursue.

We have held further discussions with our experts to consider the findings from our first consultation on the specifications for learning and qualifications, along with the research we conducted to understand the current and future skills needs of the private security industry in the UK.

All of this invaluable feedback and opinion will feed into the next draft of our specifications for learning and qualifications. The expert working group will again provide valuable insight on this.

We will be consulting for a final time on the new specifications in January 2019. Please keep an eye out for this, as it will be your last opportunity to help shape the qualifications and to ensure they stay relevant for your industry in the years ahead.

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How we are tackling identity theft

In the last months, two of our prosecutions cases have highlighted how we have tackled the fraudulent behaviour of some licence holders and the challenges we face.

This month, our Director of Partnerships and Interventions, Dave Humphries, discusses our counter fraud initiatives and the steps we took in these cases.

Our blog aims to discuss developments in the private security industry and to provide further insight and opinion about our work. We look forward to having an on-going discussion with you; please share your comments and opinions.

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Most licensing systems are based on a set of standards and for us at the SIA our system is designed to ensure only appropriate people are given the licence to operate. This involves a number of checks to prove identity that people have the relevant qualifications, checks on criminality and verifying that a person has the right to work in the United Kingdom. Most applicants provide the information we need to make a considered decision.

But what happens when someone knows they will not qualify for a licence, but is determined to get one?  They may test the robustness of our checks and they may submit false documents to do so. We are constantly alert and we do all we can do to address specific threats.

One particular type of fraud that we face is identity theft.  It is not the only category of fraud we have come across, but it was a feature in two recent cases.

These two recent investigations have involved fraudsters stealing the identities of others, but being prosecuted by the SIA for their actions. In both cases, the fraud involved not only an attempt to bypass our online licensing system, but the two individuals also tried to get around the requirement of proving their identity by taking on the full identity of another, to get an SIA licence.

The first fraudster was Moses Oshunkoya who knew the person whose identity he targeted.  He used their personal information to the point that he was able to gain a passport under this new identity.  Using this false identity Oshunkoya got as far as fraudulently gaining an SIA licence.  Nonetheless, our investigation of him resulted in a criminal prosecution.

The second case was Kazeem Oladimeji who was more contrived in his approach. He sought out a former SIA licence holder no longer working within the industry.  He adopted that identity by purchasing a fraudulent passport in the victim’s name. He changed the licence holder’s address, enabling Oladimeji to replace an SIA licence.  Again, the outcome was a successful criminal prosecution.

Both examples show the real threat posed by identity theft.  In both cases, the victims who had their identity stolen contacted us. Once we were aware, we investigated and prosecuted the offenders to ensure their fraudulent activity was brought to an end.

What are we doing to combat such activity?

Thankfully, processing changes in recent years have and will make future cases like this less likely.  For example, we introduced personal online accounts which are password protected. This reduces the ability for fraudsters to engage with us without having access to the online accounts.

We have also made improvements to the way we verify documents. We have improved technology to better identify fraudulent identity documents.  When we do find instances of fraud, we take robust action with our enforcement partners to ensure such documents are taken out of circulation.  Finally, as these two cases highlight, we prosecute the fraudsters.

As the regulator of the private security industry, we play an important role in dealing with identify fraud and together with our partners, we take robust action to tackle such criminality.

Those working in the private security industry can support this by being our eyes and ears and reporting any fraud that they come across.  As with other types of criminality within the security industry; if you suspect fraud please report online or contact Crimestoppers.  Specific information and how the fraud was identified will enable us to take positive action.

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Play a proactive part in regulation through our Licence Management service

Approved contractors currently using our Licence Assist service for more than six months now have the chance to move on to our Licence Management service.

This month Tony Holyland our Head of Quality & Standards talks about the ins and outs of our refreshed Licence Management service.

Our blog aims to discuss developments in the private security industry and to provide further insight and opinion on our work. We look forward to having an on-going discussion with you; please share your comments and opinions.

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I am pleased to share that our Licence Management service is now available to approved contractors who have been using the Licence Assist service for six months. Licence Management allows a business to manage the licence application process for its staff – just as people have been asking for.

In 2013, I joined the team that manages our Approved Contractor Scheme. Since then I’ve met a large number of people running businesses that are part of the scheme.

Many of you have told me that you would like to help your staff when they are applying for a licence, by being more involved in the licence application process. After all, it seems inefficient for a business to carry out the same checks that we do.

This new service gives security businesses the chance to be proactive and share responsibility in the licensing process. In essence, Licence Management allows us to work closely with approved contractors and make the process of getting a licence easier.

We have listened to the valuable feedback from our pilot exercise with nine approved contractors to inform and improve our service. For us, Licence Management has a strategic value that fits with how we drive business improvement via the ACS and how we seek to engage businesses using our licensing system.

We hope that the service will give us closer relationships with businesses and that this will help raise industry involvement in regulation.

 What are the benefits of the Licence Management service?

If you don’t already know about our Licence Management service, it gives an approved contractor greater control over the licensing of its staff.

Similar to the Licence Assist service, Licence Management provides an approved contractor with the tools to enable them to manage employees’ licence applications online. To do this you will have had to have met certain criteria that are beyond the scope of the usual ACS requirements.

A significant benefit is that it enables an approved contractor to check and verify the identity documents of an applicant. This removes the need for a licence applicant to visit a post office and reduces the duplication of checks.

Other benefits include:

  • Online access to submit and manage licence applications for your workforce.
  • The ability for your business to update information e.g. Individual’s details directly onto the system.
  • The ability to assist licence applicants through the licensing process making your business more attractive to applicants.
  • Saving time, cost and reducing the risk of document loss as the need to send valuable documents to us is removed in most cases.
  • Receiving real-time alerts of revoked or suspended licences, when a licence is due for renewal and other relevant updates.
  • The ability to pay for a single – and multiple applications – online and by direct debit.

It is important to mention that all approved contractors using the Licence Management service are required to have Cyber Essentials Plus certification (or equivalent standard). This is a government scheme designed to verify implementation of a set of basic technical controls to help organisations protect themselves against common, online security threats and is in line with data protection legislation.

We have also developed a comprehensive library of resources available on our website here. This will provide additional information and guidance which includes:

  • The approved contractor scheme application form
  • Licence Management service customer journey
  • Code of Connection
  • Code of Connection guidance
  • Licence Management Partnership Agreement
  • Licence Management Operating Manual

The entire process from application to decision should take between three and six months.

I think that Licence Management is a significant step forward for both the industry and the SIA.

This initiative will strengthen our overall approach to driving up the quality and operational efficiency of businesses.

If you would like to know more, please send us a message through your SIA online business account using the phrase: “Tell me about Licence Management” and include a contact number.

Featured

SIA Open Day in Manchester

This month Peter Selwyn Smith our stakeholder manager talks about our recent Manchester open day on 4 July.

Our blog aims to discuss developments in the private security industry and to provide further insight and opinion on our work. We look forward to having an on-going discussion with you; please share your comments and opinions.

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The opportunity to meet with people in the industry and learn more about their experiences and priorities, is something we value enormously.

The Manchester open day, at the Crowne Plaza, on 4 July was designed to create a space for people to meet and have a conversation with us and where possible for us to resolve any issues and concerns. The format of the day was similar to the London event we held last year with the London Night Czar Amy Lame.

At the Manchester event, our licensing experts were on-hand to provide one-to-one help and support to people renewing or applying for a licence. We also had experts from across the rest of the organisation; from our Training, Quality and Standards team, Partnerships & Interventions North team and our Stakeholder Engagement team.

The day started with a session run by our Director of Partnerships & Interventions, Dave Humphries. He first gave an overview of our key priorities for the next twelve months which included:

  • How our licensing system is working well
  • The completion of the review of the Approved Contractor Scheme
  • An upcoming review of the licence-linked qualifications
  • Enforcement activity we undertake to prevent continued lawbreaking.

After a few hours, the event came to life. Some of those attending took the chance to talk with our SIA staff including our Chair, Liz France.

Our partnerships and interventions team, based in the North, also spoke to businesses about initiatives in the region. They discussed how they are dealing with those businesses who don’t comply with regulation. The importance of telling us about any non-compliant businesses in the region, also came up in conversations with delegates.

Our customer support and decisions teams held one-to-one sessions with individuals and businesses, and anyone who needed help with their applications was able to speak to a specialist immediately.

It was clear that people had given up their time and, in some cases, travelled a long distance to talk to us about their needs. For our staff, who were able to help most of the people who came, it was satisfying to see people go home happy.

We met an applicant who did not understand why his application was being held up. Our decisions manager explained the situation was due to a more complex than usual set of circumstances. Before he left, he said he felt reassured that we had not forgotten about his application, understood the situation and was now confident it would be dealt with soon.

Another applicant whom we met had mistyped their name when applying. This meant our system couldn’t find and match his online account to his existing licence, holding up his application. Our customer support experts were able to deal with this quickly as he had ID to show that his licence was linked to him. As a result, his application was able to progress there and then.

We also met with an existing licence holder about our decision to suspend his licence. He brought his employer and a friend along and we spoke with them all to explain the reasons for our decision.

On the day, the training, quality and standards team spoke to a number of businesses. They came to the event to find out more about the Approved Contractor Scheme, whether it would be right for their company and what the application process involves.

All in all, it was a valuable, lively day. The feedback we received from the event was very positive. Some of the comments include:

‘Very pleased with the service and the staff were very friendly’

‘I commend the SIA for taking the initiative to do these workshops well done’

‘Useful information gleaned from each session’

It was good to see the clear difference the day made to the individuals and businesses who came along. On the day, 13 licences were granted and several more licence applications progressed to the next stage.

We would like to thank all those who came along as we know how precious your time is. We have already begun planning the next open day and will be canvassing views on what people would find most useful. We hope to be in Birmingham in the autumn. Do look out for more details on our website, in our newsletters and on our social media channels.z

Featured

The Review of the SIA Published by the Home Office – What is to Come

This month our chief executive talks about the Home Office’s review of the SIA. He discusses the important role the private security industry plays in public safety.

This blog exists to discuss developments in the private security industry and to provide further insight and opinion on our work. Please share your comments and opinions and engage in an on-going discussion with us.

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On the 7th June the Home Office published the tailored review (formerly known as a triennial review) for the SIA. You can find it here.

For a number of reasons the review has been a long time coming. But now it is here, we welcome its publication and the important contribution the private security industry has made to its recommendations.

The private security industry is a thriving sector covering a range of services, many of which have a direct bearing on public safety. We are all used to seeing private security operatives in our everyday lives in shopping centres, pubs, leisure facilities, industrial settings and at events.

The review recognises the vital role the private security industry plays in public protection and national security. It also affirms that there is a clear need for regulation in the industry. The review acknowledges the role of the SIA in raising standards and our contribution to safeguarding, public protection and national security.

Many of the recommendations of this review reflect the SIA’s published priorities, some of which we are already delivering successfully. For example, we continue to focus on further reducing violence and criminality. As part our drive to improve standards and strengthen the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) we have recently completed a comprehensive review of the ACS. The outcomes of this review will be implemented in the spring of 2019.

Going forward we will be reviewing the qualifications and training of those working in the industry to further improve knowledge and skills to facilitate even more effective protection of the public.

The heightened security threats from terrorism in recent years have served to bring a sharper focus on the role that private security can play and whether its capabilities are being used by the state to the fullest potential.

We have been facilitating greater collaboration between the counter terrorism (CT) law enforcement community and the large numbers of security operatives in areas such as door supervision, guarding and CCTV. We are also exploring with the CT community how the private security industry can be better equipped with knowledge and skills to reduce the threat to the public from a terrorist attack.

A key part of our plan remains the delivery of excellent services at the lowest possible cost. We strive to keep fees for those we regulate as low as possible and have reduced our costs by 27% since 2010. Further efficiencies have enabled us to keep the licence fee at £220 over the last six years, despite costs rising with inflation. We have recently moved to a joint Government Hub and will continue to seek efficiencies. We are currently working with the Home Office to review fee levels.

We are aligned with the review in continuing to take an even more risk-based approach to regulation with a sharper focus on non-compliant individuals and businesses, placing less of a regulatory burden where standards have been met or exceeded.

We will work with the Home Office and Devolved Administrations to implement all parts of this review that the Government wishes to take forward. We also stand ready to take on any additional areas of regulation, should the Government ask us to do so.

Ultimately our work is dependent on partnership not just with the police and other public bodies, but with the industry itself. We seek, and continue to benefit from, the support and cooperation of those working in the private security industry and our many partners to provide effective regulation. We are grateful for that support and cooperation.

As we look to the future we look forward to continuing to work with the private security industry and our partners to deliver high quality regulation and public protection.

Ensuring the integrity of the SIA licence

Iestyn David is our Head of Licensing and Service Delivery. Here, he writes about our work to make sure that licences end up in responsible hands.

The SIA doesn’t just grant licences – although last year we granted 160,000. We make sure that only the right people hold an SIA licence. That means we refuse licence applications and revoke licences from those who are not fit to carry out the important role of protecting the public. It’s a key responsibility that we have as the regulator of the private security industry.

Our work to safeguard the integrity of the SIA licence begins with the application process. Our checks are thorough; last year we refused 1,362 licence applications for reasons such as criminality, or not having the right to work in the UK.

We won’t hesitate to remove licences from licence-holders who fail to live up to the standards required of them. Last year we suspended 917 licences and revoked 1,049 licences. Maintaining trust in the SIA licence is a top priority that involves teams across the SIA, from our Legal and Criminal Investigations teams to our Decisions officers and Intelligence staff.

We have close ties with police forces throughout the UK. They provide us with valuable intelligence relating to licence-holders or applicants involved in criminality. Our Intelligence team gathers relevant information and passes it to our Integrity team for detailed assessment, which may lead to us deciding to suspend or revoke a licence. This information can also come in from employers or members of the public via the ‘Report a Crime or Concern’ page on our website.

Our Inspections and Enforcement teams conduct enforcement operations across the UK with the police, local authorities and other government agencies. These operations may be conducted because of something we have been told (intelligence-led), or they may be random inspections to check compliance in a particular area.

We regularly prosecute those who commit offences under the Private Security Industry Act 2001. This is the Act of Parliament that established the SIA. It created several new offences, which include contravening licence conditions (you can see a full list of offences under the Act here). Last year we brought 39 prosecutions against individuals and businesses who chose to operate illegally.

We also prosecute for offences that could have a detrimental impact on the private security industry. These include fraud, forgery and counterfeiting in cases where people use forged or cloned licences. At the end of November 2022 our Criminal Investigations team had 119 open investigations, as you can see in our monthly SIA Enforcement Report.

We take our licensing responsibilities very seriously. The safety and security of the public depends on a professional and well-regulated private security industry that everyone can trust.

Christmas for the SIA Compliance & Investigation teams

John Sandlin leads the Security Industry Authority’s Compliance & Inspections teams. Here he talks about the additional work that Christmas brings as the night time economy gears up for the busiest time for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues.

John Sandlin leads the Security Industry Authority’s Compliance & Inspections teams. Here he talks about the additional work that Christmas brings as the night time economy gears up for the busiest time for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues.

When does planning for Christmas start?
Pretty much as soon as we’ve drawn a breath from the summer events season which finishes around the end of September. Then we start thinking about Christmas. We look at what inspection activity we might want to do and consider requests from partners (such as police, local authorities, and the HMRC) to undertake operations to support their own objectives too. We draw on the huge amount of expertise across the team from colleagues who know the environment well and can help identify issues we need to consider.

London, UK – November 3 2022: Christmas lights in Oxford Street, view at night

So what issues do we need to consider?
In the run up to Christmas there’s more footfall in venues. This creates an increased risk of harm to the public which in turn requires a bigger police presence supported by a larger private security resource. It’s the increased private security deployment that requires our involvement to make sure those working in licensable roles are complying with the necessary regulation.

Although there are variations across the UK, the police tend to focus on ensuring venues are licensed and adhere to the terms and conditions of that licence. This might cover maximum occupancy, fire controls, health and safety considerations and security provision. The police and local authorities are increasingly engaging with venues about protecting the vulnerable alongside checking venue licences. Actually, whenever they are out and about, most agencies talk about protecting the vulnerable as part of protecting the public.

Watch our ‘Helping people in vulnerable situations’ video here

How many of your team are involved in Christmas specific activity?
It’s fair to say all teams are doing some form of activity that directly supports or is impacted by Christmas, so most team members will be involved in that.

As we speak there’s a multi agency operation in Belfast around the ‘ask Angela’ campaign. We’ll be undertaking licence checks, whilst supporting the initiative with messages about the campaign.

Manchester, United Kingdom – November 25, 2011 – Big wheel in the City center of Manchester with beautiful lights during christmas preparation

What additional activities do we deploy for Christmas, is it more of the same or different actions?
We may undertake specific activities, especially if we have solid intelligence that provides a clear aim or benefit. However, Christmas is generally doing more of the same, but with a stronger focus on the night time economy. There’s a huge upshift in volumes and that’s the biggest difference. There’s still a need to continue with other work, for example we’re working in Oxford Street in London during the day, although, to be fair, that’s also connected to the increase in footfall in the run up to Christmas.

What do we do on the front line?
It will depend on the site and any objectives for an operation. However, primarily we’re interested in compliance with the Private Security Industry Act. So, we’re mainly checking individuals are correctly licensed and ascertaining the businesses that operatives work for to build our understanding of the makeup of the local economy. This is especially useful when newly formed companies emerge. We’re also interested in in how labour is deployed and what the labour chain looks like; the more links in a labour chain, the higher the risk of noncompliance. We also check individuals’ employment status which helps identify possible exploitation. Where possible we push other messages and support campaigns to promote awareness and conversations across the industry.

How do security operatives and venues react to your teams’ presence?
Mostly, we get a positive response. Generally, licence holders like to see us out checking licences as they don’t want rogue people in the industry. We occasionally meet one or two unlicensed operatives that may be a little reticent for want of a better word but using our skills we overcome those hurdles.

Do other agencies do similar tasks around Christmas?
The Police and local authorities will be undertaking checks based around venue licensing and will want to assure themselves that venues are complying. Sometimes they may support us on our operations, it depends on specific operations, or sometimes the location. For example, I’d be fairly happy undertaking checks in Westminster without police support but wouldn’t want to do so in other areas without them. That goes not just for London, but anywhere else, you get a good feel for what risks maybe posed in undertaking checks without partners.

How much does the night time economy grow over the festive period?
We always hear that businesses are at their busiest and it’s very true, there are more people in more venues over more nights of the week. There are additional Christmas get togethers with friends, socialising after work, organised office parties – it’s difficult to put a figure on, and it will vary from location to location, but it’s noticeably much busier. Let’s not forget this is the first Christmas without any COVID restrictions.

On top of venues being busier, there are additional entertainment venues and events to consider; pop up fairs, Christmas markets, ice rinks, entertainment offerings, temporary licensed premises.

How stable is resource in the night time economy?
If more door supervisors are needed because a company has a shortfall, then most companies will contract in staff from another to match the demand. However, what sometimes happens is the supplying company will in turn go to another to fulfil the request. This is not a problem as such, but it is a concern. With each company’s loan of resource comes a charge. This can lead to a squeeze on profit margins which is where corners can be cut. When that happens to the risk of improper employment and unlicensed personnel can start to emerge.

How effective are the operations we undertake?
Of course, we have limited resource and we can’t visit every venue. However, what we do has a definite ripple effect. When we’re in a large town or city, just by visiting a few premises, word gets around very quickly that we’re out and about undertaking checks and looking at licences. That has a great deterrent effect within the security community. So, we enlarge the size of our footprint. In addition, we work with colleagues in the Communications team to get the message out and again, this spreads across the community well.

What does it take to deploy an operation?
That’s a good question; lots of work.

Before we set foot on the ground, we undertake pre-inspection activity. This could be meetings with partners, considering intelligence we or our partners have received and undertaking a recce in the locality. We then need to work up aims and objectives before putting an operational order together. Information needs to be created within our database (CRM). Risks also need to be considered and risk assessments completed. We also need to secure resource from across the team and make sure everyone is available for the operation. In addition to staff on the ground, we always have an operational control to assist with licence checks on the STeP database, as well as then inputting the checks onto CRM. This can be quite a laborious task, especially if there are a voluminous amount.

Any last words?
The team are very committed. We have had a fair few new staff so as well as preparing and undertaking activities, experienced team members are also helping to train and guide their new colleagues in this crucial area of work. Everyone in the Compliance & Inspections team plays a part in what we do from the MST to the investigators themselves, supported by colleagues from other teams. The inspection activity being centred on the night time economy requires staff to work evenings and weekends to attend operations, which at this time of year means being out in the cold. I want to thank the teams, I appreciate everyone’s effort and support in keeping the public safe.

About the author

John Sandlin served for 30 years with the Metropolitan Police. He worked as an Investigating and Senior Investigating Officer for over 11 years investigating homicides and other serious crimes. He’s worked at the SIA since early 2015.

Commonwealth Games – Birmingham 2022

Sharon Roberts, one of our Regional Investigation Managers, coordinated our involvement in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which took place in Birmingham from 28 July to 08 August.

Here Sharon talks about the SIA’s work, which included almost two years of planning in support of the Organising Committee, West Midlands Police, and the security suppliers to deliver a safe and secure event.

The last few months have been busy, with our work starting long before the Games began. Investigators from my team, along with our Business Relationship Managers, have been supporting security suppliers on progressing licence applications and providing advice on screening and vetting. Colleagues from the wider Compliance & Inspections team contacted licence holders who were scheduled to work to check that they were still engaged and planning to turn up. You might remember the 2012 London Olympics, when headlines about security failing to attend and the last-minute call for military assistance were prominent. A lot of our work, and that of the Organising Committee, had been to avoid a similar situation.

I’ve lost count of how many times over the years I’ve said, “only trained and licensed security can ensure public protection” and this remains the mainstay of our work. To support this, we asked security suppliers to upload watchlists to ensure they only supplied licensed staff. We also provided advice on how to spot counterfeit licences.

The Commonwealth Games, as a publicly funded event, stipulated that all suppliers, including everyone in the labour supply chain, had to be an SIA approved contractor. Therefore we had to ensure conformance with the ACS (Approved Contractor Scheme) standard as well as compliance with the Private Security Industry Act. There were a couple of key aspects of the ACS standard that we really focused on: section 6, which is about how they look after their staff; and section 4, which is about conformance with HMRC requirements. In relation to the HMRC requirement, I had regular meetings with HMRC colleagues as to how we could protect HM revenue through PAYE conformance and due diligence in the labour chain.

An important element of our compliance work was our inspection programme.

The inspection element of the Games served several purposes:
. Ensuring that only SIA licensed security operatives engaged in licensable activities, thereby ensuring public safety and good standards of service delivery.
. Ensuring the wellbeing of security operatives by checking conformance with welfare aspects of the ACS.
. Conformance to the ACS requirement for operatives to be on PAYE.
. High visibility of the regulator undertaking regulatory compliance activities.

Our first major inspection took place when the Organising Committee ran test events at Alexander Stadium and the Aquatics Centre. Following on from that, we carried out inspections at Games sites as security numbers crept up, engaging with suppliers and the Committee to resolve some of the minor issues we found.

My team attended the rehearsal for the opening ceremony. The security deployment on that day was over 300 operatives. It was an extremely long, hot, rainy, and dirty day (there is no glamour in this job), but it was a joy to see such enthusiastic and friendly security operatives. There wasn’t one complaint. It was also good to see lots of women and so many young people who will hopefully see this as a start to a career in security.

We also became part of the Commonwealth Games family, cheering on the athletes while we checked licences and chatted to security personnel to make sure they were OK and being looked after.

Over the period of the Games we carried out 1,251 compliance checks across 17 separate Games sites.

The sites we visited included sports venues, athletes’ villages, and games hotels, as well as the main fanzone site in Victoria Square – and the opening and closing ceremonies, of course.

We deployed a total of 30 SIA staff during that period. The significant engagement we conducted with the private security industry contractors in the lengthy run-up to the Games undoubtedly influenced the significant levels of compliance.

As the fireworks went off at the closing ceremony on 08 August, it wasn’t just the athletes that deserved a gold medal. Every security officer, supplier, and all the SIA staff involved also earned a place on the podium for their contribution to ensuring the Games were not just great but safe.