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.


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.

Author: Security Industry Authority (SIA UK) Blog

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) is the organisation responsible for regulating the private security industry in the UK. This blog aims to give a deeper insight into the Private Security Industry within the UK.

12 thoughts on “Who do you think is responsible for raising industry standards?”

  1. The Goverment.everything is such a mess within private security until every role were security is part of the core job isbrought under the control of the S.I.A then its just a waste of time .So called in house security is a joke .People doing hostel work Saftey stewards all jobs were security is a major part of the job .But inhouse were crb checks training etc are not law any tom dick or ex con can get a job


  2. Take away awarding body’s and have exam centres like dvla must malpractice is ignored by a ao as there a business who need profit,the sia need start listening to the guys on the ground more and stop being so corporate orientated


  3. Everyone in the indistry has some degree of responsibilty , however the Sia as the govening body has the responsibitiy to improve standards and drive changies . If there is no preasure put on all parties to improve chances are things will not as the bottom line is costs and many will be unwilling to incure costs were they do not need to and for no percivible gain . It is also worth pointing out that while there needs to be improvement , while standards in the indistry relating to pay and conditions remain as they are you are not going to attract the type of people into security you need to help raise standards.


  4. I think there needs to be a trade body as i have personally been disappointed in the sia and its allowed unqualified companies and people into certain areas. This needs to change. There needs a radical overhaul of the training providers, trainers of companies and manager / directors of companies who needs to undertake a physical demonstration to prove if they really hold the qualifications for protection skills as now we’re dealing with more aggressive people who are international. The law courts, police etc also needs to support people who are injured on the job especially if they have followed de escalation techniques which have been exhausted and then a situation has turned to violence. There also needs to be a review of training say every 12 months to see if anything needs to be added like new modules plus other transferable skills and qualifications should also be taken into account for each sector.


    1. Thank you for your comment.

      There are several trade bodies that support the private security industry such as the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) and the Security Institute. We regularly review the specifications for learning and qualifications for front line operatives working in the sectors we regulate to ensure that the knowledge and/or skills specified are up-to-date.

      In terms of the quality in the delivery of qualifications, OfQual have recently published a report on licence-linked qualifications used in the private security industry: http://bit.ly/2m2vmc8. We will work closely with Ofqual to see if these can be further improved to provide additional reassurances about qualifications in this sector.

      We agree that the police and law courts should consider injuries on the job and we are lobbying for this to be a factor in sentencing.


  5. The current SIA responsibility for standards is a throwback to the nanny state days of previous government. My belief is the standards should be the responsibility of the industry stakeholders set by the the appropriate BS standards body. Standards should be set as a single standard


  6. You have asked this question before Security Industry Authority. It was one of your remits when the Home Office tasked you with the responsibility.

    If you impose a ‘standard’ in your licensing process concerning training core competencies then this ‘standard’ will become the lowest denominator that everyone subscribes because let’s face it; if a license can be provided at x-cost in y-time then what incentive is present for either the training provider or the student to pursue anything better?

    As far as the CP industry sector is concerned, what you have done is create an open door policy where anyone can enter the industry regardless of physical, mental or age conditions – to then attend an unfit for purpose course whereby vital bread and butter training objectives are omitted. To then shrug your shoulders of responsibility and state that it remains the employers responsibility when challenged highlights not only the inadequacies of the training requirements or any individual requirements but highlights the vey inadequacies of the management staff and those responsible at the SIA.

    It was a shambles when you introduced it in 2006 and remains a shambles 11 years later and here you are asking the question who is responsible for standards? Are you actually being serious?


      1. I do care immensely about the standards within the security industry, specifically those concerning the Close Protection sector – to the extent of writing a thesis and entire book devoted to the purpose and the effect of the imposed SIA training standards on the industry as a whole.

        Point to Note: My opinion is factual based having operated at the pinnacle of protection operations around the world, in a military, FCO and commercial/ private context.

        I have attended several of your stakeholder meetings over years past and found your Q & A sessions to be very dismissive when stakeholders challenged the SIA approach to training and the training objectives you had failed to include. The entire subject of ‘industry standards’ and the responsibility of them falls squarely at your feet and by introducing such a low benchmark of entering the CP industry sector you have forced wages down not to mention the actual standard of service being provided to the end user.

        The reasons for this are three-fold:

        1. Saturated industry
        2. Licensable activity which is the predominant contributing factor for pegs in holes by the contract service provider
        3. Newcomers willing to work for any rate to enable them to gain that much needed experience and first rung on the ‘ladder’.

        Until the SIA listens properly to experienced stakeholders and actually acts in raising standards in this industry we are passionate then there will be no change to the wages of those operating nor the end result of service provided.

        The SIA can conduct numerous stakeholder meetings, conferences etc to show an image of ‘concern’ and ‘we are listening to you proactively’. The bottom line is action in rectifying the abysmal approach conducted in the year preceding the licensing in 2006.

        Show a bit of professional diligence and maybe experienced and passionate individuals like myself will want to turn up to meet with you.


  7. I strongly believe that the SIA has to shoulder the majority of responsibility. Essentially creating a pay to pass standard which is no doubt open to abuse by a booming training industry.

    For every credible training company there are a number of colleges or schools which have no knowledge or experience in security, qualifying people to be awarded a licence, which has resulted in ‘a badge’ which isn’t fit for purpose.

    I have met many SIA security personnel who have paid their money for a course and got a licence despite speaking next to no English, being physically unable/ unsafe to carry out their task or with extremely questionable volatile temperaments.

    If these people were to be tested face-to-face by the Authority as an SIA run centre (like with a driving test) you would find applications drop by a third as people would know they would not meet the grade and couldn’t get ‘signed off’ or ‘helped through’ by training companies.

    It seems it’s harder to get a Tescos club card than it is to get an SIA licence making it worthless.


  8. i must share some of the same concerns as other comments made regarding “in-house” workers, luckily i am in a position where i can insist that all my manned guards are licenced but i find it troubleing that CCTV access for unlicenced individuals working i-house and indeed CCTV access for the workers outside of the security departments all together is not being more carefully looked at, after completing the CCTV operators course and gaining a much more sufficient understanding of the breaches that can so easily be made by misusing CCTV i find it odd that companies are not required to have in-house staff licenced for such activities, this is one of the fastest growing sectors in the security industry and where i can respect that companies may well have CCTV installed with no manned guarding perhaps there should be something similar to the “Approved Contractor Scheme” in place that relates to a companies use of CCTV systems and having people in positions of authority that can at least be held accountable for the proper use of the systems they have in place.


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