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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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.

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