Written on February 1, 2012
In October 2010, the Government announced a “phased transition to a new regulatory regime” for the private security industry. A fact sheet from the Security Industry authority (SIA) outlines the latest proposals, which seek to answer worries about the approved contractor scheme, and what training will be required of contract guards and other regulated categories of workers. The transition is on hold until after the London Olympics.
The SIA says:
Formal proposals will go out to public consultation in 2012 and will be subject to final approval from the Home Office. Future regulation in Scotland and Northern Ireland will be subject to decision by the devolved administrations. A separate consultation on the position of future regulation in Northern Ireland will be undertaken by the Department of Justice; the SIA’s proposals will form part of this consultation. Further details on the proposals will be announced following the outcome of the formal consultation.
What’s happening to the SIA?
At the moment it’s business as usual and there will be no major changes to SIA regulation or the Approved Contractor Scheme, before the London Olympics 2012.
Who will regulate the private security industry in the future?
The Government intends to pass legislation in order to set up a new regulatory body, independent of Government. It is suggested that the new body should continue to use the name SIA to recognise and protect industry investment in the brand. Regulation will continue to protect the public and penalties for non-compliance will continue.
Proposals may include that the Board of the new regulator is made up of an independent Chair, other independent members, and members with industry expertise, the Home Office, Scotland and Northern Ireland administrations.
So what’s the difference between the current regime and the future proposals?
The big difference is that the regulator will license businesses operating in designated areas of the private security industry. It will be a criminal offence for a business to provide a security service unless the business is licensed.
Businesses will need to demonstrate that they meet the licensing criteria and comply with the licensing terms and conditions, which will include conformance with the relevant British Standards. There will be a single security business licence.
In recognition of the needs of small and micro businesses, special consideration will be given to varying business licensing criteria, terms and conditions to reduce the burden on them.
The regulator will maintain a register of individuals authorised to undertake regulated activity within the private security industry. Proposals could include that the terms and conditions of business licensing will also include a requirement for the business to ensure a registration process is carried out for employees that confirms their identity, address history, right to work, qualifications and a criminal record check.
What else will the new body do?
The regulator will set and ensure registration standards for individuals and will run an online register, but the regulator will not manage the application process. Technology will be updated and the use of e-channels increased, which will result in more automation and less paperwork.
Individuals will be able to access the registration system via a web portal to enter/update their details, but they will need to complete their registration through authorised businesses and other partners. The regulator will set the standards for assessing individuals, and apply the standards for qualifications set by an industry-led skills organisation.
The regulator will still have powers to enforce the law and will still work closely with partners such as the police, but there will be more responsibility for the industry and the industry will be encouraged to raise business standards and individual competence.
What about my training?
The Private Security Industry Act 2001 requires the SIA to set and approve standards for training, but development of competency specifications has always been undertaken in consultation with stakeholders and based on industry best practice. We propose to transfer the development of the standards that are used for the licence-linked qualifications to a suitable industry skills body. This means that industry will set the training requirement for a licence, which will help ensure that training is relevant and meaningful for individuals and reflects industry requirements.
How much will it cost?
The application fee and subscription rates have yet to be determined, but we will consult with the industry.
Businesses will pay a licence application fee and an annual subscription fee. The cost for individual registration is expected to be lower than the current levels. It is expected that when the new system is introduced allowance will be made for any time remaining on an existing licence. For example, if your licence still has one year to run you will be transferred to the new system for one year without incurring any further cost.
What will happen to the ACS?
The industry has invested a great deal of time and effort in the ACS, and buyers (including many government organisations) specify the ACS. Industry investment in the ACS will be protected. The voluntary scheme is expected to continue in its current form at least until compulsory business licensing is established. In the longer term, depending on new legislation, an industry-led organisation could take responsibility for the voluntary scheme.
What happens during the move to a new system?
There will be a smooth transition to any new system. Licensed individuals will automatically be entered on the new register. All businesses will need to prepare for business licensing, but ACS companies will be best placed to meet business licensing criteria.
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