SIA given £17.4m Government bail-out

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sia Security guard Security industry authority

SIA given £17.4m Government bail-out
Doorstaff regulator the Security Industry Authority (SIA) has received £17.4m in extra public funding due to administration problems and "poor forecasting" of licensing demands.

Doorstaff regulator the Security Industry Authority (SIA) has received £17.4m in extra public funding due to administration problems and "poor forecasting" of licensing demands.

That¹s according to a new report from the National Audit Office (NAO), which recommends steps to make the doorstaff licensing system more effective and less costly.

However, it does commend the SIA for recording a compliance rate of more than 90% across all security sectors, with more than 248,000 licences issued.

The report attributes the shortfall in the SIA¹s finances to the fact the licence fee was set at £190 in 2003 but it cost the agency £215 to process an application.

In addition, the original system for producing licences was "unable to cope with the large number of later-than-planned applications" in the winter of 2005/2006.

The SIA aims to process 80% of applications within six weeks, but by September 2005 it took up to four weeks for them to even be entered into the system.

The updated system was also not ready on time in autumn 2007, meaning the backlog in applications increased. The two problems costs an extra £1m.

Tim Burr, head of the National Audit Office, said: "The security industry has been subject to suspicion and even criminality in the past and the SIA has done well to set up a licensing system which has secured a high level of compliance.

"Poor cost forecasting and ineffective management of the licensing scheme have, however, resulted in the SIA spending over £17 million more than planned.

"The Authority needs to improve the quality of its forecasting and its management of the scheme so that it is better equipped for dealing with future demand for licences."

SIA chief executive Mike Wilson said: "We welcome and accept the NAO's recommendations.

"Implementation of the report¹s recommendations is already being planned. Indeed, in some areas, progress had already been made prior to the review, such as the feasibility study to consider the compulsory registration of private security companies.

"There will always be more to do, and we will continue to improve our regulatory regime and to raise standards in the private security industry to protect the public."

The report recommends:

* Improving the quality of forecasting - with short, medium and long term forecasts - to keep on top of demand for licences

* More flexibility in deploying resources so systems aren¹t overwhelmed

* Private security firms to register with the SIA

* A new sanction for firms that persist in minor transgressions of the law

* Improving relations between the SIA and councils and police to show evidence of how the regime is being enforced

* The SIA to have direct access to information held by other Government agencies to reduce red tape

Related topics Legislation

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