The SIA: to be or not to be

By Paul Chase

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Security, Regulation, License, Security industry authority

Chase: looking at SIA replacement options
Chase: looking at SIA replacement options
What may replace the SIA if it is axed? Paul Chase discusses the options including a licence granted locally that enables the holder to work nationally.

That is the question! I'm referring here to the Coalition Government's plans to axe the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and introduce a 'phased transition to a new regulatory system'.

You can almost hear the legendary Sir Humphrey's soothing voice, "Yes minister, of course" — whilst inwardly thinking "Change? Change? Aren't things bad enough already?"

In this instance Sir Humphrey might just be right, given that the Government doesn't have a clue about what this 'new regulatory system' will look like, people may be forgiven for preferring the devil they know.

But Sir Humphrey is a cunning old bird, skilled in the art of delay, and has clearly been hard at work. I hear that the 'phased transition' will not see the actual demise of the SIA until at least 2014 - after we've got the Olympics and then the Commonwealth Games out of the way. Well, anything could happen between now and 2014, including a General Election, so don't bank on the SIA going just yet.

If the SIA goes, what should replace it? I see already that various organisations are jockeying for position to run a 'slimmed-down' version of the SIA - particularly for the regulation of door supervision.

At £245 per licence application (renewals every three years) they see it as a potential money-spinner. The SIA itself is apparently mooting the possibility that organisations with 'trusted partner status', such as qualification awarding bodies, might get licence granting powers.

I cannot think of a more silly idea. Yes, door supervisors, and other security personnel, have to pass a 'licence to practise' qualification, but are awarding bodies going to apply the criminality criteria and operate a licence appeals procedure? That surely goes well beyond their remit.

'Localism' is back in fashion, but no one wants to go back to an unregulated door security sector, nor to the patchwork quilt of each council operating its own licensing scheme.

But applications for personal licences (for people authorising the sale of alcohol) are already processed by local councils, on the basis of national training and criminality criteria set by the DCMS.

A licence granted locally, but which enables the holder to work nationally delivers total portability. This could be the model for the licensing of door supervisors, and other security personnel, and could provide a source of income for cash-strapped councils.

That would leave the future of the SIA's Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) as the only issue to be decided. ACS is basically ISO 9000 with bells on, so there should be no lack of organisations willing to take it on - the British Security Industry Association perhaps?

But all this speculation on my part presumes that government will actually carry through its proposal to axe the SIA. Will it do so? My money's on Sir Humphrey.

Paul Chase, Director and Head of UK Compliance, CPL Training

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