A Professional private security industry
By Molly Meacher, Chairman
During the past twenty years the private security industry has experienced unparalleled growth. In the coming years the significance of the industry will grow dramatically.
The police service increasingly recognises that the industry is an indispensable partner in helping to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. The Police Reform Act opens up opportunities for companies to work in collaboration with the police to transform public security. Many years of lobbying from the private security industry and increasing concern from within Government has led to the establishment of the Security Industry Authority. This reform will stimulate the transformation of the industry to enable companies to respond to these new opportunities.
The Private Security Industry Act 2001 provides the legal framework for the SIA, and establishes our statutory duties. These include the raising of standards across the industry through a system of licensing for managers as well as operatives; and the establishment of an approved contractor scheme. Another significant objective is to drive out crime from the industry.
This year has seen the building of the SIA’s foundations. We have established our headquarters and developed the systems and processes that will support the new licensing system. Ministers have appointed the first SIA Board from 1 April 2003. Board Members were selected for their proven ability to manage successful organisations and for their commercial independence. We have also established the SIA Stakeholder Advisory Committee, whose role will be to ensure that our policies are relevant, feasible and fair for all sections of the industry.
The SIA has sponsored in depth research and the production of a long term sector skills strategy for the industry. In consultation with key stakeholders the SIA has produced the Licence to Practise competency standards for the first two sectors to be licensed – door supervisors and vehicle immobilisers. The big change will be a focus on communication and conflict management skills. The criminality criterion for all sectors has also been defined, carefully balancing the requirements of the Human Rights Act and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act Review on the one hand and our obligation to enhance public security on the other.
I am grateful to the many companies, awarding bodies, training organisations, associations and others who have already contributed significantly to our work. I am also indebted to our key partners, the police service and local authorities whose advice we value and who will be vital to the effectiveness of licensing in the future.
The SIA is working closely with the Learning and Skills Council, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the Sector Skills Development Agency and other national organisations able to assist with the reform and development of the security industry.
The Home Office and Scottish Executive have expressed their commitment to extend the remit of the SIA to cover Scotland, in addition to England and Wales. The Home Office and SIA are also in discussion with the Lord Chancellor’s Department about the possibility of extending SIA regulation to enforcement officers of the courts and others.
There remains a great deal to be done and I am under no illusions about the many challenges that lie ahead for the SIA and the private security industry. In the coming year, Licence to Practise standards will be developed for security officers and keyholders in close collaboration with stakeholders. Also in 2003/4 we will be finalising the criteria for voluntary company and contractor approval by the SIA; and completing the compliance and enforcement strategy for implementation alongside licensing in 2004.
All this work will be done in close collaboration with employers, industry associations and other stakeholders. We will only achieve fundamental changes in attitudes and behaviour if companies, training organisations and operatives believe in the reforms we propose.
It is my firm belief that together we can create a private security industry, which over time, will develop into a model of good practice and success.