by SIA Site Admin // February 6

What is the SIA?
The SIA is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) responsible directly to the Home Secretary. An NDPB carries out specialised functions on behalf of its ‘parent’ government department and has substantial operational freedom in discharging the functions given to it.

The SIA became a separate organisation on 1st April 2003, with its own governing Board, Chairman (Peter Hermitage) and Chief Executive (John Saunders). It has headquarters in Central London and a regional structure covering England and Wales.

How will the public benefit from licensing?
The public will be able to rely on the fact that anyone legitimately possessing an SIA licence has demonstrated a given level of probity and professionalism, and that any company legitimately showing SIA approval is able to deliver a certain quality of service. The public will, therefore, for the first time have a national benchmark of probity and professionalism in the private security industry.

What sectors will be covered?
Anyone working in designated sectors of the industry in England and Wales will require a licence. The designated sectors are:

  • Door supervisors both in-house and supplied under contract,
  • Vehicle immobilisers on private land both in-house and supplied under contract,
  • Security guards supplied under contract
  • Key holders supplied under contract
  • Close protection operatives supplied under contract
  • Cash and valuables in transit operatives supplied under contract
  • CCTV (public space surveillance) operatives supplied under contract
  • Private investigators supplied under contract

How much does a licence cost?
The application fee will cost £190 for an individual licence, this will cover the licence holder for a three year period (or one year for vehicle immobilisers).

Who will be held responsible for operatives working without a licence?
It will be the responsibility of the individual and his/her employer to ensure that an operative is licensed. The person receiving the services also needs to verify that the staff being supplied to them do hold the valid licences.

What are the penalties for working without an SIA licence?
Any individual who carries out licensable activities without a valid SIA licence is at risk of prosecution under the Private Security Industry act 2001, the penalties for this can be either:

  • Summary conviction at a Magistrates Court – where the maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to £5000.
  • Trial on indictment at the Crown Court – where the maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

If you receive a warning or caution for working without a valid SIA licence, this may be taken into consideration in any subsequent licence application. This could result in you not being considered to be a “fit and proper” person to be licensed and your application rejected. Please note that as the £190 is a licence application fee, it is not refundable in the event of the licence being rejected.

Will the application fee be refunded if an application fails?
The licence application fee is not refundable if a licence is refused. It covers the costs of the administration and statutory checks the SIA makes on every application, whether or not the final decision is grant or refusal. Monies will be returned to the applicant only if the application form cannot be adequately processed, for example due to incomplete, unsigned or illegible completion of the form.

What will the SIA training course for security guards include?
The training course is in two parts:

Part One – Knowledge based training and assessment (22 ½ hours)

  • Role and responsibilities of security officers
  • Customer care and social skills
  • Fire safety
  • Health and safety
  • Dealing with incidents and emergencies
  • The Law (civil and criminal)
  • Procedures for the control of keys and equipment
  • Assignment instructions
  • Reporting

Part Two – Practical scenario based training and assessment (7½ hours)

  • Communication skills
  • Conflict management

How do applicants use previous relevant qualifications when applying for an SIA licence?
Applicants should take existing original certificates to a training provider who will asses exemption from training and/or exams. The existing certificates will then be exchanged for a new certificate that can be used as part of the application process. There may be a small handling fee to provide this service.

If I have a criminal conviction can I still get a licence?
The SIA will conduct a criminal check on each licence applicant. If the check reveals any convictions, cautions or warnings on the record we will consider how relevant, serious and recent the offence is to the licence being sought. This will be one of the key factors that determines whether or not a licence will be granted. In addition the applicant must also pass an identity check and achieve the appropriate skills through training.

Apart from training and criminality, what other checks are made during the application?
As well as checking your identity, training, and criminal record, we may also look at three other types of information.

– Mental health
We will take into account any recent mental health problems where you have had to be detained in the five years prior to your application. We will not seek out information about any mental health problems which have not resulted in detention.

– Use of other information
We will not normally seek out information about you that may be held by organisations we work with – such as the police and local authorities – which has not been tested in the courts. But if such information is offered to us, then we will consider it. In this context ‘information’ will normally mean compelling evidence of relevant criminal activity as defined in the list of offences on page x of this booklet, anti-social behaviour or criminal association. If we do not grant you a licence on the basis of this information then we will tell you, and you can, if you wish, challenge the decision and the information on which it was based.

– The right to work
We may seek information to confirm that you have the right to remain and to work in this country.

When will licensing cover Scotland?
Following the announcement of the Scottish Executive, in March 2004, that it will implement regulation of the private security industry through the SIA, we shall be working with Scotland and the Home Office to establish a programme plan and a target date for the start of licensing.