Plans to make private security businesses across the UK more accountable for quality and standards were unveiled by the government today.
The Security Industry Authority (SIA) currently regulates the private security industry through the compulsory licensing of individuals who work as security guards including door supervisors, CCTV operatives and those involved in close protection (eg bodyguards).
Fresh proposals, which are now the subject of a public consultation, would move responsibility for the standards and behaviour of 330,000 security staff from the SIA onto an estimated 4,200 businesses currently operating in the UK.
This will free up the SIA to focus its resources on driving up standards across the industry and combating organised criminality by targeting companies or employees that fail to meet required standards.
As industry regulator, the SIA will have a range of penalties at its disposal for businesses that do not uphold standards including banning them from working in the private security industry and even criminal prosecution.
The change will also reduce costs on both individual licensees and the private security industry as a whole. At present it is estimated that businesses usually pay the costs of licences for their staff. Proposals would mean that the process for licensing individuals would rely on usual recruitment processes, removing duplicate costs, and reduce the SIA’s role. This will in turn reduce costs on the industry and achieve savings which customers are expected to benefit from.
Minister for Criminal Information Lord Taylor of Holbeach said: ‘The government is committed to reforming the private security industry in order to improve transparency and accountability.
‘Our plans will raise standards and free up the SIA to concentrate on stamping out poor business practices and criminality.
‘It is also important that legitimate businesses are not over burdened by government regulation and red-tape. By lowering the cost of regulation on the industry, savings can be passed onto customers.’
The SIA will set the conditions for business regulation which will include ensuring that businesses are fit and proper by checking the identity, financial probity and criminality of the business and those running it. The SIA will approve businesses to work and maintain a register of regulated businesses and licensed individuals. Criminality checks on individuals will still be carried out by the SIA.
Chief Executive of the SIA Bill Butler said: ‘The SIA has been working with the private security industry to deliver better, quicker and cheaper regulation.
‘We welcome the government’s proposal for more efficient and cost effective regulation, which will continue to reduce criminality, protect the public and improve standards within the industry.’
The public consultation on the future regulatory regime for the private security industry has been launched today and will run for eight weeks.
If the government’s preferred option of making private security businesses across the UK more accountable is accepted, legislation to enable the reforms to take place would be passed by October 2013 with changes coming into force after this date. Responsibility for the regulation of the private security industry is fully devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland. It will therefore be up to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland to decide whether to opt-in to the reforms.