Licence-linked qualifications used in private security

This report sets out our work over the last 18 months in response to concerns about qualifications used in the private security industry.


Licence-linked qualifications used in the private security industry

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We found problems with some of the qualifications, and this report explains the actions we have taken as a result and what we will do next.

Over 300,000 people are employed in licensed roles in the UK’s private security industry. Activities include security guarding, door supervision and public space surveillance and are regulated by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). People who want to work in the industry have to get a licence to work, for which they need a qualification issued by an awarding organisation endorsed by the SIA.

In addition to Ofqual’s requirements of awarding organisations offering such qualifications, the SIA has its own quality rules. Only those awarding organisations that have demonstrated the capacity and expertise to deliver to the industry may award licence-linked qualifications. The SIA also requires awarding organisations to implement strict rules that govern the delivery of qualifications, as well as setting requirements for the quality monitoring of assessment centres and the reporting and investigation of malpractice allegations.

There are good reasons to think that the qualifications in this sector are particularly at risk, and over the past 2 years there have been concerns raised about malpractice, including allegations broadcast by the BBC. Given the volume and importance of these qualifications, we took these concerns seriously. We investigated some specific concerns, and we examined how the awarding organisations delivering security qualifications manage the risks of malpractice. We found problems in some awarding organisations, which might have contributed to malpractice.

Published 31 January 2017