The second Security Industry Authority conference of the year was opened and chaired by Dave Humphries, Director of Compliance, Intelligence and Communication, who welcomed delegates to the Sheffield venue. He stressed the importance of industry input as the SIA develops plans for the future of regulation for the private security industry.
The audience then heard from SIA Chairman Baroness Ruth Henig, whose keynote speech outlined the achievements of the SIA far – such as compliance and enforcement activity and excluding unfit individuals from the industry, and the success of the ACS scheme – and gave an overview of intentions for the future.
Baroness Henig told delegates:
“We must ensure that together we build upon previous achievements in regulation, and develop a regime suitable for an evolving industry. We know that regulation needs to change and adapt to remain relevant in years to come. This will mean a lighter touch for compliant businesses and individuals, a lower cost approach, focussed on business licensing with businesses taking primary responsibility for checking and registering their employees, and the industry taking increased responsibility for driving up standards.”
She called upon delegates to share with the SIA what they saw as the priorities, and to work together to ensure adequate and appropriate regulation for the future.
This was reinforced by Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone, who in a video message said that the conference presented “a fantastic opportunity for you, the members of the private security industry, to come together to discuss the challenges, and contribute to the shaping of, the future of, your industry.” She said: “There are important developments occurring within the private security sector. The Government hopes that these developments will lead to better regulation of the industry across the UK, ensuring that the private security industry continues to flourish whilst maintaining the high standards it has previously achieved, in helping to secure public protection.”
An overview of plans for the transition was delivered by Hazel Russell, SIA Director of Transition, in her presentation ‘SIA Proposals for the Future’. She explained the key components of future regulation – a new regulatory body outside Government, the licensing of businesses, and a register of individuals fit and proper to work in industry, underpinned by effective compliance and enforcement.
Steve McCormick, SIA Director of Service Delivery, then spoke on ‘Designing Services Fit for the Future’. He said that with future regulation being developed to be business focussed and to achieve reduced burden and cost, there would need to be changes and improvements to service delivery. He described current plans to continue to improve the licensing and customer service, such as website improvements, a better bulk application process, and electronic contact and payment methods.
The morning concluded with two discussion groups on the development of key operational functions. ‘The Approved Contractor Scheme and the Future of the Hallmark’ was chaired by ACS Assistant Director Andrew Shephard and Quality Assurance Manager Jody Parker. They set out plans for approved contractors to automatically qualify for the new business licence, and for the current ACS scheme to continue at least until compulsory business licensing is established. Delegates at the session agreed that the continuation of a hallmark scheme was crucial, in order to differentiate between the quality mark and the compulsory business licence. They called for acknowledgement of ACS membership within business licensing criteria, a continued licence dispensation scheme, and for all public sector contracts to be awarded to ACS contractors.
‘Individual Applications, the Challenge for Employers’, was delivered by Assistant Director of Customer Service and Quality Improvement Christy Hopkins. He explained that individual applications would be primarily the responsibility of businesses, with applications submitted through an employer or ‘Mediated Access Partner’, being e-enabled to ensure reduced burden and duplication. Applications would be only for new entrants, with no renewals rather a regular subscription, and a revocation and suspension process would remain in place, he said. In feedback, delegates stressed the importance of maintaining public safety through regular criminal record checks. They also said that as plans developed they would want clarification on how the qualifications upload and checking process would work.
The afternoon sessions were commenced by James Kelly of the Security Alliance, who welcomed the strong commitment to regulation that had been shown by the SIA, Government and the industry. He was followed by Alastair Thomas, Home Office CCTV regulator, who spoke about the need for joined-up regulation in the sector and the considerations for CCTV practices in the future. Delegates then heard from Ian Thomas, Head of Integration and Delivery at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, who outlined the expected impact of the Olympics in 2012 and security requirements. Finally, the importance of targeting of serious and organised crime in the private security industry was discussed by Paul Evans from KPMG, former Director of Interventions at the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
In concluding the day, SIA Chief Executive Bill Butler said there would now be a change of pace as in-depth planning of the new regime unfolded. He told delegates:
“It has been so useful to have you together here today to share views and give us your input and feedback. “I am conscious of the rapid progress and many changes that have been made throughout the past year. But, now that we are in the position of having a clear commitment from Government, and a clear framework for the future of regulation, this will mean a considered pace of change. We will take the time to make sure we get the details right, and that you in the industry have the time to give the necessary input and of course to adapt to the new regulatory regime.”