Industry Qualifications issues update on Ashley Commerce College and outlines BBC response

Raymond Clarke: CEO at Industry Qualifications

Raymond Clarke: CEO at Industry Qualifications

Following the broadcast of the BBC’s Inside Out programme back in March, during which an Industry Qualifications (IQ) Assessment Centre was exposed as operating in a fraudulent manner, IQ has been working to remove fraudulent certification, strengthen its own procedures in light of the new understanding gained from the exposure and liaising with the BBC on the evidence realised by the undercover investigation.

IQ has publicly welcomed the BBC’s investigation and believes that the evidence collected as a result of the Inside Out programme will provide “significant assistance” when it comes to reducing fraud within the training sector.

However, IQ has been critical of some aspects of the BBC’s programme, in particular the broadcaster’s failure to make it clear to viewers that IQ was not the only awarding organisation affected.

In conversation prior to broadcast, the BBC had explained that it held evidence of suspected fraud and malpractice at 20 Assessment Centres (two of them IQ centres) working with a number of awarding organisations.

In response to a wider complaint from IQ, the BBC has now stated: “The relevant section of the programme made no allegation of wrongdoing on the part of IQ.”

The broadcaster also “agrees that it would have given viewers a more complete picture of the extent of the fraud if it had been made clear that other awarding organisations were also affected.”

IQ welcomes this acknowledgement as it highlights what’s clearly an industry issue. “Despite a considerable amount of excellent practice in the training supply side to the sector,” states IQ, “there’s clearly a level of fraud and malpractice which is not insignificant and which must be addressed collectively by regulators, awarding organisations and the sector itself.”

Update on the present situation

Since first being made aware of potentially fraudulent activity in February, IQ has published a White Paper detailing the changes that it believes are required if suspected fraud within the training supply chain to the sector is to be successfully tackled. The company has also published details of changes that IQ is making to reduce the potential risk of fraud.

A total of 251 candidates have had their certificates voided, in turn leading to the withdrawal of 129 Security Industry Authority licenses. Ten individuals appealed against the decision to void their certificates, all of whom have now been investigated and the original IQ decisions subsequently confirmed as standing.

A minority of those who appealed appear to have been genuinely defrauded on an issue relating to a second license. Subsequently, they’ve been advised and assisted around how to take their complaints to the police service.

A number of directors, trainers and administrators at Ashley Commerce College – along with the students who were party to fraud – have been reported to the police service along with three trainers working in other centres who were referring students to Ashley Commerce College.

In addition to the situation at Ashley Commerce College, IQ states that it “now has details of a number of trainers and training companies” where allegations of fraudulent practice have been made and is currently considering how this intelligence can legally be shared with other awarding organisations.

An official statement reads: “It’s the view of IQ that more needs to be done across the awarding organisations to provide better and timelier intelligence” in order “to reduce opportunities for wrongdoing.”

IQ is also calling for a named contact point within the police service for those awarding organisations reporting instances of suspected fraud.

“The response of the police service to date has been wholly inadequate,” explained Raymond Clarke, CEO at IQ. “Part of this is around a lack of understanding of awarding organisations and the damage that can be done by examination fraud. IQ will be initiating civil action later this summer once the costs of the fraud have been calculated. Candidates will be given the opportunity to make a donation through IQ to a charity nominated by ourselves in order to avoid being drawn into civil action, but all of the trainers concerned will face significant claims for damages.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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