unveils 2014 Top 30 ‘league table’ of UK security companies has examined the turnovers of the UK's Top 30 regulated security companies in the private sector has examined the turnovers of the UK’s Top 30 regulated security companies in the private sector

Due to the increasing popularity of the annual listing, the decision was taken to increase the ‘league table’ and feature 30 companies operating in a market where, in 2014, the regulated security sector has remained static in terms of turnover at £3.2 billion. 

The annual turnover of the new Top 30 is estimated at £2,953,000,000. This represents 92.42% of the annual turnover of the regulated security sector.

The Top 5 companies – namely G4S, Securitas, Mitie Total Security Management, VSG and OCS – share approximately 55.9% of the regulated security market between them, a market which has decreased marginally from 2013.

In 2014 there are five new entrants to the Top 30. Those companies are Cardinal Security, Guarding UK, Ward Security, Lodge Service and Interr Security.

It’s apparent that the march of the bundled services providers continues with 18 such companies featuring in the Top 30 for this calendar year.

The Top 30 mirrors the regulated private security sector which includes companies operating within the following security disciplines: security guarding, Cash and Valuables in Transit, close protection, door supervision, Public Space Surveillance (CCTV) and key holding.

Access the full table 2014 Annual Review

Once again, margins – or the lack thereof – were a key feature of commercial activity in the security services sector throughout the course of the year, writes’s publisher Bobby Logue. There appears to be no cohesive approach in terms of how to face up to this challenge.

Recently, argued that the present status quo in terms of margins is the result of procurement-led organisations financially squeezing their suppliers. Those end user organisations are in danger of placing their own businesses at risk.

Commoditisation of security services has resulted in suppliers racing downhill and realises a detrimental effect on the fabric of the security industry. There’s little doubt that margin erosion has removed the key ingredients of a professional security service. A lack of professional site surveys, reductions in operational management, minimal basic training and low pay can be the end result.

While the paucity of workable margins is a blight on our sector, there are excellent examples of where some client organisations are addressing these issues with their security services providers.

In the UK, the telling statistic is that approximately 60% of license holders across the regulated private security industry do not renew their Security Industry Authority (SIA) licenses.

Issue of ‘margin creep’

The issue of ‘margin creep’ in the security services sector throughout Europe has concerned trade bodies to the extent that they’ve now issued a manual entitled Buying Quality Private Security Services which is underwritten by the European Commission to encourage best value procurement throughout the EU.

“Choosing security services based on quality and not just price may sound obvious, but it’s not always the case as an increasing number of security services provided to public and private authorities alike are awarded solely on cost,” said Marc Pissens, President of the Confederation of European Security Services (CoESS) which is the European umbrella organisation for 26 national private security employers’ associations. “This undermines all efforts to improve the quality of the services being provided. Choosing a quality service provision means reinforcing citizens’ trust in our services and our industry at large.”

The manual, drafted jointly by CoESS and UNI Europa, is an important update of the 1999 version. It emphasises the need to support the private security industry’s investments in improving the quality of its services and implementing high professional standards as well as providing fair working conditions while at the same time attracting much-needed new employees.

Professor Martin Gill FSyI: director of PRCI

Professor Martin Gill FSyI: director of PRCI

Further, Professor Martin Gill and Charlotte Howell of Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International, authors of the Security Research Initiative Report published in August 2012 (and which is arguably the largest survey of the security industry ever undertaken), have stated that their study findings would surprise many.

Indeed, Professor Gill told “Security is facing a challenging time. The evidence suggests that security is not in a poor state, but there are issues that need to be addressed. The security sector needs to respond in a more co-ordinated way when it comes to highlighting with evidence what end users and buyers should receive from a good security company that they wouldn’t from a bad one. The sector also needs to show how this can and is being achieved on a cost-effective basis.” believes that the Security Research Initiative Report highlights the reality that it’s the responsibility of the industry to demonstrate that good security is provided though best value procurement as opposed to best price procurement.

However, since the release of the PRCI report we have seen no initiatives from the security industry to address this issue.

Structural reform of the regulated private security sector

Another area that requires swift attention is structural reform of the regulated private security sector. It’s often stated that the blame for lack of progress in regard to business licensing lies at the door of the SIA. We believe this is an incorrect view. Rather, the present situation is solely due to the intransigence of the Government.

We do believe, however, that the SIA’s Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) has outworn its usefulness due to its approval system accepting inspection scores ranging from 0 to 174. This vast range of scores is confusing to most procurement teams and can result in their selection of a company with ACS accreditation regardless of the level of quality management offered.

There’s an oft-quoted security industry phrase: “The provision of security services should be about how to secure a business and not how to man a business”. Unless this philosophy is adopted, will almost certainly be reporting once again on the woes of the security industry.

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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