The Security Industry Authority (SIA) recently held its annual Stakeholder Conference in central London. In the Keynote Speech, Elizabeth France CBE – chairman of the industry’s regulatory body – mentioned that it’s now exactly four years since the Government initiated its Public Bodies Review.
A very strong pronouncement back in 2010 stated the SIA would no longer be a Non-Departmental Public Body and that a ‘phased transition to a new regulatory regime’ was about to commence.
During the intervening period, the Regulator – brilliantly led by CEO Bill Butler – has worked hand-in-glove with companies across the private security sector to propel regulation forward. Importantly, that work has included fashioning detail around the aforementioned ‘new regime’ and, specifically, the creation of a model focused more on security businesses.
The fact that there’s still no concrete timetable for the introduction of business licensing is – as Elizabeth France rightly stated at conference – both “disappointing and frustrating”.
France continued: “We at the SIA recognise the expenditure and effort the industry has put towards preparing for business licensing and, of course, the ongoing costs around the continuing uncertainties, but it’s a Government matter.”
The SIA is necessarily a creature of statute. It must align to the legislative vehicles with which it’s provided by the Home Office. What it cannot do is work without proper legislation or powers.
“We’ve done everything we can to prepare for business licensing,” asserted France. “The SIA and the industry remain ready for that licensing as and when we have the legislation, but we cannot stand still and wait. We have to move forward.”
The Regulator has worked with the sector on a shared framework for business licensing and duly delivered to Westminster a bold statement of intent.
Security businesses presently in a poor shape can expect regulatory and/or legal interventions, the clear use of licence conditions and restrictions, the threat of removal of their licence to operate and the deliverance of higher indirect costs.
For aspiring companies, the SIA is adamant that there will be distinct standards for improvement and, indeed, strategic interventions designed to support that betterment.
As Elizabeth France explained at conference: “The burden of regulation will be proportionate. There will be protection from incompetent and criminal businesses and there will be proportionate costs.”
Importantly, first class security businesses will be recognised for doing what they do best – delivering a respected and highly professional service to their end user customers. For those same end users, there’s the promise of “greater engagement” with the Regulator and “clearer information to support informed security purchases”.
The guarding sector is crucial to the safety of our nation. Its constituent members work long and hard – often under extremely difficult circumstances – to protect life, limb, property and brand reputation for the clients whom they serve so diligently on a daily basis.
If the Government is truly cognisant of that message it must act with legislatory haste. Time is pressing.
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK