The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has announced the key changes from the latest review of its flagship Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) for private security businesses. The changes will take effect on 1 April 2019. The ACS was established in 2006 with a stated purpose ‘to protect the public and to maintain and improve standards in the private security industry’. The ACS has undergone a number of reviews since then, but this latest review took a ‘root and branch’ look at the scheme.
Evidence from the extensive consultation suggested that the SIA didn’t need to make fundamental changes to the scheme. However, it was clear from the responses that there were opportunities to make improvements.
The changes that have been made are rooted in the feedback from the consultation. They include the following:
*an update to the standard to place more of an emphasis on service delivery and less of an emphasis on processes. This will help businesses to drive improvement to the service that they provide for customers. The new ACS standard will be mandatory from 1 April 2019. All Approved Contractors have until this date to ensure that they’re ready to be assessed against the indicators in the new Self-Assessment Workbook
*a revised Self-Assessment Workbook. This contains the quality indicators that Approved Contractors must demonstrate have been met. The Self-Assessment Workbook has been streamlined and made clearer and easier to navigate. The new Self-Assessment Workbook and a summary of the high level changes to it may be viewed on the Regulator’s website
*a revised eligibility and ‘fit and proper’ criteria to ensure that only sound, sustainable and credible companies are able to join the scheme. The enhanced scrutiny will give clients and local enforcement partners the assurance that they are working with some of the best-run businesses in the industry
*a firmer approach with PAYE. Approved Contractors must give justification and evidence as to why their staff are not PAYE. This will help to ensure that businesses are employing staff on the right basis, ensuring compliance with tax and employment law as well as making certain that employees of Approved Contractors enjoy proper employment rights
Marketing approach revision
The SIA is revising its approach to how it markets the ACS and provides support for businesses. This will include more support, via a Resource Centre, for applicants and existing businesses to meet or exceed minimum ACS requirements
Since the review was concluded, two key developments have taken place which will benefit Approved Contractors:
*The Crown Commercial Service, through whose commercial agreements £13 billion of public sector procurement spend is channelled, has agreed that membership of the ACS will be a mandatory requirement of becoming a supplier on Lot 1 A of its major Facilities Management Marketplace agreement in England and Wales
*The revised ACS is being endorsed publicly by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, giving a clear steer to buyers of security that Approved Contractors are preferred by police forces
Raising the standards
Stephen McCormick, the SIA’s director of operations and standards, explained: “Since the ACS was launched in 2006, we have made incremental changes which have ensured the standard has been raised. During this review, we consulted extensively with Approved Contractors and the wider private security industry to fundamentally test the integrity of the ACS and its ability to drive improvement. Our evidence tells us that the ACS has achieved this aim and has had a transformational effect in driving up standards within the industry.”
McCormick added: “We are building on a successful quality standard and have made a number of key changes which will strengthen the scheme. Our aim for the future of the ACS is a growing partnership with private security industry businesses that demonstrates the value and contribution they make to UK plc.”