Cowboy operators beware: Certification scheme breaks new ground

Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
September 28, 2017

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A register of competent installers and maintainers of electronic security and fire systems was launched recently.

Endorsed by the BSIA, SSAIB, SIRA (a Dubai security regulator) and Tavcom Training, the CTSP Register includes individuals who have demonstrated that they have at least a year’s experience and are suitably qualified in the disciplines – including Video Surveillance Systems (CCTV), access control and fire, intrusion and hold-up alarm systems – they claim to provide services in.

The initiative, it is hoped, will help customers find trustworthy, suitably qualified operators and undermine cowboy traders.

But buyers of security installation or integration services can already filter prospects down to those certified by the SSAIB or NSI – so what problem is the new certification solving?

Where the CTSP Register breaks new ground is that individuals, not their employers, are certified. This makes it easier for security firms to recruit competent installers, in turn further reassuring their customers.

Long bemoaned across the industry, the previous accreditation vacuum for individual installers has arguably allowed incompetent or unscrupulous traders to flourish.

Installers and integrators are being urged to become ‘Certified Technical Security Professionals’ (CTSP) to demonstrate their bona fides and enjoy greater exposure to potential customers.

Registrants, whose presence on the register is subject to an ethics code and disciplinary process, can adorn their business cards, vehicle and marketing materials with the CTSP insignia.

“There is clear evidence many installation and maintenance jobs are often subcontracted, leading to unnecessary risks and potential claims.” David Gill, MD, Linx International Group

In a widely shared article published by IFSEC Global last November, Michael Lines, a senior consultant for security integrations, said that “increasingly, suppliers who provide certification on their products also certify individuals. They often accept the transfer of individuals from one installer company to another.

“Those of us who are reputable companies accept this – even if it does mean the possibility of investing in training an individual only for them to move on after the event. Although, in real terms, this offers a stronger incentive to both parties to ensure satisfaction in the workplace and, hence, long-term staff retention.”

“Equal footing”

Fast forward a year and Lines would surely back the principles underpinning the new register. “If individual, independent installers had to be both accredited and certified, it would help the industry’s overall professional standing,” he wrote. “It would help accredited businesses compete on an equal footing. It could also tie in with insurance, much as CORGI has achieved in the gas equipment installation business.”

David Gill, managing director of the Linx International Group, which owns CTSP backer Tavcom Training, has reflected on the problems that gave rise to the scheme: “There was a lot of unrest about the lack of standards,” he told Security Buyer in a recent interview.

“You can have a gold standard manufacturer, and a gold standard security system but there is no assurance for the end user that the installer of that system is qualified. There is clear evidence many installation and maintenance jobs are often subcontracted, leading to unnecessary risks and potential claims.”

He hopes that, ultimately, the CTSP will reach critical mass and become the de facto gold standard for installer competence. “I hope in time, that with strong industry backing, procurement managers seeking tenders for security systems will automatically specify [that] installation and maintenance work must be conducted by a registered CTSP technician.”

The CTSP Register is modelled on the framework used by the Register of Chartered Security Professionals – the equivalent register for heads of security and other ‘end users’. “I have personally experienced as a chartered security professional heightened respect from industry colleagues, members of other chartered professionals, clients and even the courts,” Gill told Security Buyer.

Gill also mentioned plans for “networking opportunities, workshops, webinars, and possibly career advice related to the CTSP.”

“Think about it: you wouldn’t think of using a gas fitter who wasn’t on the Gas Safe Register.” Paul Tennant, group sales director, Tavcom Training

Speaking to Professional Installer magazine, Tavcom group sales director Paul Tennant contrasts the existing status quo with the situation in the gas fitting trade. “Think about it: you wouldn’t think of using a gas fitter that wasn’t on the Gas Safe Register (formerly CORGI).”

“Security systems which fail due to incorrect installation, or substandard maintenance can result in major consequences for those responsible (for companies and directors), extending to criminal charges, litigation, untold reputational damage.”

He also implies that the rapid evolution of technology is leaving many installers behind. Maintaining CTSP accreditation year after year would reassure customers that they are keeping pace with change, he suggests.

These security systems (including fire detection) have advanced beyond all recognition in the last decade [..] In response to this huge change in the market and in the absence of any meaningful regulation or code of conduct governing installers and maintenance technicians, a professional register has never been more necessary.”


Installers and integrators must demonstrate a minimum of 12 months’ practical experience and a minimum level 3 qualification – such as a BTEC/City & Guilds or equivalent – in one or more technical disciplines in order to gain certification.

Two character references and no criminal convictions for dishonesty, assault or sexual crimes are also prerequisites. Registrants are required to maintain CPD (continual professional development) too.

The CTSP Register, which charges a £50 annual fee to registrants, is now available online.

“I think this is a fantastic idea for the industry and for the individuals,” said Lee Dowling,  at installation firm West London Security.Being able to show your professional skill set to employers and customers themselves will give them much greater confidence in you.

“Having been in the industry for nearly 10 years I have certainly come across some dreadful levels of workmanship which certainly doesn’t match the standards required. Becoming a CTSP will certainly start filtering out the rough from the smooth and start bringing the level of installation work up to where standards should be.”

Said David Wilkinson, BSIA’s director of technical services: “We are very pleased to see this innovative register that recognises many of our security systems members. In such a challenging technical environment, it is more important than ever to demonstrate the professionalism of the personnel that represent our market sector.”

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John Thomson JCL Systems ( CCTV ). Recent comment authors
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John Thomson JCL Systems ( CCTV ).
John Thomson JCL Systems ( CCTV ).

I sent my online application request to CTSP just as they were starting accepting applications, but have not heard a thing since. Is this another scheme that has failed to get off the ground ?
There are loads of Cowboys out there, and some are even installing CCTV Kits that members of the public are being sold by big High Street Electronic Retailers, and they actually recommend them.