August 18, 2016

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Security accreditation raises standards – so why are my NSI credentials never checked?

NSI goldShould security installers and integrators be accredited?

The answer to this question at first glance seems fairly simple, but I thought I’d see if I could find any overlooked nuances.

I’ve wracked my brains to think of disadvantages to accreditation – either for the individual or the company – but I  can find none. I’ve asked around, searched on the internet, spoken to colleagues, posted on LinkedIn and asked other security professionals. No luck.

So there it is: accreditation is a no-brainer. Of course, done properly, it is a good idea. Well, I could stop there but that wouldn’t be much of an article – so…

Perhaps the more pertinent question is: why is this even a question? Let’s be clear about the benefits of accreditation first:

  • It provides a set of common standards and training to meet those standards as well as a process by which substandard work can be brought up to spec
  • It should improve quality overall as there are consequences to substandard work
  • It gives accredited organisations the edge
  • Customers have peace of mind and protection from substandard work
  • It builds trust
  • It helps to weed out incompetent businesses
  • It may reduce liability insurance costs, a bit like an advanced driving test

For accreditation to be accepted you need:

  • A body which can provide and ‘police’ the accreditation
  • A set of standards that are appropriate and desirable
  • And visibility – for both the industry and its customers – that such accreditation exists and has value

Accreditation body

Let’s start with the first point. In the UK, this is the NSI (National Security Inspectorate). They have been in existence for more than 40 years and are still going strong.

Standards

The NSI has developed a set of standards and two levels of accreditation, ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’. Developed over 40 years they provide an excellent platform of training, accreditation and ongoing verification to ensure your standards are up to scratch.

Visibility

Accreditation is common enough in many industries – indeed, compulsory in some – so why in the security/access control industry is there so little take-up and so little awareness?

The NSI needs to be much more proactive in marketing itself to the industry to raise awareness and extol the virtues and benefits of accreditation.

There are thousands of small and medium-sized firms specialising in access control and other security tech, but a fairly small percentage have such accreditation (NSI has about 1,800 members to cover the whole, extended security sector).

Many of these companies are small one-man bands for whom the cost of accreditation may well be too onerous to warrant the additional outlay. Companies, big and small, aren’t going to shell out hard-earned cash if there is no incentive to do so.

Providing more visibility of the NSI accreditation is a multi-pronged approach. The NSI needs to be much more proactive in marketing itself to the industry to raise awareness and extol the virtues and benefits of accreditation.

Awareness also needs to be raised among consumers of security products and services and what benefits it offers, so that it becomes a key question when putting out tenders for projects. The next step would then be to make accreditation with the NSI a key criteria in tendering – for example for government work, which could then gradually filter out to other private industries and types of work.

NICEIC

Ultimately, there is no reason why our industry could not have something like NICEIC, the regulatory body for the electrical contracting industry that requires electricians to have accreditation for installing all but the most basic security systems.

As a systems integrator we have never been asked for accreditation and I would hazard a guess that most of our customers have never heard of the NSI. We regularly come across substandard work where we have to pick up the pieces.

As an industry it is in all our interests (and to our customers’ benefit) that accreditation becomes the norm rather than the exception and that NSI accreditation becomes as well known as NICEIC.

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Cristian
Cristian
May 21, 2019 10:55 pm

Do you have any information on accreditation costs?