Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
October 4, 2023


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Security guarding

BBC investigation uncovers “sham training courses” for door supervisors

An undercover investigation from BBC Radio 4 programme ‘File on 4’ has found door supervisors obtaining fraudulent work licences after attending “sham training courses”.

12 companies offering Level 2 SIA door supervisor courses for between £200-300 were approached.

The journalist was offered shortened courses by four of these firms – against the SIA regulations which require courses to be a minimum of six days.

One of the six-day courses attended by the undercover reporter was allowed to be completed in just a day and a half with an additional fee. First-aid training, conflict management and door supervision sessions were said to be bypassed as part of this.

Another asked the reported to fill in timesheets for all six days and was given answers to multiple-choice questions for tests.

Completion of the six-day training course allows people to apply for an SIA licence, subject to record checks, which allows them to work in venues across the UK. Licences must be renewed every three years with a two-day top up course.

The SIA, the regulatory body governing the private security industry in the UK, says it is working with the organisations which oversee the training companies and is further investigating the BBC’s findings.

Though it does not regulate training providers, the SIA aims to ensure that licensed security operatives are properly trained and qualified to carry out their job, with licensing covering areas such as manned guarding, key holding and vehicle immobilising, CCTV operation, door supervision and more.

The Manchester Arena inquiry revealed several failings from security staff, and highlighted that they could have made a “decisive difference” to the incident if they had been properly trained.

Paul Greaney KC, legal counsel to the inquiry, told the BBC that he remained “extremely concerned about the safety of the public attending events”.

Read the full story from the BBC, here.

Investigation launched by the SIA – “Behaviours both shocking and disappointing” 

The Security Industry Authority responded to the investigation on 3 October. In its response, it said it had launched a full investigation into the findings and will work with Ofqal, the qualifications regulator in England to further examine the issues.

The SIA also confirmed it had suspended the licence of one of the individuals featured in the documentary, referring the footage to the Met Police. Meanwhile, Ofqal confirmed it had “suspended pending further investigation” the training providers featured.

SIA licences will be suspended if found to have been based on qualifications awarded by the training providers in question.

The statement highlighted that while it does not “regulate qualifications and has no powers regarding training delivery”, it is “absolutely committed to protecting the public and raising standards across the private security industry”.

The SIA added: “We conduct our own unannounced visits to training providers – 200 of them since 2022. This has led to 3 providers being shut down. We will continue with these unannounced visits.

“Good training providers are happy to see the SIA and welcome the action we are taking to ensure those not following the rules are rooted out. If there are faults found, they are referred to the relevant awarding organisations.

“We will continue to work with the qualifications regulators and awarding organisations across the UK to ensure all allegations of training malpractice are investigated.

“We also will consider using our own prosecution powers in appropriate circumstances. We are determined to ensure poor practices are rooted out and support the majority who operate to good standards.

The full statement can be found on the SIA’s website. 

“Imperative that a large-scale audit is now performed”

Pete Dalton, Security Advisor for event planning software company, OnePlan, told IFSEC Insider these findings were a major concern, with a full audit required by the SIA:

“Competent and confident security guards are essential in delivering safety, security and service within the event security industry. The reports today raise serious concerns that require urgent review. The SIA must now fully investigate the reported course providers, review their governance, accreditation and management systems – and, if found to be negligent, sanction them as necessary.

“With 170k licences approved per year, I think it’s imperative that a large-scale audit is now performed to identify every SIA licensed professional who has had their licence approved following a course at each of the providers.

“Where a lack of clarity on training attendance and licensing is highlighted, these security officers should then be made to undertake the mandatory six-day course as soon as feasible.

“Anything less risks allowing inadequately trained professionals to operate in the security profession which, at minimum, risks event-goer safety and, at worst, could lead to a serious security incident.

“Recent terrorist attacks within the UK and major security breaches at our stadiums, events and venues highlight the need for a professional training syllabus that develops staff, key to this is the ability to transfer these skills to operational delivery. It is imperative that serious breaches such as those reported do not impact upon confidence in delivery.”


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James Hendry
James Hendry
October 7, 2023 1:32 pm

Given the chance of being beaten up in the current crime wave and court backlog. Add licence fees and low pay you are lucky anyone applies for the course. Google at least brings up many IFSEC articles so you are well aware of the reasons. Why not become a “qualified” plumber for the same money? It’s only a two-week course.