Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

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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.
August 4, 2017

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Investigation into unlicensed festival stewards should prompt rethink of security licensing, says industry executive

Photo: William Starkey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The licensing regime for security businesses should be beefed up, according to the managing director of a leading security services provider.

Following news that a security firm is under investigation for allegedly supplying cloned badges to unlicensed stewards at UK festivals this summer, Abbey Petkar of Magenta Security has suggested that business licenses be introduced.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has launched an investigation into LS Armour Security Ltd of Barry, south Wales, following a compliance check.

The SIA took “unprecedented action due to public safety” after an inspection led to two arrests and the seizure of business records.

The SIA has also written to event organisers that have previously used the firm or have future bookings with them.

“It is obvious rogue traders, whether individuals or organisations, are still blighting the industry and more needs to be done,” said Petkar, whose firm is carbon neutral and rated among the UK’s top 5% of private security companies by SIA-ACS. “Too many times I have witnessed customers realise they have made a costly mistake by working with these companies.

“Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell the legitimate providers of professional security services from the rogue operators. And that’s why I think it is essential that further regulation is required, in the form of business licences.

Licensed at firm-level

“Tougher regulation would ensure that all legitimate security service providers are licensed at a firm-level in addition to the individual officers. Not only would it benefit professional security companies, but ultimately the safety of our clients.

“With such a large amount of people operating in an industry, it is necessary to improve regulation to maintain the legitimacy, standards and the reputation of firms and individuals that provide a quality service.”

He argues that the Approved Contractor Scheme, which is currently voluntary, should be made mandatory – especially given limited parliamentary time to consider fresh legislation with Whitehall consumed by Brexit.

“Legislative time to discuss business licences will not be available,” continues Petkar. “However, if the current ACS framework was used and became compulsory, it would allow security companies to become accredited and offer a platform on which people can be assured that they are dealing with reputable organisations, and I believe this is something which should be considered as a viable alternative until such a time business licences can be introduced.”

An SIA spokesman said in a statement: “This type of unlawful conduct remains rare due to responsible organisers and security providers conducting appropriate due diligence.

“Nevertheless, the SIA understands that at this time of year, event organisers and primary contractors may not have sufficient SIA-licensed staff, which can lead to extensive sub-contracting.

“This provides opportunities to rogue providers that, with appropriate checks by organisers and primary contractors, can be largely mitigated.”

The letter to other organisers, written by the SIA’s deputy director, said: “If SIA-licensed staff arrive on site and are unknown to you, you must take all reasonable steps to ensure the person named on and in possession of the licence are the same person by requiring them to provide further evidence of identity.

“This will mitigate the risk of the cloned licence.”

Responding to the allegations, LS Armour Security Ltd’s director Erica Lloyd told the BBC: “As a company we have only been made aware of one arrest as a result of a cloned badge, and this individual was cautioned by police and subsequently released without charge.

“At this point this individual was contacted by LS Armour and told he would no longer be employed for any future events.”

She said that the SIA’s system to verify licenses – the Register of Licence Holders – was “simplistic” and “inadequate”.

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Mike Inman
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The use of unlicensed staff with Security blazoned over their back and / or chest has been happening at Glastonbury for a few years at least