Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
September 20, 2019

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Returning to the workplace: How access control plays a vital role in a safe and secure return strategy

manned guarding

“Political landscape” is making SIA business licences “unfeasible”

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) is redoubling efforts to educate buyers of security services on avoiding rogue operators in the absence of progress on business licensing.

Last year the SIA agreed that all businesses offering security services should be subject to mandatory business licensing.

However, a year on Abbey Petkar, MD and founder of security services firm Magenta Security, expressed his frustration at the lack of progress towards achieving that goal in a meeting with SIA chief executive Ian Todd and Tony Holyland, SIA head of quality & standards, at Magenta HQ.

“It was obvious from the outset that Ian understood the issues the security industry faces and that Ian and Tony want to do more for the industry,” said Petkar. “Ian is keen to push through changes that would enhance the whole of the security market. However, he needs to convince the Home Office that the changes are needed – and more importantly wanted by stakeholders across the whole of the security sector.

“They will continue to lobby the Home Office as and when appropriate.” Abbey Petkar, MD, Magenta Security

“In response to the objections I have raised over the SIA’s handling of business licensing they made it clear that it is still something they wish to explore and achieve – but the political landscape means it is currently unfeasible. However, they will continue to lobby the Home Office as and when appropriate.”

However, he praised the SIA for its efforts in educating buyers of security services on how to avoid cowboy operators.

“Though they are struggling in terms of business licences, the SIA is focusing instead on the end clients, educating them on the types of security companies they should consider using to ensure they avoid cowboy firms with poor standards across a number of areas.”

Petkar has published a white paper on this topic – Managing Your Security – which offers businesses advice on choosing a reputable security provider.

Petkar also believes the Approved Contractor Scheme suffers from a lack of take-up. Eighty percent of eligible firms – representing about 40% of SIA licence holders – are yet to join the voluntary scheme.

Unscrupulous operators

Unscrupulous operators in the security sector continue to be a problem.

On 2 September a door supervisor was fined at North Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court after he was caught working at Moorville Hall Hotel in Staffordshire, despite his licence having been revoked by the SIA.

Kevin Warburton, 50, of Stoke, was fined £200, ordered to pay £300 costs and a victim surcharge of £30 after pleading guilty to working in a licensable security operative role while unlicensed.

“The SIA robustly regulates the security industry, and will seek to prosecute those who chose to ignore the legislation in place,” said Pete Easterbrook of the SIA’s criminal investigation team. “Kevin Warburton was not licensed to work as a door supervisor, and yet he used his revoked SIA licence on a number of occasions.

“He deceived the company who employed him, and customers at the venue, by pretending that he was properly licensed. Security regulation exists in order to protect those who use contracted security services, not to mention the general public. Unlicensed security staff are not only illegal; they are unregulated, unsafe, and a potential risk to the public.”

District Judge Grego, sitting in Newcastle-under-Lyme, said Warburton had avoided a prison sentence through a combination of his guilty plea, previous good character and the mitigation offered by his defence.

Petkar’s conversation with the senior SIA visitors also covered the merits of paying guards a decent living wage in combating modern-day slavery and raising customer service standards.

Sustainability

Magenta Security has been proactive in another topic of discussion, sustainability, having been the first manned guarding company in Europe to be awarded ISO 14001:2004. The firm has, among other things, installed solar panels and achieved a paperless office.

Tony Holyland has accepted Petkar’s invitation to the next SBN (Small Business Network) meeting. Said Petkar: “The meeting provides a real foundation for future dialog and commitment to positive change.  The SIA has a lot of work to do.  However, under the leadership of Ian Todd I am convinced that the outlook for the future of the industry is in safe hands.”

Hounslow-based Magenta Security, which also has offices in operations in Swindon, Birmingham, Manchester and Kent, claims a client retention rate of 97% and blue-chip clients across the UK and Northern Europe, from the retail, healthcare and commercial sectors.

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