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Adam Bannister is a contributor to IFSEC Global, having been in the role of Editor from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam also had stints as a journalist at cybersecurity publication, The Daily Swig, and as Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
March 25, 2015

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

Security Training Scandal: The Industry Responds to BBC Exposé

bbc sia exposeThe security industry has responded with horror at the apparent malpractice uncovered at two security training centres by a BBC investigation.

In an episode of BBC London’s Inside Out programme aired on Monday 23 March undercover researchers found some colleges willing to forge or sit exams on behalf of untrained guards for a fee.

This raised the unsettling prospect that thousands of licensed security guards may be working with fraudulent licences having bought qualifications for cash.

Posing as a student an undercover BBC researcher was offered the chance to be “fast-tracked” in his bodyguard training by Ashley Commerce College, in Ilford, east London. During the exam the reporter simply had to write down answers as they were read out by a security trainer.

Now equipped with their fraudulent licence – which they obtained in three hours instead of the 14 days training it should involve – the researcher quickly got a job offer at a power station and an interview at Canary Wharf.

Bogus qualification

Terrorism expert Crispin Black expressed his alarm at the revelations. “Canary Wharf has to be one of the grand [terror] targets,” he told the BBC. “The fact even low-level people would have access there is cause for enormous concern.

“The regulatory system needs to be sharper and more vigorous. It looks very easy to produce bogus qualification.”

Speaking to the BBC Hugo Martin, CEO of bodyguard training firm Hawki said: “If you don’t understand even the law and legislation, you don’t know how to deal with conflict, you could potentially do something that could land you up in jail. You’ve got to be at that skill set where a client has confidence that he’s going to empower you with the security of his life and family.”

The BSIA has reassured buyers of security services that its Training Providers Section can be trusted, with background checks and vetting performed on all members of the association. The section members have also developed their own voluntary code of conduct stipulating stringent standards.

“The BSIA is committed to sustaining high standards in performance and training in the security industry, and totally endorses the stance adopted by the BBC in this programme,” says Anthony Rabbitt, Chairman of the BSIA’s Training Providers Section. “Membership of the BSIA, including in the field of training, requires compliance with a rigorous code of conduct and accreditation with national standards organisations.  Infractions of the BSIA code of conduct would lead to decisive and robust action to remove guilty parties from the Association.”

Keith Vaz MP said the scandal was “one of the most shocking things I’ve seen in all the years I’ve chaired the Home Affairs Select Committee”.

As well as expressing “deep” disappointment “that an IQ centre appears to have been involved in malpractice”, Raymond Clarke, chief executive of the examining board Industry Qualifications, which issued the fraudulently obtained certificates to the BBC,” criticised the BBC for failing to cooperate on their attempts to conduct an internal investigation. “Despite requesting details of the evidence for some four weeks now from the BBC, which would have enabled IQ to conduct its own enquiry, our first viewing of the evidence was on the BBC programme this evening.

“On face value, the evidence would appear to be damning, but we need to move very quickly to confirm the allegations and identify the scale of the problem. IQ has undertaken three external verification visits to Ashley Commerce College in the past twelve months which did not unearth malpractice. We will review our practices in light of the BBC footage and as more details emerge, to determine whether different approaches might have identified the issue at an earlier stage.”

A spokesman for the SIA said: “We take allegations of training malpractice seriously. When the BBC shares the information it is holding on training malpractice, we will take immediate action against the licensed individuals concerned in order to protect public safety.”

Richard Moore, Commercial Director at industry sector skills body, Skills for Security, said: “As the sector skills body for the private security industry, Skills for Security is committed to working with the industry to develop an accredited training provider programme as a response to demand from industry. It is hoped that this will provide additional safeguards against malpractice.”

Fraudulent use of SIA cards carries a maximum jail sentence of six months.

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March 31, 2015 8:09 pm

Good article and a good exposure however it just highlights what many of us have been trying to tell the awarding bodies and SIA for years so good luck with any actual action to rectify the issue when it’s blatently obvious that people with power to do something are making money.

March 31, 2015 8:16 pm

Reminds me of G4S scandals, dropped cos maybe an MP was a silent partner and the CPUK scandal which Lord Prescott failed to pursue, probably because it came to light it was a Labour policy which let the fraudsters in claiming funding and the same loop hole is still there????