Background: Due primarily to the absence of regulation and governance, the UK private security industry had become diseased with an element of unqualified, poorly equipped ‘contractors’, supplying customers whose sole purchasing consideration was cost. It was not surprising therefor that the outcome of many criminal investigations concluded “it was an inside job”.

The Industry Today
: In 2001 HM Government passed the Private Security Industry Act 2001. The purpose was to disinfect the private security industry by introducing enforceable regulation, to drive out unscrupulous and criminal suppliers. As investigations are unfolding and prosecutions resulting, other criminal offences and ‘black economy’ activities are simultaneously being discovered – benefit fraud and tax evasion, as typical examples.

The Act established the need for an independent security industry regulator, to take responsibility for enforcement, also for setting and maintaining industry standards. Reporting to the Home Secretary, the SIA (Security Industry Authority) was created in 2003.

The purpose of these far reaching measures is to eliminate a small criminal element from opting in and out of the industry, as has been the case, leaving in its wake a trail of bad press, mistrust and indifference.

Buyer Beware – buyers and consumers are learning, often to their peril, it is unwise to contract the ‘services’ of such suppliers, who simply cannot deliver a credible/legitimate service.

The Events Industry – do I need to employ SIA licensed security staff at my event?

The events industry has wrestled with itself over the SIA licensing issue. As an aid to event organisers in the recruitment/outsourcing of events staff, the following legal extracts should clarify any doubts.

Individuals undertaking manned guarding activity, irrespective of job titles or clothing, must have (and display) a valid SIA licence. The law defines ‘manned guarding activity’ as follows:

guarding premises against unauthorised access or occupation, against outbreaks of disorder or against damage
guarding property against destruction or damage, against being stolen or against being otherwise dishonestly taken or obtained
guarding one or more individuals against assault or against injuries that might be suffered in consequence of the unlawful conduct of others.
If the licensable activity undertaken is in relation to licensed premises, a door supervisor licence is required. “In relation to licensed premises” means when those premises are open to the public, at times when alcohol is being supplied for consumption, or regulated entertainment is being provided on the premises.
The licensing authority may choose to license a complete event, stadium or venue. This would require all those undertaking licensable manned guarding activities to be licensed as door supervisors, unless exempted in connection with a certified sports ground or stand.

Enforcement & Penalties

For those working in a licensable security role without an SIA licence or supplying unlicensed security staff, the penalties are currently as follows:

summary conviction at a Magistrate’s Court, Sheriff Trial or District Court: a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000
trial on indictment at Crown Court, High Court of Justiciary or Sheriff and jury trial: an unlimited fine and/or up to five years imprisonment.
Interested parties should seek their own independent legal advice on this matter if they are concerned about their individual liabilities.