In the 1990’s the British Government decided that it would licence the whole of the “security Industry. It took them a long time but it has finally come about. They formed the new Security Industry Authority (SIA) as part of the new Security Industry Act 2001. This was in an era when the UK government of the time was trying to regulate (and tax) as much of any industry that they could.
The regulation bandwagon gathered speed when The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) reported that the security industry had many criminals working within it and said that if everyone in the industry was vetted and licensed then this would make things much better. A very small minority of criminals had bought the whole industry into the spotlight. But were there many at all? At that time there were many criminals and ex-criminals working as bouncers and car clampers and by including these professions in the “security Industry” it did taint the whole industry. In fact the rest of the security industry proper which included over 100,000 security officers and 1000s of close protection officers probably had very few criminals in their ranks. But regulation was going to happen no matter what and it finally started to roll out in 2003.
In the manned guarding industry, licensing was costing the security industry money, every security officer needed a licence that was costing them almost a week’s wages (more tax!) the security companies were told that the industry training qualification that their trainers held needed to be changed and everyone groaned, more expense. But it was not long before the main benefit of licensing started to become apparent. The training that the officers needed was developed to a good standard and the professionalism within the guarding industry began to rise.
3 years later the SIA used the manned guarding model and applied it to close protection officers. They had industry experts develop a training course. When a candidate passes the course and can prove that he or she does not have a criminal record they can then apply for a licence to operate. The course is a minimum of 150 hours guided learning, as well as having qualification in First Aid.
To specify a minimum of 150 hours was commendable but the testing procedure leaves a lot to be desired. Probably with costs and convenience in mind, almost all of the ‘awarding bodies’ have opted for a multiple choice examination with a pass mark of only seventy per cent. This makes it far too easy for the students to pass and does make a mockery of the whole licensing process. If the licence is to be held in any regard it should be earned rather than given away.
Presently after the 150 hours of training you will need to apply for a licence. It will cost you an additional £250 and will need to be renewed every three years. You cannot work without this licence and it may take many months to arrive as the SIA is not well known for its efficiency. You need to have this in mind when the training is finished and you are looking for work.