A few years ago it was said that anyone could become a bodyguard. People in the industry complained that it was just too easy to become a bodyguard. A joke going around the industry in the early 1990’s was something like, “What are the two requirements to become a close protection officer” The first was to be breathing and the second was to have the course fee! This was true to some extent. While the best companies ran selection courses and weeded out the obvious failures and weak candidates, most training companies took you on for training as long you were breathing and had the cash!
Along came regulation and Licensing and most saw this as an opportunity to clean the industry up and raise the bar. Minimum standards of training would be legislated and the industry would benefit. Is it better now?
There are now over 80 training organisations in the UK alone compared to a handful just a few years ago. The industry is now licensed and legitimised and this has attracted a lot more people to the industry than ever before. However, all of these companies are desperate for students. They will do anything to attract students to their courses. The main attraction for many is often a low price; this might seem to be a good thing from the trainee’s point of view. We all know that competition is healthy and considered good.
However good training costs a lot of money to facilitate and the best instructors need to be paid for. This means that the profit margins are small which ensure many of these companies spend as little on the training as they can and just go through the motions as cheaply as they dare. Some companies just ticking off each hour from 150 minimum. With the SIA reluctant to inspect and monitor the training companies, we are not even sure that some even deliver the minimum. All of the awarding bodies rely on a simple tick test, and if this were not simple enough to pass, the answers to these questions are easily found by asking around!
Initial observations about the Close protection Licensing are that it is not working. It has not only cost individuals and companies a lot of money to implement, but it has also cost the taxpayer who has to prop it up despite the officers and companies paying seriously hefty annual fees to it. Has it raised the bar with regard to close protection? well yes, now you need a clean police record, the cash and must not be short of breath.