Approved Security Companies And Licensure

The Security Industry Authority (SIA)

In the U.K., the Security Industry Authority (SIA) is charged with the responsibility for the regulation of the private security industry. SIA, while it is an independent body, reports back to the Home Secretary. SIA operates under the Private Security Industry Act 2001.

SIA has two main duties, the first of which is the licensing of parties that undertake certain activities within the confines of the U.K. private security industry. This licensing is compulsory. The second main duty is the management of the Approved Contractor Scheme – a voluntary scheme.

Licensing by SIA covers a variety of security sectors including: 

  • Manned guarding (security guarding, transiting of cash and valuables, close protection, door supervision, and the surveillance of public space using CCTV).
  • Vehicle immobilising, restriction and immobilisation.
  • Keyholding.

Licensing is determined by the individual’s role and the activity that they undertake. Section 3 and Schedule 2 of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 provides further information about who needs to be licensed.

SIA licensing ensures that all private security operatives are properly trained and qualified in order to conduct their work.

Do You Need an SIA Licence?

There are a couple of different types of licences provided by SIA: Front line and non-front line.

A front line licence is a requirement if the activity that is undertaken is licensable, besides activities involving key holding. The front line licence issued is a plastic card and is the same size as a credit card. It must be worn though this is subject to and in accordance with the conditions of the licence.

For anyone that manages, supervises, and/or employs individuals that are involved in activities that are licensable, a non-front line licence is a requirement. It is worth noting that a non-front line licence will not cover front line activities.

The non-front line licence is in the form of an issued letter and this issuance also covers activities involving key holding.

Which Licence Do You Need?

If you’re unsure about which licence is required – either front line or non-front line, head over to the SIA Licence Identifier tool for clarification.

Conditions of Licensure

All SIA licences upon being issued are subject to certain criteria. This criterion must always be abided by.

The criteria for front line licence holders are:

  • Whenever engaging in licensable activity, the licence must be worn at all times and it must be visible.
  • Should your licence be lost or stolen, you must inform either SIA and the police.
  • Any cautions, warnings, charges, or convictions whether in the U.K. or elsewhere must be declared to SIA.

Who is Responsible for Getting an SIA Licence?

It is the responsibility of the person that wishes to undertake licensable activity to obtain an SIA licence so that they are able to legally work within the private security industry.

If you choose to work without a licence you will be in breach of the law. Additionally, if an employer utilises unlicensed staff, they, too, will be in breach of the law.

Nevertheless, it is not the responsibility of your employer to get your licence for you. Rather, it is your employer’s responsibility to ensure that all security staff employed have the appropriate licence for the role being performed.

Bear in mind that because the SIA licence processing fee is non-refundable (for a three-year licence, the application fee is £210) you should check to ensure that you meet the licensing application criteria.

How Much Does an SIA Licence Cost?

For a three-year SIA licence, the application fee is £210. For a front line vehicle immobiliser licence, the fee for a single-year licence is £210.

For those that require more than one licence, the second SIA licence comes with a 50% discount.

The Benefits of SIA Licensing

Overall, most people feel that SIA licensing has had a beneficial impact on the U.K. security industry.

Furthermore, SIA licensing has raised the standards in what is now a regulated and far more respected industry than at any time previously.

Licensing has worked in removing and refusing unsuitable individuals from gaining work in the industry. It has provided an avenue for those that wish to work in the security sector to be properly trained, appropriately qualified, and “fit and proper” to undertake a role within the private security industry.

In turn, the licensing system and the regulatory work carried out by SIA has had a particularly constructive impact on public perception. It, the licensing system, has altered people’s opinions with regard to the security industry in the U.K. for the better while also challenging stereotypes.

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