The Security Industry Authority (SIA) is responsible for regulating the private security industry in the United Kingdom. On their website, you can see that they have two clear objectives:
We have two main duties. One is the compulsory licensing of individuals undertaking designated activities within the private security industry; the other is to manage the voluntary Approved Contractor Scheme, which measures private security suppliers against independently assessed criteria.
While the goal of the SIA makes sense to some, to others it’s just a load of confusing terminology that can be hard to grasp. As a result, many people don’t seem to understand what you’re actually getting when you’re provided with SIA-licensed officers and supervisors. In fact, some people would argue that there isn’t much of a difference since the SIA was introduced. This has caused many misconceptions with the SIA. So in this article, we’re going to clear up some common SIA misconceptions so that you get a better understanding of it.
Having an SIA guarantees experienced officers and supervisors
Absolutely not true. Before the SIA was even formed, many experienced security specialists would screen potential candidates with their own methods. Some of these processes were even stricter than what the SIA currently has in place. Sadly, many security companies refused to screen their specialists and, as a result, the SIA was formed to prevent untrained operatives from being a part of the security industry.
Unfortunately, the SIA isn’t the end-all of security licenses. In fact, around 58% of all activate SIA license holders in the UK are actually door supervisor licenses, and only 24% are security guards. This means that you could be hiring a licensed security officer that hasn’t had any practical training or experience, and this could compromise the security of your premises.
The SIA course prepares the officer for work
This is not true. The SIA recommends at least 28 contact hours with all of its students, but the course content ignores many practical situations and scenarios. This means that someone fresh out of the course could have absolutely zero knowledge of the job that they’ve been hired to do.
Another caveat (briefly mentioned before) is that students can apply for an SIA approved Door Supervisor course. This actually gives you the ability to work as a licensed security officer despite the obvious differences.
An SIA qualification doesn’t prevent you from hiring a criminal
In the past, you could end up hiring a convicted criminal as your security officer. Nowadays, the SIA screening process prevents this and you need to be placed through a DBS (disclosure and barring service) check. This removes many people who have no business in the security industry due to their past criminal offences.
In the past, it was true that your security officer could be a convicted criminal, but nowadays, the strict checks have prevented this and you can be sure that an SIA-licensed officer is trustworthy and able to handle any security situation.
Hopefully, this article has cleaned up any misconceptions regarding the SIA qualification and what it really means. It was created to prevent untrained individuals claiming they were security specialists, and it has mostly achieved that. However, reputable security companies will still carry out their own screenings, using methods they had in place before the SIA was introduced to ensure top quality across all of their operatives.