A few months ago, my partner’s laptop was stolen right outside her house. The laptop contained all of our company information. When she called me, I chased the culprits but was unable to catch up with them. While on the chase I called the Police, as usual, they came about an hour later. Even though we lost the data on the computer, it was not as disastrous as it happened on a Sunday and we had backed up the laptop on Friday. That was the beauty of the approved contractor scheme, when it works it can be magnificent. If we had not gone through the approved contractor process, the idea of backing up the data would not have occurred to us.
In June I went to work for a security company in Wigan during the Wigan festival. We were told that we were going to be paid a week after completing the work, we did not get paid until September. I even took legal action against the company and the Wigan Council before they decided to pay me and the rest of the other workers. This company is an SIA approved company. Even though this company is SIA approved, it is still engaged in the old habit of rough security companies. This is to say the being an approved contractor has not changed this company and many of its kinds.
The above two stories highlight the workings of the Security Industry Authority (SIA) since its establishment. The SIA was given the mandate to license security officers to weed out criminal elements and professionalize the industry. On those two counts it has failed to deliver. All it succeeded in doing was removing impunity. Many security companies are still run by the same people who were running them before the inception of the SIA. As for professionalization, no one within the industry has managed to come up with a coincide definition of what that means. The training regime is a joke and service to the end user has not improved as a result of the SIA.
When a leaked Home Office document intimated that it was planning to axe the SIA, there was a chorus of hurrah from some quarters, while those with vested interest in the status quo were kicking and screaming at the Home Secretary, accusing her of attempting to throw the security industry 10 years back.
The problem with the SIA is that from its inception, it has never had any form of concurrent vision of its mission and future. In its current structure, the SIA is serving no one, it is just an unnecessary expense on struggling security officers and a drain on security companies.
Axing the SIA would not be the right course of action at this point. The right approach would be to analyze the current role of the SIA and what the objectives are supposed to be. Once a proper analysis is done, then the SIA can be presented with new objectives, roles and responsibilities that would bring positive value to the industry. To scrap it completely, with no body to put any type of regulation and monitor the security industry, might make the situation even worse than what is being experienced at the moment.
The SIA is a problem child, but we do not want to throw it away with the bath water.