Insight Certification (the parent organisation of the National Security Inspectorate) was one of eight assessing bodies appointed in August 2005 to carry out assessments for the Approved Contractor Scheme. Accordingly there has been regular and frequent contact between the SIA personnel responsible for the ACS and NSI personnel at all levels.
The SIA require that all applicants provide a complete five year address history preceding their application. If at any time during the past five years any applicant was abroad for six continuous months or more, they are required to provide an overseas criminality certificate (OCC) from the official competent issuing authority of the country concerned. This policy is uniform in its application and applies to all applicants irrespective of the country concerned.
[holding answer 18 May 2006]: The SIA do not calculate the mean or modal period processing times for applications. Some, such as those involving overseas criminal records checks, unavoidably take a considerable time. The SIA have a published target of processing 80 per cent. of all applications within six weeks, measured from the date that a properly completed application enters the processing system to the date that a licence is issued. From April 2004 until August 2005 the SIA processed 62 per cent. within six weeks and 88 per cent. within nine weeks. Since September 2005, there has been a backlog of applications that have been waiting to enter the system. These have added an additional time of between two and four weeks to the process, so it is now taking up to 10 weeks to process most applications.
On average, the SIA call centre handles approximately 1,000 calls a day. During March 2006, average call volumes were four times higher than normal, reaching a peak of 8,000 calls on 20 March 2006. This high level of demand resulted from a late influx of cases.
To address this high demand, the SIA have increased the number of phone lines, hired more operators, and made their website more user-friendly. For example, the SIA are going to put onto their website an online tracker facility enabling applicants to check the progress of their application and to inform them of the date when they are likely to receive their licence.
There are no figures available of the number of personnel working at UK sea ports and harbours who are required to hold a SIA licence, although the Department for Transport (DfT) estimates the number to be relatively small.
To avoid double licensing, security personnel at UK airports have been exempted from SIA licensing where they are already subject to the DfT’s directed personnel security and training regimes. This applies to all contracted security staff working airside at passenger terminals.