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Security Industry Authority

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 4 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his written statement of 16 February 2006, on the Private Security Industry Approved Contractor Scheme, what assessment he has made of whether companies should achieve membership of the scheme under Option 3 if they (a) meet standards that do not correspond directly and exactly to the 89 indicators of the Option 4 scheme as set out by the Security Industry Authority and (b) cover different criteria in more depth. (59021)

To provide assurance that all approved contractors have achieved the necessary standards all of the 89 requirements must be met. An approved contractor cannot compensate for failure to meet some requirements by excelling in others—this would lead to uncertainty over what approval means and could undermine the credibility of the scheme.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether employers in the security industry will be able to (a) employ staff and (b) use contractors who have applied for a licence to the Security Industry Authority but who have not yet received a licence. (62265)

The Private Security Industry Act 2001 imposes sanctions on those who undertake defined security activities without a licence from the SIA and those who supply unlicensed security operatives undertaking those activities. Companies that hire security firms whose personnel include unlicensed staff are not committing any offence, since the Private Security Industry Act 2001 places the onus on the individual and the company that provides security services, not on the customer. Where in-house employees are required to be licensed, the employer and individual are both responsible for ensuring this occurs.

Companies that have been awarded approved contractor status by the SIA are able to legally deploy a proportion of security staff while their licence applications are being processed.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are employed by the Security Industry Authority to process licence applications; and what training they are given. (77003)

[holding answer 19 June 2006]: The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has contracted BT Syntegra as its Managed Service Provider (MSP) to process all aspects of licence applications, with the exception of the final licensing decision. BT Syntegra has employed and extensively trained 152 full-time employees to carry out this task.

To increase processing capacity during this period of high demand, the SIA has supplemented the MSP staffing levels with a temporary in-house processing centre employing an additional 12 security cleared temporary staff who work directly to the SIA. These temporary staff members are supervised at all times and are only utilised to initially check accurate completion of application forms and identification documents. They received comprehensive induction training prior to deployment, and are issued with training notes and guidance templates. Following induction they shadow experienced permanent employees for a minimum of one week, and are subject to daily coaching and supervision. Also daily training sessions provide extra guidance on application/document checks.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had on the potential dismissal of workers in the private security industry on 20 March 2006 due to licences not being issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) by that date; and what steps he has taken to prevent such an occurrence. (60529)

[holding answer 21 March 2006]: I took on ministerial responsibility for the SIA on 4 May. My predecessor Paul Goggins met with the SIA on a number of occasions to discuss the impact of the implementation date of 20 March 2006. The SIA put in place a system 14 months before the 20 March 2006 to manage the transition to licensing. This date was agreed after consultation with the industry, who had undertaken to submit their applications in good time. While some did submit their applications in good time, other parts of the industry failed to do so. The SIA wants all of the security industry to be compliant with the law as soon as possible and has taken additional steps to speed up the processing of licence applications. These include temporarily doubling the capacity of the SIA's licensing system and working closely with companies to reduce applicant error rates. Enforcement action is a matter for the SIA and the police. ACPO and the SIA have issued joint Enforcement Guidelines in which they stated they intend to take a measured and proportionate approach to enforcement.