As this year’s political party conference season draws to a close, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has reflected on a number of successful discussions with MPs, Think Tanks and Police and Crime Commissioners which saw the issues of police reform, regulatory change and the CCTV Code of Practice at the forefront of the agenda.
Attending both the Conservative and Labour Party Conferences, the BSIA’s CEO James Kelly led the way in championing the views of Association members, raising awareness among Parliamentarians of the issues and challenges currently facing the UK’s private security industry.
At the forefront of these discussions was the transition to a new regulatory regime, and in particular the urgent need for clarity from the Government on the timings and costs involved.
Primary legislation: the essential next step
“Primary legislation is an essential next step in the transition to a new regulatory regime, effecting the change in status of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), the introduction of new enforcement powers and the transfer of responsibility for the industry’s quality hallmark – currently the Approved Contractor Scheme – to industry,” explained Kelly.
“Perhaps the most important of these changes is the granting of new civil enforcement powers to the Security Industry Authority (SIA), which would give the organisation the power to issue penalty fines or take legal action against companies breaching the terms of their licence.”
Kelly continued: “Recently, there has been talk of a ‘half-way house’, by which the introduction of business licencing would be effected through secondary legislation without granting civil enforcement powers to the SIA. It’s our view that this compromise could potentially threaten the current standards of professionalism within our industry, as it increases the risk of lower-level and semi-serious breaches going unpunished, in turn increasing the risk to customers and the public.”
The BSIA’s leader added: “Despite the necessity of primary legislation, the failure of Government to identify a suitable legislative vehicle by which to enact these changes is placing the original implementation target of 2014 in real jeopardy.”
Support for the BSIA’s cause
Support for the BSIA’s cause was pledged from both Labour and Conservative politicians, as well as a number of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), many of whom depend upon private security companies to provide back office support to forces and help police officers return to front-line duty.
Hosting a networking dinner at the Conservative Party Conference with keynote speaker Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office), the BSIA was able to explore this issue in more detail with PCCs, MPs and local council leaders.
“The standards set and maintained by industry regulation and licensing are key to the ability of police forces across the UK to place their trust in private security suppliers,” urged Kelly. “It’s essential that the future regulatory regime continues to provide this element of reassurance.”
The BSIA’s political engagement programme is set to continue into 2014 as the Association seeks to build upon the progress made at the party conferences.
“With the 2015 General Election fast approaching, it’s important that the BSIA continues to engage with the entire political spectrum and ensures that our industry is fully represented throughout this period of transition and change,” concluded Kelly.
“The BSIA is proud of its role as the voice of the UK’s private security industry, and we’re looking forward to building upon our success at conference to actively represent our members’ needs.”