Government

SIA minutes

by Mark Rowe

Fees for applying for a Security Industry Authority licence, and for the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) should remain the same this year, the SIA decided at its July 25 board meeting, held remotely, whose minutes have been released this month.

The meeting heard three options: to maintain the statutory licence fee at £204 (payable at £184 because of a licence fee rebate applied); to reduce to statutory licence fee to £194 (which would result in a £4.4m deficit for the regulator); or to increase the statutory licence fee to £214 (which would result in a surplus of £4.5m). The Executive Director of Corporate Services Natalie Benton confirmed that the executive recommended option one – that the SIA licensing fee should remain the same this year.

The regulator’s IT such as a ‘Digital Services Contract’ loomed large in the meeting. A three-year, £7.2m contract was agreed. A procurement route has been agreed for a ICT managed service contract which includes a project including a ‘chatbox functionality’. Like much of UK Government, the SIA runs on Microsoft (the board meeting was held remotely, on Microsoft Teams). The prospects of those seeking the services of the SIA to do so more digitally and smoothly depends on UK Government-wide programmes such as One Login and Digital ID.

Like other parts of the public sector, the SIA has gone over to hybrid working, meaning that the Canary Wharf head office it rents in east London isn’t as occupied as it was pre-covid. That does have a financial consequence, as the meeting heard. The SIA faces a ‘potential financial increase in spend against budget’ given recent news one of the prospective tenants had dropped out. If further tenants in their place are not secured for 10 South Colonnade, the financial shortfall as a result would be £206,000 this year, the board heard.

The minutes show an interesting sidelight on the difficulties in the public sector generally, recruiting. The SIA was ‘recently unsuccessful in filling the vacant Digital Transformation Lead role’. as raised as a concern by a one of the non-execs on the board. The Executive Director of Transformation, Dianne Tranmer, ‘stated that this was not the only role that the SIA is having difficulty in recruiting to due to the uncompetitive salary on offer: five candidates were interviewed – two offers were made for the role which were rejected due to salary and offers of other roles paying more money’.

The meeting covered licensing decisions around sexual offences, after former police chief constable Simon Bailey’s recommendations in his Independent Review of the Disclosure and Barring Regime. To recap from the spring, door staff would have to go through an enhanced check with barred list check, more of a check (and costing more) than the standard DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check they have to go through to apply for or renew their SIA licence. The board heard that a meeting was to be held in September with the Home Office Public Protection Unit to discuss ‘next steps’, on the ‘operational and financial impact of the enhanced checks’. Namely, that the Bailey review means that door staff would stand to pay more for their licence.

As aired at the SIA’s conference in London in September and featured in the November print edition of Professional Security Magazine, the meeting covered a new ‘business approval scheme’, as a refresh of the approved contractor scheme. Again, as aired at the conference, the SIA has added to its inspection and overall staff and the minutes mention the ‘uplift in staff coverage across the UK’. The SIA had approval for Professionalising Investigations Programme (PIP) courses in house to begin in September allowing the regulator ‘to provide a higher quality service’. The SIA has been trialling shared legal services used by fellow regulator the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA).

The board was due to meet next on November 2.

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