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Steward Warning

by msecadm4921

The BSIA could go to law if football stewards get exemption from the Private Security Industry Act 2001, a Reliance Security seminar heard. More in the June print magazine.

This warning was given at a recent conference on the Private Security Industry Act 2001 looking into the impact of regulation. Held at Pride Park Football Stadium, Derby, it was one of 30 events being organised by Reliance Security Services to promote a greater understanding of the implications of the Act amongst businesses, retailers, the public sector and the private security industry.

Opening the speeches, David Dickinson the Chief Executive of the British Security Industry Association, warned of rumours that the football industry is seeking to get exemption from the Act. "The Act provides for such exemption where the standards are equal or better than those which the SIA propose. The licensed sector needs to be sure that such exemptions are truly equal."

He warned the conference, "If we believe that, at any time, political expediency has overridden the public interest on which the Act is founded, we shall not hesitate to seek a judicial review." He also raised ‘serious concerns’ about the ability of the SIA to apply sanctions in the case of exempted schemes and said that the BSIA would seek assurances from ministers after the May 5 general election.

(However, as reported in the April edition of Professional Security, Terry Wise, a founder of the UK Crowd Management Association, argues that football event stewards are carrying out safety and customer care tasks and do not need SIA licences. To be brief, Terry, whose Goldrange event security company was sold to Reliance in 2001, argues that event security has been ‘glued on’ to manned guarding rather than considered in its own right. There is also the practical side: event stewarding is largely done by students and other part-timers otherwise unconnected with private security, as a second job. Some figures in the stewarding sector wonder if there will be enough ‘badged’ staff to go around.)

Sir Geoffrey Dear QPM DL, Director of Reliance Security Services said that the security industry has taken a major step forward from the days when a security organisation could get away with being "one man and a dog". "Over the last few years there has been a growing interest in the reputation of the security industry, if you go back more than 30 years, the security industry was then totally different to the way it is now. Today there is much greater professionalism, particularly in the larger "blue chip" companies in the sector."

Sir Geoffrey explained how much these companies have welcomed the introduction of regulation in the sector, in order to drive out some of the cowboy elements.

David Donnelly who is the Project Director of Regulation at Reliance Security Services warned that businesses need to engage with their security suppliers as a matter of some urgency about the implications of the Act on their business. "Some 300 to 500,000 people work in the security industry, 130,000 in the manned security sector alone. Securing their licences from the Security Industry Authority (SIA) in time for the March 2006 deadline means that companies should be ensuring that those licences are starting to be applied for now."

Mr Donnelly described some of the delays that are being experienced for individuals applying for licences. Whilst the estimated time is currently four weeks, Reliance are discovering that the process is currently taking 14 to 16 weeks. "I spoke only yesterday to someone who has applied for a door supervisor’s licence who had been waiting for 22 weeks."

"If your security suppliers are not talking about the implications to you of the Act, in terms of cost and contract changes then this will become a serious issue" concluded Mr Donnelly.

Concluding the event, Alan Goodwin the Deputy Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary talked about the reduction in overall crime in Derby but highlighted the serious problem of people’s perception that crime is going up. He described how there were now opportunities for the police service to work in partnership with the private security industry as part of the "wider policing family" to help deliver reassurance to the public, particularly in shopping centres and other social and leisure settings. The Deputy Chief Constable stressed the importance of regulation in the context of the Police Service working in partnership with the private security industry. "The public have a right to expect a high quality of service and therefore I see regulation as a springboard to driving up the standard of private security services delivered in the public domain."

Mr Goodwin ended by laying down a challenge to the private security sector. "Are you fit for purpose for delivering public services?"

For dates of all Reliance seminars around the UK:

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