SIA concerns following BBC investigation

Written 10th October 2023 by Gareth Martin

A recent BBC investigation has exposed how a number of unscrupulous training providers have allowed people to fraudulently obtain licences to become security guards meaning they can then go on to work at events where one of their primary roles is to safeguard members of the public.

Security Industry Authority (SIA)

An undercover reporter was able to pay extra money in order to complete a mandatory six-day course in as little as a day and a half which meant that he did not undertake vital first-aid training. In other instances of flagrant disregard to the standards expected by the industry regulator, the Security Industry Authority (SIA), a reporter was offered a three-day course but told to complete timesheets for the mandatory six-day course. There were also instances of full classes of people being given the answers to multiple choice questions. Although missing out on modules including first aid, conflict management and door supervision, the reporter did, on the other hand, experience sessions which although intended to teach people how to safely move or restrain someone, turned into lessons describing painful way to “kill and be killed”. This is not the first time that the industry has been hit by allegations of malpractice; a 2015 investigation found that there were likely to be thousands of people working illegally in the sector with a number of colleges and training providers willing to sit or forge exams for a fee. The SIA has said that an investigation has been launched into the findings of the most recent BBC undercover operation. They have also said that they will be working closely with the qualifications regulator and awarding institutions but pointed out that they do not regulate qualifications and as such have no powers over the delivery of training. They did, however, state that in the event of qualifications being deemed unsound or being withdrawn, licences will be suspended.

A risk to the public

The risks associated with unqualified and unsuitable people being granted licences are obvious. A lack of basic training will inevitably put members of the public at increased risk and will also likely result in less professional and potentially criminal elements working their way into the system, for their own gain and purposes. For example, there have been reports from dozens of whistle-blowers that staff at the O2 Brixton Academy regularly took bribes to let people in despite not having tickets. The Academy was the scene of a crushing incident in December 2022 in which two people died. That incident is subject of an ongoing investigation. A lack of proper first-aid training was also highlighted as an issue which needed to be addressed during the public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing which killed 22 people. Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett who died in the arena attack, has spear-headed a campaign to introduce legislation which will ensure stronger protections against terrorist attacks. These latest findings which raise justified concerns through the exposure of significant failings within an industry which will be integral to the successful introduction and implementation of Martyn’s Law, cannot be overlooked. They also perhaps reinforce the fact that the Government ought to act sooner to address the issues raised by the Home Affairs Select Committee in its report published on 27 July 2023 as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process; until that is done, the draft legislation and the safeguards it seeks to introduce remain in limbo. As the SIA quite rightly pointed out in their response to the BBC investigation, there are many reputable training providers who are committed to ensuring the highest standards within the industry and thereby protecting the public. Those providers are not averse to scrutiny including unannounced visits that the SIA conduct throughout the year and they will work hard to address any concerns raised. The rogue individuals and organisations also present a risk to genuine providers and applicants alike as they could find themselves caught up and dragged into investigations and proceedings which could have far reaching consequences including financial and reputational damage.

How can Olliers assist?

Security professionals have a very important role in safeguarding people whether it be in pubs, clubs, football stadiums, concert arenas and the like. They can also find themselves facing malicious allegations such as assault and theft or can even find themselves called in inquest proceedings and/or public inquiries. The team at Olliers have considerable experience in both criminal and regulatory matters, therefore, if you are a security professional and find yourself in need of legal advice and assistance please get in touch.
Gareth Martin

Gareth Martin

Partner

Manchester

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