The recent refusal by the Home Office to pursue the implementation of business licensing within the private security sector will weaken the ability for front line security to protect the public from potential terrorist threats, and will compromise the implementation of Martyns Law in the future (Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill).
The NTIA & UKDSA have expressed huge concern over our ability to protect the public, with an estimated 4,000 frontline security resource supply companies working within the hospitality and night time economy which are untraceable by the Regulator and key Government departments.
An analysis of the current Approved Contractor Scheme which has a limited number of Door Security Suppliers within it, with an estimated 800 voluntary members, which are largely self assessed, questions have to be raised with regard to the ability for the regulator to control this part of the sector under the current regime.
There has already been a considerable issue around quality and retention following the pandemic, and there are existing challenges with the Private Security Act itself, mainly around standards, both for operative and supply companies.
At present the current system has created a disparity in taxation, where ACS accredited company participants must employ all their operatives via PAYE, whereas non-accredited businesses, which are not registered and not tracked by the regulator are contracting operatives via UTR Self Employed Schemes to maximize financial position and be more price competitive.
Some of these businesses are subject to tax avoidance, devoid of training and standards, and are not subject to the appropriate level of internal vetting, with many allowing access for uninsured operatives and are known within the sector for poaching staff directly from competitors on cash based terms.
With Martyns Law currently under scrutiny, there is a concern that frontline security for thousands of businesses across the country, with public access but without mandatory business licensing, will not have the appropriate standards of vetting, insurance and basic training required to keep people safe within public spaces.
Recommendations from the Manchester Arena Inquiry : Volume (1) Security for the Arena : The SIA
“In addition to licensing individuals, the SIA runs an Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS). This is a voluntary scheme and, while individuals who carry out security work may require a license or licences depending on what functions they carry out, companies who provide security and supervise these activities do not. While the ACS provides assurance that the member is a fit and proper person, there is nothing to prevent someone who is not a member of the scheme setting up and running a company providing security services. The SIA promotes good practice through its ACS. But there is no compulsion on companies to become a member or carry out good practice. While checks are made on how a company conducts its business when it applies to join the scheme, self-certification plays a considerable part in the process.”
“I recommend that consideration is given to amend the SIA legislation to require that companies which carry out security work which may include a counter-terrorism element are required to be licensed. This will ensure that only fit and proper companies carry out this work. It will also ensure that they are aware of and guard against the risks of terrorist attacks at the events where they operate and carry out proper procedures, including training to mitigate those risks.” Link : https://manchesterarenainquiry.org.uk
OPUS 2 Manchester Arena Inquiry : Page 41 : Sir John Saunders – Mr Hipgrave
Home Affairs Select Committee on Martyns Law, evidence being presented by the Chief Executive Michael Kill on security sector concerns below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGlHwPiN98A
This is a considerable oversight by the Home Office, and could leave a huge void in the overarching strategy for counter terrorism, as businesses begin to prepare for the implementation of the duty across the UK, there is no mechanism which will assure that each of those security resource suppliers meet the standards of vetting required to supply security personnel.
The NTIA & UKDSA will continue to work with the Home Office, HMRC and the Security Industry Authority on the current challenges in the drive to a long-term solution.
The sector has faced a legacy of systemic issues, particularly around the outdated legislation which governs the industry and regulator. There are similar Business Licensing regimes in both Southern Ireland and Australia which would present a very clear solution for the current challenges moving forward.
Michael Kill CEO NTIA Says
“Following the recommendations from the Manchester Arena Inquiry, the refusal by the Home Office to implement a business licensing scheme for all private security businesses is a considerable oversight.”
“The Home Secretary and Security Minister have little or no grasp of the issues faced by the sector, particularly one that is on the verge of implementing a new duty to protect premises accessed by the public from a potential terror threat.”
“It is glaringly obvious that a limitation in control of companies which supply security resource, and don’t follow a strict vetting procedure will leave a considerable void in the overarching counter terror strategy for businesses on the ground.”