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Should private security be more regulated? Regulation in the private security sector - too little, too much or just enough? Currently, the private sector is made up of SIA licenced individuals and private security firms who operate under the regulatory body - Security Industry Authority.&nbs
Should private security be more regulated?
September 24, 2019

Regulation in the private security sector - too little, too much or just enough?

Currently, the private sector is made up of SIA licenced individuals and private security firms who operate under the regulatory body - Security Industry Authority. The SIA imposes a very little restriction on who can operate as a security firm and requires individuals to attend on average a 4 day to a 2-week course to get their licence.

The public sector on the other hand - the Police and Military, are heavily regulated by the government and must comply with a number of legislative requirements in order to carry out their duties.  The public sector has far more rigorous training and is required to perform regular assessments in order to operate – adhering to a higher standard of practice.

One argument would suggest yes – the private sector should be more regulated.  The requirements for becoming a private security operator often involve having only an SIA licence and nothing else. After getting an SIA licence there are no supplementary training requirements for up to 5 years.

Security personnel who are in charge of protecting lives aren’t actually trained to protect lives. 

Frequently they don’t know what they are allowed to do in particular circumstances – it is difficult to expect individuals to utilise “discretion” when their training has barely touched on any real-life scenarios.

However, the reality is Security guards do not actually have any more legal powers than any member of the general public – they are more often than not employed to act as a deterrent and where necessary intervention.  Security Guards, like any other member of the public, can make a citizens arrest – but this is where their duty ends.

The onus on security guards is on paper far less than imposed on the public sector – and rightly so in relation to the limited training imposed and realistically available. 

In reality many businesses and the public themselves rely on the protection of private security – examples of where the actions of private security can lead to life or death has been shown in recent times at events such as the MEN bombing when the onus was on the private security teams to conduct thorough searches to avoid prohibited items being brought in.

Could stricter regulations forcing perhaps better training of the private industry leaders to better public protection?  Could stricter regulations lead to a better reputation for the industry?  We have only recently reported that the Police do not view the Private sector particularly favourably – perhaps being why up until now there has been little integration between the two sectors.

One prescription for this problem could be to treat SIA licences like provisional driver’s licences?  By introducing levels of risk associated with certain positions, individuals must “qualify” to apply and be considered. 

In light of society today, and the growing pressures on public security – increased regulation of the private security industry could be beneficial.  More regulation could lead to better integration between the two - public and private industries and lead to better-trained officers able to deal more appropriately with situations earning a more positive public perception.

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