(MENAFN Press) (EMAILWIRE.COM, November 27, 2012 ) Bristol, UK --
The British Home Office has proposed ending mandatory licensing for private security firm workers, and instead have companies police themselves. The plan would also privatize the current industry regulator, the Security Industry Authority.
At present, over 330,000 individuals working in about 4,200 UK security companies hold SIA licenses as private security workers. Officials say the planned transition to a business regulation regime is justified by the private security industry's maturity and willingness to shoulder greater responsibility with self-regulation.
If adopted, the change will give private security firms, rather than the SIA, responsibility for checking the qualifications and practices of security workers. The newly privatized SIA would be in charge of disciplining firms and individuals failing to meet industry standards, with sanctions ranging from being banned from the industry to criminal prosecution.
Mandatory licensure and the creation of SIA as a government regulator date back to 2001, when legislation was adopted in an attempt to address concerns of rampant crime among contract security guards and nightclub bouncers. At the time, the measure covered about 130,000 individuals working for private security firms, much less than half the number now covered by the licensing law. The Home Office plan calls for repeal of that legislation.
The minister for criminal information stated the proposed changes would boost the system's accountability and transparency. He said the reform plans will raise standards and free up the SIA to concentrate on stamping out poor business practices and criminality. He also noted the importance of not overburdening businesses with unnecessary bureaucracy and regulations, and argued that consumers would benefit from cost savings from the new regulatory system that would be passed on to them.
While many of the proposed changes can be effected legislation, officials hope that needed legislative changes can be finalized by October 2013. Officials said they would consult with Parliament during the next several months. The current chairman of the SIA, Lady Ruth Henig, is due to leave the agency in January, six years after taking its helm.
The SIA removed its chief executive in 2008 after it was learned he had hired for his own staff several dozen workers who had not been properly vetted. SIA was also found not to have performed adequate checks on the work eligibility of thousands of workers hired for sensitive positions. As a result, illegal immigrants ineligible for the position wound up guarding the Prime Minister's car and being cleared to work in other security positions.