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Lobbying on issues on all the sides

IFSEC as ever was a busy time for the BSIA. Occasions included the unveiling of a new section, covering lone workers, chaired by Patrick Dealtry; and a visit from Baroness Henig, until January the chairman of the Security Industry Association, and now evidently not leaving the industry behind, for she has agreed to be the BSIA’s adviser on regulation. As that appointment suggests, a trade body is about more than its members; to represent them, it must show its face to political parties and others. James Kelly the BSIA chief executive ranged over industry and wider affairs with Mark Rowe.

Political party conferences
We last featured James Kelly in our November 2012 issue, after the political party conference season. This year he plans to go to the Conservative and the Labour conferences, a sign of how – the 2015 next general election nearing – it is a prudent time to lobby both parties. The BSIA, with chairman Geoff Zeidler, has done a strategic review. James Kelly said: “Because it’s very difficult for a trade association defining what the tangible benefits are, because so much of it is intangible.” Hence a new mission statement and corporate objectives, and business plan for each section (they run from access control to training, and more could follow).

Members are lifeblood
IFSEC on a Thursday morning; always the quietest day of the exhibition’s four (and indeed from next year IFSEC in London will be only three days, Tuesday to Thursday). Quiet, though, because exhibitors have been so busy, in show hours and in the evening. James Kelly, who comes from a trade association background rather than security, understands well that membership is the lifeblood of an association. He begins on the political front: “We are very anxious to keep a dialogue going with senior parliamentarians and their advisers on all the key issues we want to drive forward.” In particular, regulation, and the security industry speaking to Government with one voice. Hence a submission to the Home Office in its consultation (run until January) on the proposed new regulatory regime in place of the SIA. After the Queen’s Speech, James Kelly met Lord Taylor, to tell the new Home Office minister in charge of the SIA of industry frustration at the ‘lack of progress on timing’. In other words, the Coalition said in autumn 2010 the SIA would be replaced. James Kelly told Professional Security: “We haven’t got clarity on exactly when this regime is going to come in because although he [Lord Taylor] said autumn this year, it is very much dependent on getting parliamentary legislation [hence the meeting after the Queen’s Speech, which set out the Coalition’s proposed laws in the next session of parliament]. And they are not being terribly co-operative about which vehicle would could have to effectively facilitate this regime properly.” Whether a new law has to alter the original Private Security Industry Act 2001 depends in part on what enforcement powers the SIA mark two (or whatever it is) has.

Call for clarity
James Kelly also wants clarity – and we can assume that his members and readers want it too – on costs. “There is going to be a shift in the burden of regulation from individual security guards to the companies that deploy them, because it is going to be the companies that are paying for the licences; or the bulk of the costs.” Though that will mean a level playing field (which is what regulation in the first place was supposed to be all about), it will affect companies differently; some guard contractors pay their guards’ licence fees, but many do not: “The majority probably don’t; now they will all be paying for this business licence fee. But when the reality kicks in, those who aren’t currently paying their guards’ fees are going to pick up some increased cost, unless they are also on ACS [the approved contractor scheme; paying the SIA, that is, a sizeable fee). Some guard firms may choose to continue in an ACS-style scheme; some may move their ACS-money into paying for the business licence. James Kelly is also lobbying the politicians on policing, namely the need for the private sector to meet the public sector budget cuts. He gave Securitas, Constant Security Services, and Advance Security as examples of guarding contractors partnering with police. The police and crime commissioners (elected in November) have changed the relationship between private sector security and police, James Kelly suggested. Some, Labour, PCCs may take the view ‘over my dead body’ on privatisation, but they will have no choice because of cuts, James suggests. Hence round-tables with parliamentarians of all parties, chaired by (Conservative) minister Damian Green and (Labour) former Home Office minister Hazel Blears. And James Kelly has spoken with former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett (’he was very supportive, to be honest’). The BSIA is also lobbying on CCTV – hence the launch of a paper seeking to ‘get a fix on the number of cameras’ in the UK. That matters because it will inform the debate on penetration of CCTV. And as he said, the BSIA is active on exports, which he described as increasingly important, and important for the country: “Frankly it’s a way out of this economic mire.” He praised the work of John Davies (see separate article), the chairman of the BSIA export council. Take for example the UK ‘pavilions’ at overseas exhibitions, such as Intersec in the Middle East in January. As for bringing Skills for Security (SfS) into the BSIA fold, literally in terms of SfS staff moving from their building in Worcester to the BSIA’s offices on the outskirts of the cathedral city, and legally. James hopes to use BSIA contacts for the benefit of the skills body. One of the fundamental reasons for BSIA taking over SfS – it’s now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BSIA, with a board of directors – was to prevent an alternative; another skills body, covering say, cleaning or construction, taking SfS and setting the training standards. Leaving aside how well a non-security-based body could do that, what would it look like?!


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