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NI Get Ready

Get ready for SIA licensing. That was the message to Northern Ireland’s private security sector and its customers from David Cave, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) Project Manager in Northern Ireland. He was speaking at a Reliance Security Services conference of security buyers in Belfast on October 14.

Mr Cave said the regulation of the private security market must not suffer the problems that were experienced in the rest of the UK, which underwent licensing between 2006 and 2007, when many security personnel left it to the last minute to undergo the necessary checks and training. The result was a backlog of applications to the Government regulator, the Security Industry Authority, and a shortage of licensed security staff.<br><br>“Preparation is everything,” said Mr Cave. “Whether you are a buyer of security services or a supplier, now is the time to begin planning how the licensing process will affect your business.”<br><br>Northern Ireland’s private security industry is due to begin regulation in December 2009 when it will become an offence to work in the sector without a licence. It will cover all those involved in contract guarding duties, including door staff at clubs, CCTV operators in public places and those involved in vehicle clamping.<br><br>Mr Cave emphasised that it was the responsibility of the individuals concerned to apply to the SIA for a licence, rather than the companies themselves. They would then undergo a 4-day training course and a criminal record check.<br><br>Richard Rowlands, security consultant for global operations at HBOS, and one of Reliance’s larger clients, said the benefits of regulation in the rest of the UK were already being felt with contracted security staff being better trained, motivated and more professional. “I am a passionate believer in regulation,” he told the audience.<br><br>David Donnelly, Quality Improvement Director for Reliance Security Services, said that even though there were 14 months to go before regulation came into force in Northern Ireland, businesses should not be complacent.<br><br>“Security buyers should talk to their suppliers and vice versa. Get a plan together and talk to the SIA sooner rather than later.” He added that although it was up to individual staff to apply for licensing, Reliance had taken the decision to pay for and support its 10,000 staff through regulation in the rest of the UK.<br><br>Earlier, John Bates, the in-coming chief executive of the British Security Industry Association, told delegates that regulation was designed to bring professionalism into an industry that was too often perceived as second-rate. It was also bringing in better value in service provision and encouraging buyers not to look just for the lowest price.

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