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  • Writer's pictureFarah Benis

Why SIA Regulations Are Good For The Security Industry

The private security industry has not always had the best reputation. Prior to government regulation in the early 2000s, literally anyone could work in the industry. No criminal record checks were required. Nobody was assessing security suppliers. The industry lacked standards.

Government regulation is responsible for raising the bar. It has brought new levels of safety, respect and quality into the industry. And it is mostly thanks to the Private Security Industry Act in 2001, which led to the formation of the SIA.

What is the SIA?

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) is the regulatory body for the UK's private security industry. Formed in 2003 off the back of the Private Security Industry Act, the SIA is a government organisation, reporting directly to the Home Secretary. It has two main areas of responsibility.

Firstly, the SIA provides quality assurance. Their Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) assesses providers on 78 different functions, including health and safety, financial management and staff training. They check thoroughly, making sure that standards are upheld and that people involved really are qualified to carry out their roles. Since the SIA is primarily responsible for regulation of private security throughout the United Kingdom, it also oversees the issuing of licenses to everyone working in the industry.

SIA Licenses

The Security Industry Authority issues two categories of license:

  • Frontline License. This type of license is required by persons deemed to be partaking in what is defined as licensable activity, with the exception of key holding.

  • Non-Frontline License. The second type of license is for managers, directors, supervisors and employers of those people engaging in licensable activity. If they carry out such activities themselves, they still require a frontline license.

Licensable Activity

The Private Security Industry Act of 2001 defines the following activities as licensable:

  • Cash and Valuables in Transit

  • Close Protection

  • Door Supervision

  • Key Holding

  • Public Space Surveillance (CCTV)

  • Security Guarding

  • Vehicle Immobilisation

Those wishing to engage in any of these activities must hold a valid SIA frontline license.

Anyone wishing to perform more than one function may need to apply for an additional license, depending on the exact role and license involved. For example, a CCTV License does not permit the holder to work as a Door Supervisor..

What All Of This Means For You

SIA licenses are there to protect you. Every SIA license holder is trained to meet industry standards in terms of professionalism, communication and of course, the details required to do the job. An SIA license also requires background checks. This ensures that you are only working with individuals possessing a clean criminal record.

Additionally, recent changes to SIA regulations came into force in April 2021, requiring security staff to undergo first aid training prior to applying for a license. These plans are clearly well intentioned. But the timing came in for severe criticism from certain sections of the private security industry.

Regulatory Backlash

Groups such as the UK Door Security Association (UKDSA) raised concerns about a shortage of security staff. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, much of the workforce has found alternative employment. It is also true that many non-UK nationals, who made up more than a quarter of SIA license holders in 2018, have returned home during this crisis.

The UKDSA asserts that, when the UK reopens later this year, more than half of the required vacancies in the private security industry will remain unfilled. By adding a further barrier to entry, the UKDSA argues that the staffing crisis will be exacerbated.

However, many in the private security sector recognise the benefits of such regulations. First aid training saves lives, and will undoubtedly increase health and safety standards among security workers. A properly trained first-aider must demonstrate communication skills, composure and sound judgement. These are competencies which any skilled security worker should already possess in abundance.

We should not view these SIA licensing requirements as obstacles. They are steps to increasing overall standards. If security suppliers ensure that staff are better trained, standards will increase across the board.

FFA Goes Above And Beyond

At FFA Security Group, we are certain that increased regulation raises standards in the sector as a whole. But we also feel strongly that each security supplier has an individual responsibility to do their part. They should not wait for the regulator to force them.

FFA truly believes that, in order to service our clients to the highest possible standard, it is necessary to train our staff to the highest possible standard. And that's why we ensure that everyone on our team undertakes further training in addition to the minimum required for an SIA license.

As per our mission statement to make a positive impact on people’s lives, FFA educates staff on topics such as customer service, diversity and inclusion, unconscious bias, and sexual harassment. We go above and beyond for our clients.

If you want to work with a security services supplier whose core values are diligence, reliability and professionalism, please get in touch. Call 0208 050 7671 or email us at

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