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Private Security Industry Act (2001)

The Private Security Industry Act (2001) was brought in to set, maintain and raise the standards of the UK’s private security industry. It created a new organisation called the Security Industry Authority (SIA), an independent body reporting to the Home Secretary. Its aims are to regulate the private sector security industry effectively, to reduce crime, raise standards and recognise quality service.

Security in bomber jacket

Security Industry AuthorityThe SIA has three main duties.

1. The compulsory licensing of individuals undertaking designated activities within the privatesecurity industry.

SIA Licensing ensures that those working in private security are the right people for the job and that they are properly trained and qualified. SIA licences cover all of the roles listed above.

Anyone working in these roles listed must have an SIA licence as it is a criminal offence to do so without one. If found guilty of working without a valid licence a security operative could be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000 or sentenced to prison for up to six months. It is also a criminal offence to employ someone who does not have an SIA licence for licensed activities. If a security operative is employed ‘in-house’ then there is no requirement for an SIA licence.

To get an SIA licence, an applicant needs to be over 18, hold a recognised qualification relevant to the security sector, and pass a criminal record and other fit and proper person checks. They will also need to pay a licence fee. This licence will last for three years after which time they will need to renew it.

The main purpose of the private security industry in the UK is to provide manned and technical services for the protection of people, premises or property. It is part of the ‘extended policing family’ and is made up of different sectors (see below). The private security industry is regulated by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).

A security operative is someone who:

Works within the private security industry
Controls access and exits of premises
Enforces the rights of private property owners
Provides assistance to the police or other law enforcement agencies

The different sectors

There are different areas and job roles within the private security industry. For example: working in retail venues as security guards, in night-time venues as door supervisors or for councils as CCTV operatives. The following are licensed activities:

Door supervision – door supervisors provide security duties in licensed premises such as pubs and nightclubs. Their role is to keep staff and customers safe, prevent crime and maintain order.

Security guarding – security guards may look after premises, protecting them from damage, unauthorised access or occupation. They may also guard property ensuring it is not stolen or damaged.

Key holding – a security guard could have the responsibility for the locks to the premises and this is called key holding.

Close protection – close protection is the guarding of an individual from assault or injury.CCTV operations – Closed Circuit Television (Public Space Surveillance) operators monitor

the activities of people in a private or public place using CCTV equipment.

Vehicle immobilisation – vehicle immobilisers are responsible for specific areas of private land and have powers to remove vehicles, restrict their movement with a device (clamp) or release vehicles after payment of a fine.

Cash and valuables in transit – these operators are responsible for the safety of property whilst using specific vehicles such as armoured cars.


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