Hiring Security Guards

Provision and performance of private security services is governed by the Private Security Industry Act 2001 and regulated by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).

The Private Security Industry Act imposes certain conditions on employers, security service suppliers and Licence holders. For example, any person employed on security duties must be appropriately licensed by the SIA.

Neither the SIA, nor the Private Security Industry Act 2001 specifically direct how security services should be conducted.

Ensure the people who guard your premises are appropriately trained

In order to qualify for their Licence to Practice, Security Guards will need to have received the training required by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).

However, the training required by the SIA to qualify for a Security Guard Licence does not include any training in the physical management of violent people, or how to physically eject trespassers, or how to respond to criminal offenders who resist arrest. So, if these situations are likely to arise in the course of their employment (for example, Hospital A&E Departments, Retail Outlets, Benefits Agencies, Public Events, etc.), additional training will be needed before Security Guards can safely be deployed.

SIA training is not all the training that security operatives need

The introduction of the licence-linked training requirements for security operatives was accompanied by SIA assertions that ‘Core Competencies’ had been established for each security sector and that the licence linked ‘Specifications for Learning and Qualifications’ would ensure that anyone applying for their SIA Licence would first need to pass a qualification ‘that reflects current and best industry practice’ and demonstrate that they have the knowledge and/or skills that are ‘core to the role in which they wish to work’. The SIA statements resulted in many people being misled into wrongly believing that the training required for SIA Licencing purposes was all the training that Security Guards needed.

It is a classic example of ‘well intentioned’ regulation setting a training specification for a licence to practice qualification that is actually lower than the Health and Safety legislation would require, i.e. through Risk Assessment of the role to be performed. For example, the Training Specification for Security Guards didn’t (and still doesn’t) include any training in the physical management of violent people, or how to physically eject trespassers, or how to respond to criminal offenders who resist arrest, or even how to use Personal Radios.

The SIA then clarified matters.

In the July 2007 edition of Security Management Today magazine, Andy Drane, (Former) SIA Director of Compliance and Enforcement said:

“We have always made it clear that the training required to obtain a licence is not necessarily all that’s needed to carry out every security operative’s role…The SIA has worked closely with industry to ensure that its specifications reflect a meaningful level of achievement, without setting the bar so high that it becomes an unjustified intervention in business or prohibitively expensive….surely a sensible supplier doesn’t just accept a qualification as the only factor in deciding whether to employ (and then deploy) an individual? They also have a responsibility to ensure that they’re fit for the specific assignment and the needs of the customer. Clients who accept the provision of security personnel not able to meet their security needs are failing in their responsibility to protect their premises, stock, employees and customers.”

Mr Drane’s statement was a candid acceptance that the training required by the SIA for Door Supervisor Licence-linked training requirement) may not be adequate to fulfill Health & Safety requirements. Whilst Mr Drane’s comments clarified the position, the SIA have not made sufficient effort to dispel the false impressions and it is, unfortunately, a situation that will continue until the SIA take the necessary steps to correct the misunderstanding.

Inadequate training puts everyone at risk!

Inadequate or inappropriate training means management have no real control over the way staff behave. It also leaves the security service provider (and the contracting organisation) vulnerable to criticism and liability for adverse outcomes.

Liability cannot be abrogated to a third party security service supplier

Whilst, the case of Viasystems (Tyneside) Limited v Thermal Transfers (Northern) Limited presented the possibility of ‘dual liability’ in the event of unfortunate outcomes, realistically it is not something likely to occur in the case of an organisation hiring in security from a third party company. This is  because of the ‘control’ the hiring organisation would always want to maintain over how the security services are performed. If such control is exerted, it means that organisations that contract-in security services will remain 100% vicariously liable for the actions of the ‘hired-in’ Door Staff and for what happens to them too, even though technically they are not employed by them.

This was the outcome in the Court of Appeal case Hawley v Luminar Leisure Ltd [2005] EWHC 5 (QB); [2005] Lloyd’s Rep IR 275.

The case involved a Doorman employed by ASE Security Services Ltd (ASE) who had worked at a club belonging to Luminar for some two years during which he presented to visitors to the club as a Luminar person, in that he wore a Luminar uniform. While working at the club, the Doorman assaulted David Hawley, the plaintiff, who was seriously injured as a result. The trial judge found that Luminar had assumed detailed control not only over what the Door Supervisors were to do in the exercise of their services for the club, but also in the manner in which they were to do it. This was acknowledged in their job description and they performed their work under the provisions of Luminar’s Code of Practice. The club manager had the authority to issue instructions as to how the Doorman should be deployed, who should be admitted to the club and procedures for dealing with trouble. The Court of Appeal found that these factors effectively passed control of the Doorman to Luminar, sufficient to render them vicariously liable for his assault.

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Specify training and equipment requirements in contracts

The training schedule for Security Operatives and the safety equipment they’ll require needs to be determined by a Risk Assessment of the security role to be performed at the particular location/venue.

Before commencing duty at a ‘new’ site, Security Operatives will also need to be familiarised with the client organisation’s Policies and Procedures.

Security service requirers are strongly advised to specify these requirements explicitly in their contractual terms with security service providers.

Precautionary measures and considerations

Organisations looking to contract for a Security Guard presence in response to a risk of violence or other criminality would be wise to ensure that the Guards they are going to be relying on:

  • Are all suitably Licenced by the SIA to carry out the duties they are expected to perform.
  • Are going to be deployed in sufficient numbers to safely manage situations that may be foreseeable, based on Risk Assessment (i.e. not simply the number of security staff required by the Local Authority’s Licensing department!)
  • Have been issued with suitable (workable) guidance and local procedures to follow in incidents where violence is a factor
  • Understand their instructions, their responsibilities and the law
  • Fully appreciate the rights of others
  • Know the danger of causing asphxyiation during physical restraint – and what methods and what signs and symptoms present a high risk of it happening
  • Are suitably supported to carry out their purpose effectively, safely and in a client centered way
  • Can demonstrate competence (Trained/Experienced)

If you are contracting in Security Guards, get ‘Best Value’

The European Union has developed an extensive legislative framework to cover public procurement that is designed to drive standards up by freeing local authorities to award contracts on the basis of Best Value.

The concept of Best Value seeks to take into account not only a favourable price, but also the quality elements of a bid for service provision.

The tendering of security services falls under the remit of the European Services Directive (Council Directive 92/50/EEC) and now allows local authorities to award contracts to the “economically most advantageous tender”.  Supporting this, a handbook has been produced for use by adjudicating authorities that provides a checklist of criteria for assessing the quality of private security services. This highlights the value to end users of taking these criteria into consideration and it also provides an excellent system for quotes which enables bids to be assessed according to criteria of both price and quality.

You can get it FREE by visiting the securebestvalue.org web site.