All You Need To Know About Getting An S.I.A Licence
The SIA (Security Industry Authority) is the body in charge of regulating the private security industry, protecting the public by ensuring that every private security firm and self-employed individual meets a standard of excellence. They are a private organisation but they report to the Home Secretary under the 2001 of the Private Security Industry Act rules.
Providing contracted security services without a licence is illegal, so every security operative should have either an SIA licence or one provided under equivalent conditions by other bodies. Obtaining a licence is slightly different depending on whether you need one as an individual or for a business, so we’ll walk you through both.
Applying for a Business Licence
If you run a business or organisation that employs people under contract to provide a security industry service, you will need an SIA Business Licence. “Security Industry Services” include door supervisors, CCTV surveillance of a public space, key holding, cash and valuables in transit and close protection, among others which can be found on the SIA website. A business licence will be required regardless of the size of your business, its location or its overall function – if it provides security services in the UK, it requires a licence.
To get hold of a business licence, a business must demonstrate that it is “fit and proper” to provide security services in the UK, by passing a series of investigations carried out by the SIA. These investigations include verifying the business’ identity, the competence of its controlling minds, seeking out any criminal activity by the business and its controllers, the financial circumstances of the business, and its integrity, defined as the ethical conduct and honesty of the business and its controlling minds. The idea behind the SIA is not just to protect the public from unregulated security operatives, but also to improve the image and reputation of private security, and this aim can be seen in some of the requirements for obtaining a business licence.
A business licence lasts five years, and to keep it, the business needs to provide a yearly subscription fee and an annual return that gives evidence of their continued adherence to the set of approval conditions.
Applying as an Individual
First off, an individual must be over 18 years of age to apply for an SIA Licence. They must also have a right to live and work in the UK, and must have completed the required level of training for their post. The SIA will check these things, as well as the identity of the individual, whether they have a criminal record and, in some cases, their mental health. The application costs £220 for a three-year licence, except for a front-line vehicle immobiliser licence, which costs £220 for one year. The SIA aims to process 80% of all correctly completed applications within 25 days, starting on the day they receive the application and ending when they make their decision.
The SIA will not normally seek out information on an applicant held by police or other bodies unless that information was taken to criminal court, but if information is offered they may take it into account during an application process. Generally only compelling evidence of relevant criminal activity will be considered, and even then the consideration will be tempered by its recency and the seriousness of the offence to which it most clearly relates. Of course, information which indicates a potential threat to the public, or which could bring the SIA and the private security industry into disrepute, cannot be ignored and will affect the application. If such information is used as the basis for denying an application, the applicant will be told, and can appeal the decision if they wish.
A mental illness does not automatically disqualify an applicant either; SIA applications will be made aware of any mental health issue where the applicant may have been subject to compulsory measures in the half decade prior to application – information on mental health issues where these measures were not taken will not be sought out. If the person applying has experienced mental health issues recently, they will have to show the SIA an up-to-date medical report that makes it clear what the patient is suffering with and what sort of treatment they are taking for it, and where the report indicates the need for medication or regular review, the SIA may place the requirement for equally regular reports into their licence agreement. If the applicant does not take medication or attend regular their reviews then they will still be required to provide a medical report upon renewal of their licence.