Here the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) highlights that amidst an international atmosphere tarnished with fear due to the increased threat of terrorism, corporate offices, retail outlets as well as those within the hospitality sector should all implement in depth reviews of current security practices to ensure that they are fit for purpose, especially when it comes to hiring professional security personnel.
Like all elements of a security system, procuring security personnel that are fit for purpose is critical to any organisation or outlet wishing to secure their assets as well as their reputation. Problematically, when it comes to looking for a quality security guarding supplier, organisations and businesses are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of suppliers; frequently not knowing what to look for to ensure the highest levels of expertise and professionalism, as well as value for money.
The Guardian ran a story in June focusing on Penny Keza a lady from Hounslow who was targeted whilst shopping in her local supermarket by a security guard who went on to make comments that she felt were discriminatory and humiliating. The article highlighted that amidst a climate where crime is on the rise (shoplifting cost high street stores £438m in 2016), spending on security has decreased; resulting in sub-standard practice, negatively impacting the shopping experience of individual shoppers as well as the reputation of the outlet concerned and possibly its net income.
While security personnel working within the private security industry must be qualified and licensed by the regulator, the Security Industry Authority (SIA), ‘in-house’ staff hired directly by businesses and retailers rather than through a security provider are not subject to the same standards. Commenting on the current situation James Kelly, Chief Executive of the BSIA said: “The BSIA has long campaigned for the government to include in-house personnel, and hopes that action will be taken as part of the forthcoming revision of the current regulatory regime which was promised to the security industry in 2010.”
As the trade association representing the UK’s private security sector, the BSIA requires its members to subscribe to a strict code of practice ensuring the highest levels of professionalism and respect towards the public are adhered to at all times. That’s why anyone hoping to procure quality security personnel, should narrow their search by asking whether a supplier that has been awarded BSIA membership.
Other important questions that should be asked when comparing security guarding suppliers:
Have all costs been taken into consideration?
Initial costings should include costs incurred during every stage in the delivery process. For example, if security personnel are not managed adequately through regular contact, they may be left struggling to complete simple tasks associated with their role. Such an environment would leave a business vulnerable to security breaches and effectively undermine the security systems that have been put in place. Therefore ‘initial cost savings’ wherein costs have been driven down though unsatisfactory means, will impact service levels and, indeed, may even make it necessary to start the cumbersome and costly procurement process all over again.
Travel and subsistence
- What travel and subsistence schemes to do you operate?
Another way employers can reduce costs is not to use the same officers regularly in one place. This way the company can save on National Insurance contributions by claiming back costs for officers’ travel to their place of work and also the cost of buying food while they’re there. As this only applies to short-term placements of less than 2 years, companies often move their staff between sites at regular intervals, meaning that the relationship between the officer and the site – and their knowledge of the site and its security challenges – is lost and must start all over again with their replacement officer.
- Can I see your up-to-date insurance certificates?
Insurance is a must-have for any reputable security company. All security companies should have liability insurance in place to cover them for all eventualities, specifically in areas of professional indemnity and efficacy. Some of the more unscrupulous security suppliers attempt to save money by paying the initial monthly premium but then cancel the direct debit leaving them with no valid liability insurance. This may ultimately render your own insurance void in the case of negligence on the part of a security officer. Therefore it is advisable to ensure that chosen security guarding suppliers have legitimate insurance in place by contacting their insurance provider to ensure all payments are up-to-date. It is also worth checking to see when the policy is due for renewal.
Uniform replacement policy
- What is your uniform replacement policy?
Uniform costings in tender documents are nearly always an approximate calculation. Further, the length of time the uniform will endure will be impacted by the environment officers work in – i.e. whether they are outside or inside. Looking specifically at the tendering process, if a company were to provide poor quality uniforms to officers that are situated outside, there would be a low initial cost on tender documents. However, if the uniform has to be replaced more often the eventual cost will be much higher than that of a company that provides a better quality, longer lasting uniform, albeit at a higher initial cost. Therefore it is important to consider the supplier’s uniform replacement policy in relation to the conditions and location in which they will be working.
- Which British Standards does your service comply with?
Companies that have made the effort to comply with British Standards demonstrate a commitment to quality, which provides added reassurance to the customer that they’re a reputable and reliable company. Therefore it is worth checking whether the supplier has external assessment of BS7499, BS7858 and BS7984. In order to prove this they should be able to show you certificates of assessment, ideally via a UKAS Accredited inspectorate.
VAT AND PAYE Payments
- Are your VAT and PAYE payments up to date?
Some unscrupulous companies run for a period of time and then stop making VAT and PAYE payments, instead choosing to use the money for other illegitimate activities; i.e. ensuring that the company goes into liquidation then re-starting the company under a very similar name using the money from non-payment of legitimate tax to finance a new venture. This could mean that the security officers on your site are unpaid and have outstanding wages. Therefore it is important to ask a potential supplier to prove that these payments are up-to-date, to increase your own peace of mind.
- Are your premises fit for purpose?
A reputable supplier will welcome potential clients to make a site visit prior to signing contracts. You should ensure that the premises are safe and secure, checking the control room to ensure that it is appropriately equipped with PCs and software to manage lone worker check calls and that adequate procedures are in place to deal with occurrences on clients’ sites. If the security company will be holding keys for your premises, check their key control procedures and where your keys are being kept.
Benefits of choosing a BSIA member
BSIA members are subject to rigorous checks before they are admitted into membership, giving you reassurance that you are selecting a quality supplier.
To locate a BSIA member near you visit www.bsia.co.uk