We invited Michelle Russell, Acting Chief Executive, The Security Industry Authority (SIA) to analyse the impact of 2020 and look forward to 2021:
There is no doubt that the private security industry faced unexpected and unprecedented challenges during 2020.
The government promptly recognised security operatives as key workers, and many people and businesses in the industry adapted rapidly to support changes in demand.
Approved Contractors in particular were in a strong position to take advantage of Government support schemes, where necessary, including the furlough scheme. We saw approved contractors working together to supply staff into new areas. Operatives who previously worked in the night time economy moved into the food supply chain. One positive was how instrumental the flexibility of licence integration was – Door Supervisor licence holders could move seamlessly into Security Guarding.
At the SIA, we eased burdens on industry where we could. We extended payment terms for ACS, and made allowances for the halt in on-site assessments. We worked with awarding bodies and training bodies to develop a pilot for remote classroom licence-linked learning. We enabled applicants to submit electronic versions of documents, where possible, that previously had to be posted.
Our work to regulate the industry, governed by the Private Security Industry Act 2001, continued throughout the pandemic. We switched to home working overnight.
However, we also faced some challenges and limitations in what we could do, particularly on dependencies with some third parties – for example, where paper documents were still required and court dates rescheduled. We also cannot extend the length of individual licences beyond three years without primary legislation.
Some of the changes that COVID-19 has forced will be short term, but many will become the regular way of working. There are still major challenges ahead for many security sectors in 2021. The SIA will continue to listen to, and work closely with, the industry. The learning in a nutshell: the importance of agility, collaboration and engagement.
Acting Chief Executive,
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