Brian Sims

Certification bodies join forces to fight scourge of rogue labour

SERVICE BUYERS who are serious about protecting the public and rooting out rogue elements in security provision at a time when events are restarting in earnest after over a year of lockdowns should ask security companies to evidence their approval to the Code of Practice for the Provision of Labour in the Security and Events Sectors. That’s the firm belief of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI), ACM-CCAS and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).

In the interests of all security providers and event organisers – and, indeed, members of the public attending events – the trio of certification bodies operating in the security sector and appointed by the Security Industry Authority have joined forces to offer a ‘Labour Provision Scope of Approval’ to their approved companies, in turn protecting the public from rogue security workers, and security workers from the risk of exploitation.

The NSI, ACM-CCAS and the SSAIB share the view that the widest adoption of the Code of Practice will best serve the public to good effect in deterring rogue labour deployment.

Anyone involved in the delivery of security services, and particularly so in the events sector, will know that the industry is immensely flexible in managing licensed security officer resources to accommodate its clients.  It does this through two key and proven methods: sub-contracting and labour provision.

The fundamental distinction between the two is often misunderstood – or, worse still – not even recognised by buyers. Labour provision falls outside the scope of the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) even for ACS approved companies. Therein lies the loophole and the risk. The risk is particularly prevalent in the events sector where security provision may be unwittingly compromised by the deployment of untrained, underpaid, unlicensed, non-security screened or terrorism-motivated individuals.

Employment practices

The risk is compounded by less scrupulous operators undercutting the professional industry in labour provision at rates that strongly suggest immoral and, in some case, illegal employment practices. Social media posts evidencing this behaviour are not hard to find.

800-plus security companies who maintain ACS approval granted by the Security Industry Authority are mindful that this signals to buyers a degree of professionalism and competence upon which the latter rely. Yet, and as is true with all approval schemes, the devil’s in the detail. While robust in its assessment process, the reach of the ACS is limited to contractors themselves. It doesn’t encapsulate their labour providers. Therein lies the ‘loophole’.

Identifying this as a growing concern over the last few years, and one which many in the sector recognise, the NSI developed a Code of Practice which has enabled approved companies to specify approval to the Code as a requirement within their labour supply chain. The NSI has also proposed that the Code of Practice should be adopted by the British Standards Institution within a new industry standard.

Annual audit

Any company operating as a labour provider can apply for approval to this scope and will be audited annually against the requirements. The latter include checks to ascertain whether or not PAYE is being operated for all staff, whether or not the National Minimum or Living Wage is being paid, if holiday pay and a pension are being provided and if ID and ‘Right to Work’ checks are being conducted. Other checks focus on screening to BS 7858 and ongoing Security Industry Authority licensing checks.

The three assessing bodies will require all approved companies to use only labour providers approved to the Code of Practice or actively audit them to the requirements of the Code – and evidence that process – as part of their own ongoing approval.

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