Brian Sims

Inaugural counter-terrorism exercise held for Welsh security operatives

A COUNTER-terrorism planning and training exercise held at Cardiff Students’ Union on Monday 27 February witnessed Welsh security operatives dealing with realistic scenarios presented by actors. The Security Industry Authority (SIA) ran the safety resilience exercise in the Great Hall. The first of its kind to be held in Wales, the SIA organised the exercise in partnership with South Wales Police and Counter-Terrorism Policing Wales.

Phillip Dayment, head of venues at Cardiff Students’ Union, said: “Ensuring the safety of our students is of the utmost importance. We are thrilled to collaborate with the SIA and South Wales Police on this initiative, which will certainly enhance the security resilience for our venues and events at Cardiff Students’ Union. The training programme complements our efforts towards promoting the well-being and safeguarding of our students.”

Inspector Jeff Lewis of South Wales Police noted: “We are very pleased to support this exercise. The Action Counters Terrorism training is a very effective way for security operatives to improve and increase their skills. This has a direct effect on public safety. Effective venue security is crucial and initiatives such as this, when combined with working closely with our partners, can only serve to help keep people safer.”

The training event confronted security staff with a series of real-time simulations – involving actors – of possible emergency scenarios. These included a mass stabbing, an acid attack, a marauding terrorist attack taking place outside the club and the discovery of a suspect package.

Instant debrief

John Sandlin, the SIA’s senior manager of compliance and inspections, explained: “We have run a number of these events across the UK. The event in Wales enabled security operatives to experience scenarios with a counter-terrorism theme in a training environment in order to better prepare them in the event of a real-life incident.”

Sandlin continued: “We staged a number of scenarios, giving the venue staff and security operatives an opportunity to respond. There was an instant debrief from counter-terror experts, which was a great opportunity to provide feedback and learning. We know from previous events that operatives, and their managers, really appreciate what they learn from these events and find them worth their while. Any of these security staff members could find themselves as the first responder at a serious incident, and raising awareness of how to respond to such incidents could prove to be invaluable in helping to protect the public in a real-life scenario.”

Paul Lucas, the SIA criminal investigation manager who co-ordinated the event, stated: “The main aim of exercises like this is to enhance public safety in the night-time economy by working with venues and security staff. It’s also about showcasing Best Practice by putting the Action Counters Terrorism security e-learning package, which we’ve been recommending to all SIA-licensed operatives, into practice. We’re really pleased with the commitment that all the security staff put into the exercise.”

This emergency planning exercise in Cardiff continues a programme of exercises and follows on from events in Windsor and Edinburgh earlier this month. A pilot event took place at Buxton in Derbyshire in October 2019.

Licence fee reduction

From 6 April this year, the cost of applying for an individual SIA licence for any sector in the regulated private security industry will be reduced to £184. This is the lowest fee ever since licensing was introduced in 2004. The reduction applies to both new applicants and those renewing existing licences.

Licence holders applying for an additional licence after this date will pay 50% of the new reduced fee.

The reduction has been possible due to various efficiency and cost savings the SIA has made. These savings have also enabled the SIA to increase its resourcing for its inspection and enforcement work, bolstering its footprint and visibility across the UK without increasing the licence fee. The SIA has doubled the number of staff working in intelligence, inspections and criminal investigations.”

The £6 reduction is on top of the existing £20 reduction in fees funded from previous historical surpluses under a rebate scheme approved by the Treasury, which will continue until 2026. It also represents a 3% efficiencies saving in the SIA’s operational costs. The SIA has committed to continue to work hard on further cost savings and efficiencies to keep the licence fee as low as possible.

SIA CEO Michelle Russell said: “The licence payers and public rightly expect us to be as efficient and as economic as possible, providing value for money for those whom we regulate, while also delivering on key public safety agendas. We recognise that £6 may feel like a small amount of money to many, but in the context of the cost-of-living challenges, for some, every pound counts.”

This latest reduction brings the licence fee down to less than it was 19 years ago when licensing was first introduced. The SIA remains wholly committed to regulating the private security industry effectively and efficiently, all the while keeping the cost to licence holders as low as possible.

At £184, the new licence fee is the lowest it has ever been. If adjusted at inflation levels since 2004, the current fee level would be £350.

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Security Industry Authority

PO Box 74957
E14 1UG

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