Brian Sims

Updated qualification and top-up training introduced for close protection sector

THE SECURITY Industry Authority (SIA) has introduced an updated close protection qualification for new applicants to the sector. The updated qualification features four new units covering bespoke physical intervention skills, knowledge of door supervisor responsibilities (including protecting vulnerable people), legislation, threat and risk management plus personal skills, surveillance awareness, search procedures, foot drills, venue security, journey management reconnaissance and preparing for (and carrying out) a close protection assignment.

The existing units which cover the theoretical and practical aspects of working as a close protection operative have also been refreshed by the regulator.

The SIA has also announced the introduction of top-up training for close protection operatives who apply to renew their SIA licence from 1 October 2022. The top-up training will be available from Friday 1 July 2022.

The new top-up qualification will include physical intervention skills, safety-critical content and terror threat awareness. For their part, operatives must make sure that their First Aid qualification has at least one year to run before they take the top-up training.

These changes, which are based on the views of expert stakeholders, “reflect extensive research and discussion” with the industry.

Throughout its engagement with the private security industry, the SIA has noted that concerns were raised around skills having the potential to fade over time. The introduction of top-up training will help to ensure that all operatives have the knowledge and skills necessary for them to deal with common risks, and particularly so in safety-critical areas.

The top-up requirements will only affect existing licence holders when they come to renew their licence after 1 October this year. For existing licence holders, the changes will roll-out over the course of the next three years.

Protect the public, raise standards

Steve McCormick, director of licensing and standards at the SIA, said: “A key element of our role as the regulator is to work with the industry to protect the public and raise standards in private security. The new requirements will help to achieve this aim by ensuring that close protection operatives have the most up-to-date skills needed to keep themselves, their clients and the public safe.”

Rick Mounfield CSyP FSyI, CEO of The Security Institute and a member of the Project Board focused on the updated qualification and training, commented: “The career path for close protection officers is often difficult. Contracts can be fractious and competition is fierce. Those who professionally develop beyond the basic requirements have always stood out from the crowd.”

Mounfield continued: “This SIA requirement to upskill is an important evolution in the sector and those that are true professionals will welcome it. It’s a move that raises the bar for all, but still leaves space for enhanced professional development by choice. These enhancements are not exhaustive, but they are implemented with the collective feedback from industry leaders and close protection officers who chose to participate in the consultation. I applaud the SIA for engaging with and listening to the experts whom the organisation regulates.”

*For more information about the new qualification read ‘Changes to the training you need for an SIA licence’

**Rick Mounfield’s blog concerning what the new changes mean for close protection operatives can be accessed online

Terror scenarios

A counter-terrorism emergency planning exercise held in Glasgow on Sunday 10 April witnessed security operatives dealing with realistic terror scenarios presented by actors.

The SIA organised and ran the safety resilience exercise at Kokomo on Glasgow’s West Regent Street. This is the first exercise of its kind to be orchestrated north of the border and ran in partnership with Police Scotland counter-terrorism officers and representatives of Glasgow City Council.

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

Ronnie Megaughin, the SIA’s acting director of inspections and enforcement, stated: “Putting these security operatives into realistic terror scenarios is one of the best ways in which to prepare them in the event of a real-life incident. We stage a terror incident, watch how they deal with the scenario and then provide an instant debrief from counter-terror experts. From past experiences, we know that that operatives and their managers really appreciate what they learn from these events and find them worthwhile. Any of the security operatives involved could one day find themselves as the first responder at a serious incident. Prior training could literally be the difference between life and death.”

Night-time economy

Lee Crofts, the SIA’s criminal investigations manager who co-ordinated the event, added: “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 (ACT) 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 of the security staff put into the Kokomo exercise.”

This emergency planning exercise continues a programme of exercises and follows on from events in Chesterfield and London late last year. A pilot event took place at Buxton in Derbyshire back in October 2019.

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