What now for the ‘broken’ licensing regime?

Recently I asked whether the time was right for robot security guards. Some laughed, others suggested I was fixated with technology, and a few agreed with my thoughts. Following the high profile news that some manned guarding licensing schemes are corrupt, a few more might now see the value in such a suggestion!

The Security Industry is split into two main sectors: technology and manned services. Whilst it is true that the best solutions often combine elements from each, there will always be a bias. Typically, end users either opt for a predominantly technology-based solution, with a small number of personnel as operators and/or responders, or they prefer a manned presence, made more efficient by some use of technology.

The reality is that the two sectors compete. End users don’t have limitless budgets, and installers and integrators therefore have to ensure that their proposals highlight how technology can resolve the weaknesses of the human element of security.

Technology turns up on time, it doesn’t take a nap, it doesn’t look for ways to reduce its workload, and it certainly won;t turn a blind eye to its mates (or colleagues) performing a criminal offence. Now, on reading that, some of the other side of the fence will be quick to point out that licensing created a more professional guarding sector. Every time I hear that I smell a whole bunch of something, and it ain’t bananas!

It is true that some companies used licensing and the Private Security Industry Act to raise their game, but the industry as whole didn’t step up to the plate. The SIA was trumpeted as a force to be reckoned with. They were going to police licensing, and the dominant message was that any shenanigans would certainly not be tolerated!

The latest metaphorical kick in the teeth for those using SIA licensed personnel comes in the form of a BBC investigation where SIA licences for bodyguards were obtained without undergoing the proper training and certification. No doubt, there will be some who roll their eyes and mutter about ‘a few bad apples’, or an ‘occasional error’. They’ll no doubt vow to do better in the future.

Of course, the BBC investigation isn’t a one-off, nor are its results unique. Anyone who follows news from the SIA will be aware that this is not the only time that organisations have been accused of fraudulently manipulating training and qualifications records. During previous incidents the regime was, we were told, going to be improved. It would learn lessons, they stated. Seemingly, that didn’t happen.

The bottom line is that for those end users looking to invest their security budgets in the protection of people, premises and property, the argument for technology just got a hell of a lot stronger. It can deliver a more robust and reliable level of protection, it can be trusted to deliver the appropriate level of performance, and it might reduce the number of criminals accessing a site, especially if some currently clock in wearing a guard’s uniform!

Some will still laugh at the idea of robot security guards, but it does make sense, especially if they integrate with the site’s other systems to present a seamless package!

The latest nail in the coffin of licensing might be a boost for tomorrow’s robots!


Benchmark is the industry's only publication for installers and integrators which is dedicated to technological innovation and the design and implementation of smarter solutions. With an unrivalled level of experience in technology-based systems, Benchmark delivers independent and credible editorial content.

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