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Industry bodies have called for more support for the private security sector to combat the "diminishing numbers" of qualified personnel in the UK
By Jon Chapple on 18 Aug 2017
Britain is facing the prospect of a shortage of qualified event security staff following a sharp drop in the number of Security Industry Authority (SIA) licences being reissued.
Licence renewals have fallen almost 40% since 2013, according to a report published by the United Kingdom Crowd Management Association (UKCMA) – a situation which, if allowed to continue, could have a “dramatic” effect on safety at venues and large events in the UK.
“Given the ongoing heightened security threat levels, the traditional government security services are heavily supplemented by private providers,” reads the report, which follows a February 2017 survey by the University of Derby, backed by UKCMA and the Football Safety Officers Association (FSOA) that sought to explain the “diminishing numbers” of stewards in the UK. “[T]he impact of diminishing numbers of trained security personnel could be dramatic.”
The six key reasons cited for the difficulty in retaining security workers are poor rates of pay; irregular work patterns; the casual nature of the workforce; competition; the cost of qualifications; and the availability of qualified staff. The report suggests the event security sector “seems to be struggling with financial viability, which is impacting on pay and training budgets”.
This lack of qualified stewards is corroborated by UKCMA’s membership, who told the association that, “especially over the busy summer period” many security providers have been working at “maximum capacity”.
“The government needs to collaborate with industry authorities on an action plan to address the deficiencies in skills and numbers of security personnel”
Showsec managing director Mark Harding, who is also chairman of UKCMA, says it’s “encouraging that the industry has recognised there is a problem, as this acquisition of evidence is all in the interest of public safety. The next stage is to engage stakeholders to find solutions.”
Solutions suggested by UKCMA include diverting money from the apprenticeship levy, which it says is “unsuitable for supporting the night-time economy”, to training more security staff; creating new, more flexible, qualifications as an alternative to the standard NVQ; and ensuring the private security sector has the “necessary resources” to meet the increase in demand following a string of terrorist attacks.
“The government needs to collaborate with industry authorities on an action plan to address the deficiencies in skills and numbers of security personnel,” continues Harding. “The private industry must have the capability and capacity to meet not only ongoing business, but [also] any upsurge in demand caused by one-off incidents.”
A panel at the upcoming Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S), The 3 Rs: Reaction, Response & Recovery, questions whether there is a shortage of trained security personnel and resources. E3S takes place at the Intercontinental Hotel at The O2 in London on 10 October.
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