Three years ago when I first joined NSI, the burning topic of the day was regulation of the guarding sector. The new coalition government had come into office with the stated aim of axing the number of so called ‘quangos’ which had multiplied enormously under the previous administration.
The Security Industry Authority was well and truly in their sights for this so called bonfire of the quangos. After just 8 years in existence, its loss would have been tragic for a sector trying to both improve its image and drive up the quality and standards within its ranks. The response from the industry was clear and unequivocal. The Security Alliance successfully lobbied the Home Office and the SIA was saved from the funeral pyre. In addition, a new regulatory regime was promised for the future with more responsibility for individual licensing delegated to the industry, a lighter touch approach, lower costs, a look at a new Hallmark standard and a compulsory licensing scheme for businesses as opposed to just individual officers.
And where are we now? It appears to me that despite all of the discussion and effort and the consultation that the government has lost interest in this plan. There is no sign whatsoever of the legislation needed to be passed by parliament to enact these changes. NSI made a huge effort over Christmas last year to complete in detail the consultation document sent out to seek the views of the industry. The principles of the new regime have been around for a long time – but no meat has been put upon these bones since they were published.
Security must be one of the very few sectors that have actively welcomed more regulation in order to continue its march towards more professionalism and higher standards. What a shame that the administration now seems unwilling to listen and support this ambition. What a shame the administration fails to recognise the contribution which the industry makes towards the safety and security of everyday life and business in our towns and cities. What a lost opportunity.
2010 is now a memory and the industry deserves better. The industry is frustrated and needs to have sight of the future if it is to plan its course forward.
Some years ago, the US military coined the phrase ‘the Revolution in Military Affairs’ or RMA. This was at a time when new technology created new techniques such as network enabled capability (NEC), precision guided weapons and vastly improved sensor capabilities. I now say that there is a revolution in security affairs (RSA) going on around us – but it is not recognised as such, nor is it directed or coordinated in a way which will bring real value to end users and further swing the balance away from the criminal and towards the further reduction in crime rates. HD, IP, UAVs, PSIMs, ultra narrow band and smart phone apps to name just a very few technologies which open up a whole new range of capabilities and will fundamentally change the industry over the next 5 years. But few can see the whole picture and the synergy of the effects of these new capabilities will be lost in time and space unless we pull together more and more of the distributed groups and organisations who represent the key players in this revolution. Many new routes are open before us. The industry may grow at a rate of 9% per year. But there are many opportunities for both guarding services and systems organisations which now need vision and strategy in order to move them forward. Will we miss this opportunity as well?