SIA Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) – A Way of Raising Standards in The UK’s Private Security Industry

For many years, the private security industry had been perceived to have a poor reputation, with negative press about unscrupulous firms operating unethically, illegally and not working to the standards expected. Due to this situation, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) introduced its quality standard called Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) in 2006, which gives a recognised hallmark of quality within the private security industry.

As there are many benefits to your private security business achieving this standard, its main aim is to “protect the general public and maintain and improve standards within the private security industry”. the voluntary quality was developed in consultation with representatives from across the industry and covers only parts of the industry that are regulated by the protection Industry Authority (SIA) and therefore the Private Security Industry Act 2001.

Approved Contractor Scheme’s latest update includes streamlining the scoring system which is being noted at every annual third party assessment year-on-year, so that an organisation’s performance and improvement and realigning some of the main headings could be measured, which are more contributing to the security industry.

Application requirements

The directors and private security business owners who possess the controlling influence as mentioned in the record of Companies House must meet the fit and proper due diligence checks before presenting their security company’s application to be assessed to the standard is accepted by the SIA. These checks comprise any previous convictions and trends of liquidating previous companies. When the application gets successful the company can move to the next stage which is assessment and must be carried out by an SIA ACS approved certification body. Currently, there are four certification bodies that security companies can choose from. These are all UKAS accredited. These four bodies are:

NSI (nsi.org.uk)

SSAIB (ssaib.org)

Chamber Certification Assessment Services Ltd (ccas.org.uk)

Alcumus (ISOQAR) (alcumusgroup.com)

Components of the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) standard

Security companies must meet the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) standard criteria to get approval. The requirements are generic and can be applied to all companies no matter what the size or sector is. The criteria are segmented into many sub-criteria that when met should present how excellent service delivery and sound business management are achieved.

Strategy

This clause demands the Security Industry Authority’s approved contractor to possess a clear, strategic direction that enables it to deliver value to all stakeholders.

This criterion consists of five subclauses. The Security Industry Authority’s approved contractor can exhibit that it:

  • holds a coherent plan and approach towards business
  • has a clear process for improving the standard of service delivery
  • can effectively handle internal and external communications
  • manages the impact of its services on society and the environment actively
  • measures performance indicators and make improvements

This criterion includes on-premises one-to-one interviews with directors, individual and focuses group meetings with staff, review of records to determine that goals, objectives and targets are visible for all levels of the organisation.

Procedures are defined to confirm conformance to working standards or British Standard codes of practice. Organisations should hold up-to-date copies of relevant standards, while staff must be ready to demonstrate that they understand the codes of practice that are relevant to them. 

Service delivery

An SIA-approved contractor should have robust processes in situ that ensure service delivery to its customers and stakeholders.

This criterion has six subclauses. The SIA-approved contractor must demonstrate that it:

  1. should have effective service delivery processes
  2. has a continuity of service delivery plan
  3. finds and responds to what customers need of a security service
  4. consistently handles service delivery to customers
  5. keeps an eye on internal processes, taking appropriate steps to make improvements when needed
  6. measures and improves performance against key customer indicators

Auditors approach auditing this criterion include face-to-face interviews with directors, managers, staff, security operatives functioning on the front at customer premises, further as on-site interviews with customers and repair users to work out that the organisation has identified key aspects of the business that are critical to its operation.

This blog post is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for wrong arising out of this information.
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