The success of an event can rely on the choice of event security provider.
Significant events may require a lengthy tender process. Even the smallest events can benefit by following some general good practices when evaluating potential security providers. Due diligence before contracting a supplier can help safeguard an organisation from financial and reputational risk.
Start with the potential security provider’s website. Ask questions such as:
Their website may list high-profile clients or images of well-known brand logos but that does not mean that they have successfully managed the security at the event. Unfortunately, they may not have supplied any services to that client at all. Always seek independent validation and third-party references.
First and foremost, you must find a reputable licensed company that only employs licensed operatives for event security. Should you require to hire event security guards for your event, you must ensure that the security guards employed or contracted are licensed by the SIA. You can ask your chosen event security company for proof of licensing and confirm this on the SIA register.
Any security operative employed to work in the UK must obtain a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence. The Security Industry Authority (SIA) was created in 2003 following the Private Security Act 2001. The SIA is an independent body that reports to the Home Secretary and whose remit covers the United Kingdom.
Devised to ensure the compulsory licensing of individuals undertaking designated activities within the private security industry. Setting out to ‘improve industry standards and remove criminal elements within the industry’. Whilst there is no doubt the criminal element has largely been dispersed, it is questionable whether standards have been raised, or lowered.
There are two main types of SIA licences: frontline and non-frontline. The frontline licence applies to all those who will be actively working within a licensable activity such as security guarding, door supervision, close protection, cash and valuables in transit, public space surveillance (CCTV), and vehicle immobilisers.
A non-frontline license must be held by those that are employed by a security provider but do not provide a frontline service such as security company Directors and managers of security service providers that do not work on the frontline, this licence also applies to key holding services.
When considering the employment of security contactors, a point to note is that employing unlicensed persons in a licensable role, upon summary conviction, may result in a maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. Not to mention the negative publicity that you and your chosen event security company or venue will receive.
So you need to check that the company providing event security and its staff hold valid SIA licenses for the roles that they are going to fulfil. You should also check that their subcontractors hold the necessary certifications and clarify who is responsible for vetting and screening individuals and ensuring each has the correct SIA licence for the role they are undertaking.
Any company or individual you suspect of supplying unlicensed operatives for licensable roles should be reported to the Police, Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or directly to the SIA via their website.
You should also consider what additional training has been given to the personnel being deployed to your event. For example. what counter-terrorism awareness training have they had?
In theory, choosing the best supplier of security services can be made a little easier by using a security supplier registered as an SIA Approved Contractor. This is a voluntary scheme that security providers can apply to join. The company applying must meet 87 different performance indicators which are based on widely recognised business improvement models. The idea is that security companies with the approved contractor status should stand-out as having especially comprehensive good practice criteria. However, it is worth noting though that the scheme is voluntary. In fact, the scheme has received wide criticism from the security community for being a ‘tick-box’ revenue collecting exercise that does little to improve standards. Some of the worst security companies and company directors have been part of the SIA Approved Contractor scheme.
So due diligence should not end or even begin with selecting an SIA Approved Contractor. Maybe you have a preferred supplier in mind that has been highly recommended and not a member of the SIA Approved Contractor scheme. In the same way you would check for reviews or feedback before making any substantial purchase, you must also check out your potential event security suppliers.
If the supplier has the SIA approved contractor logo on their website it does not necessarily mean that they are approved or have met the criteria set out by the SIA. Also, they may be an approved contractor for one security service but seeking to appear that they are approved for all of the different security services you require for your event. Perhaps their accreditation has expired. In all of these cases, please report them to the SIA. You can check the SIA ACS register for up to date credentials at https://www.services.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/Pages/acs-roac.aspx.
Event organisers should check that potential security providers hold sufficient public liability insurance. There should also be a check that the event security company is adequately insured to undertake the security services it is proposing to provide. These checks should be extended to subcontractors or labour providers.
A credit check may assist you in making an informed choice about suppliers and mitigate the risk to your event. Such checks can show if potential suppliers have been associated with companies in the past that have gone into bankruptcy. The true controllers of a business may seek to hide behind front men or women if they have had past difficulties. So check if the decision-makers for the company are who they say they are. A company that takes much longer to pay its invoices than the industry average may soon fail.
You should also check that the company can supply a VAT number and verify the number by contacting HMRC on 03000 538254 before you enter into any agreements. Regular checks of all VAT registration numbers should continue afterwards.
You should also check that the company can supply a PAYE number and consider adding a clause in the contract requiring labour suppliers to show evidence of the VAT and PAYE returns filed and payments they’ve made to HMRC.
It is important that the potential supplier can provide assignment instructions, health and safety policies for staff, contingency plans, staff training, equipment, and continuity of service plans for your event. They should also provide a staff list for all roles they are supplying at your event. You may need visibility of right to work checks for staff, subcontractors or labour providers.
It is worth checking what you are being charged for staff supplied to your event. A business charging less than the suggested hourly cost of supply may be engaging in unsustainable practices. Rates can be checked on the Association of Labour Providers’ website.
Protect your reputation by finding out what staff for your event are actually meant to be paid and that they actually are paid their contractual rate. Rates should comply with the latest National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage rates which can be checked at www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates.