What is SIA ACS Certification?
The SIA ‘Security Industry Authority’ is an government organisation which regulates the security industry and offers an ACS or ‘Approved Contractor Scheme’ which is a UK recognised hallmark to show the company is operating in an ethical fashion and is following industry codes of practice.
In consultation with the Private Security Industry Act 2001, this scheme was designed by members of the security industry which helps organisations to demonstrate their competence, training and commitment to the continuous improvement of their operations.
SIA ACS Requirements
Obtaining ACS Certification distinguishes a company from its competitors and instils confidence that the service provided is of a high standard.
Although the ACS scheme is entirely voluntary, it is becoming a commercial necessity to be SIA ACS approved regardless of the security sector the business is in, so it is of benefit of the organisation to obtain SIA ACS accreditation now.
The SIA state that before awarding a company ‘Approved Contractor status’ they must be satisfied that “…the company seeking approval must be a fit and proper organisation, and the company directors must be fit and proper persons” and “supplying a security service for over 12 months with a contract and minimum of 2 staff on PAYE”.
All directors of the company will need to obtain an SIA license before the ACS process can be started. This is a legal requirement and should already be in place if they are doing business.
All staff that carry out a security function must by law hold a valid licence which covers the duties that they are performing. Some licences can cover more than 1 duty, i.e.; a door supervision licence will allow a member of staff to carry out security guarding duties, but all licences must be checked at least monthly and detailed records kept.
The objective of SIA ACS lies firmly on improving performance standards, hence the need to undertake a rigorous approval procedure. Both the company and those that run it will be assessed and checked to ascertain whether they are deemed suitably capable and appropriately qualified to do their jobs.
The first step is to complete an application form and send with the necessary evidence to the SIA to carry out due diligence checks (Insurance certs, company registration docs, licence numbers etc). A self assessment (work book) needs to be completed to show the company has addressed all the elements of the scheme.
Once this information has been submitted, we will then ensure that all the points have been implemented and the records kept accordingly to indicate conformance. ISO 9001 is very similar to the SIA-ACS requirements, so it may be possible to simultaneously achieve ISO 9001 at the same time as SIA approval.
Once everything is in place, an independent assessment body approved by the SIA will need to carry out a visit to the premises and will test the company against the SIA-ACS requirements to ensure conformance. During this visit, they will also want to talk to some of the staff and customers to confirm that the organisations is responsible and that they can validate this.
What Are the Benefits of SIA ACS Approval?
It takes investment and dedication to gain SIA ACS certification but the rewards and subsequent benefits for the organisation, its staff and customers are well worth it.
Some of the benefits that can be gained from SIA ACS approval include;
- An easily demonstrated commitment to quality, management and customer service
- Proves that the staff and security personnel provided are sufficiently fit and adequately trained to perform their roles
- Instils confidence in the quality of service that is provided
- Certifies that your service has been independently assessed against recognised standards
- Delivers entry to the SIA Register of Approved Contractors, therefore emphasising the organisations status as one of the strongest providers of private security services in the UK
- Accredited businesses are permitted to display the approved contractor plaque and/or certificate at their premises as well as adding the standard to their website, social media and vehicles
- Provides a competitive edge over others in the market
Although the approval process for the scheme can be a considerable investment of time and resources, security providers can expect numerous benefits and advantages to being certified. ACS accredited security companies nearly always renew their yearly registration once they have acquired it, with many organisations reporting that it not only helped them win more contracts, but actually run their business more effectively.
The Approved Contractor Scheme makes it straightforward for security companies to monitor and measure their performance and instils in them the key factors needed for success in the industry. Security firms that have attained ACS are able to better identify areas for improvement, gather clear feedback from clients and measure performance against key indicators. These security companies work to continuously improve the weak areas of the business, learn from their mistakes and steadily increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their overall operations.
- Increased Business Opportunities
Ultimately, the aim of any business, no matter the industry, is growth. SIA certification is a tool that helps organisations to stand out from competitors within the market and gain a strong advantage that helps them to secure new business.
Once accredited, SIA ACS certification will result in entry to the Register of SIA approved contractors which is widely circulated to government departments and local authorities. This acts almost as an additional marketing tool which can help businesses to reach organisations previously beyond their reach.
The Need for SIA ACS
Organisations within the security industry might not give much thought to what some consider ‘additional certification’ thinking that because they meet the minimum legal obligations that there is no need for anything else outside of the compulsory licensing requirements.
The Private Security Act of 2001, Sections 3 and Schedule 2, define the types of firms that would need to apply for licensing as;
- Security Guarding
- Door Supervision
- Public Space Surveillance
- Key Holding
- Close Protection
- Cash and Valuables in Transit
Those who are unsure then should seek further advice as conducting business without a license is a criminal offence and can result in a £5,000 and even six-months in prison.
Reasons to Consider the SIA ACS Accreditation
SIA ACS helps organisations in a number of ways to operate successfully in the increasingly competitive security industry.
Although compulsory licensing can be effective, it only guarantees a certain level of staff competence that is no different or better than that of competitors within the market. One incident, staff mistake or error in judgement can lead to lost business, poor reviews and a bad reputation.
The ACS scheme helps to ensure that only the best personnel are hired and existing staff are thoroughly trained to meet the required standard.
Clients who require security services are increasingly looking for ACS certified providers and use this as a marker of quality to help decide which company they will use. Those that have experience with security companies will be well aware of the standout benefits and differences in services between a contractor who is approved and one who is not.
Although it is technically a voluntary scheme, the SIA ACS is rapidly becoming a necessary requirement for security providers is they want to compete and win the best security contracts.
SIA ACS Consultancy Services
At JR Consultants we provide our clients with all the help they need to implement the processes and record the necessary steps to gain certification. Our team of SIA ACS consultants have the unique expertise, knowledge and experience to provide the best guidance and advice to help clients successfully gain full SIA ACS Accreditation.
We can arrange for the assessment to take place and ensure that we are on site during this time to help answer any questions you have and guide you through the process right up to approval.
Once approval is given we continually check the processes on an arranged and regular basis to ensure they are maintained, and that you keep your SIA ACS approval.
For more information about our SIA ACS certification services, please contact us