It has been a turbulent year for all industries within the UK amongst the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused the disruption, temporary closure and in some cases the loss of businesses across the country.
Those within the security industry are no exception and business owners, managers and employees can be left unsure of what to do in regards to the SIA, ACS licences for new applications, renewals and seeking advice.
What Is SIA ACS Certification?
The SIA or Security Industry Authority is a government organisation that regulates the UK security industry. They offer an ACS (Approved Contractor Scheme) which is the only recognised scheme within the private security sector to standardise organisations working within it and ensure that companies are operating in a way that is ethical and that follows the industry code of practice, making them worthy of this recognised hallmark.
The scheme was designed by members of the security industry in consultation with the Private Security Industry Act 2001. The SIA ACS incorporates elements of highly regarded business improvement models such as The European Foundation for Quality Management Excellence Model and ISO 9001. It helps organisations to demonstrate their competency, training and continued investment in the improvement of their operational efficiency.
There are many advantages to being an ACS certified approved contractor, some of which include;
- Inclusion in the Register of Approved Contractors which is published on the SIA website.
- Authority to use, display and present the ACS Accreditation Mark on your own stationery, livery, marketing products and websites.
- Approval can provide access to tender opportunities that were previously out of reach, where ACS is a prerequisite.
Are The SIA Still Operating During The Pandemic?
The Security Industry Authority (SIA) have been doing everything they can during the coronavirus outbreak to ensure that they are able to support their customers.
They have been able to continue to process SIA licence applications, but there might be some changes and irregularities to the normal submission process.
Where part of the strictest lockdown measures has called for strict social distancing rules, for the safety of the staff and to help prevent the spread of the disease, many offices are having to close, and employees are working remotely from home which involves its own challenges. This means that physical documentation such as copies of proof of address, which can sometimes be required as part of the application, might not be able to be posted during periods when the SIA are unable to access or process any materials sent to them.
What Should I Do If I Need Help With My SIA Licence During This Time?
The SIA have put in place customer support teams that are operating throughout the pandemic and continuing to respond to enquiries within 48 hours. If you have a query, need help with an application, renewal or have a problem then they can be reached either through your online SIA account or the contact form on the SIA’s official website.
I Need To Post A Document To The SIA But The Offices Are Closed?
Although the SIA are still processing licence applications the offices remain closed at times and therefore are unable to process documentation. Instead of sending them via the post, send a digital scan or photograph of the documents that you have been asked to provide.
There is a requirement for the quality of the images so you must be sure that these are met in order for your application to progress, as any that aren’t clear enough or easy to read will not be approved and therefore could significantly hold up the process.
Is There A Delay In Processing Licensing Applications?
As of November 2020, the SIA was reporting no delays to the ‘decision-ready’ applications where all the required information has been received and they are at the ‘checks in progress’ stage. However, as the SIA’s process relies on receiving information from the applicants and at some point’s further information from other sources, there can be delays due to other organisations.
Are The SIA Offering Support To Approved Contractors During The Pandemic?
In November 2020, The SIA announced a range of measures they had put into to help support approved contractors during these tough times which included things such as the use of remote access.
In terms of making allowances for not being able to meet the normal expected ACS standards, the SIA understands the challenges that security companies and individuals are facing and work to be as realistic and pragmatic as possible in their approach to non-conformance, as long as they feel it is justified and that every effort has been made to meet the standards.
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