Understanding the Security Industry Authority (SIA)



The SIA is a non-departmental public body created in 2003 in line with the 2001 Private Security Industry Act and is charged with the responsibility of regulating the UK's private security industry (Security Industry Authority 2014) The SIA is responsible for establishing standards and guidelines for the training of close protection operatives in the UK. The UK parliament passed a bill into law in March 2006 that made it mandatory for persons interested in engaging in Close Protection Operations to obtain a licence with the SIA


Duties and Responsibilities

There are two key responsibilities of the SIA. First, it is tasked with the duty of compulsory licensing of persons involved in selected activities in the private security industry. Secondly, the SIA oversees a wilful Approved Contractor Scheme whose role is to assess private security suppliers relative to independently evaluated criteria (Security Industry Authority 2014).


SIA Licensing

As earlier mentioned, the mandatory licensing of persons involved in selected sectors in the private security industry is one of the key responsibilities of the SIA.  The activity that the person in question is involved in, as well as the role that they play, will be used as the criteria for determining if such a person needs a licence, or not (Security Industry Authority 2014). Schedule 2 and Section 3 of the amended version of the 2001 Private Security Industry Act have given further details on this. Partaking in a licensable activity with no licence is deemed as a criminal offence and in case the individual involved is found guilty, he/she could end up paying a maximum fine of £ 5000 and/or serve a 6 months imprisonment.

Licensable Activities:

The 2001 Private Security Industry Act has categorised the following activities as licensable:

·                Close Protection (CP)

·                Security Guarding (SG)

·                Cash and Valuables in Transit (CVIT)

·                Vehicle Immobilisation (VI)

·                Door Supervision (DS)


Close Protection

Individuals involved in the provision of close protection operative services need to have an SIA licence. Otherwise, they risk committing a criminal offence by engaging in close protection operative activities if they lack an SIA licence. However, Section 4(4) of the 2001 Private Security Industry Act gives exemptions to certain companies or employers and as such, these are not liable for prosecution.  The only time when an exemption can be granted is in case the SIA has already given the company or employer approved to engage in close protection operative activities an approved contract status (Security Industry Authority 2014).  In addition, they are also required to meet other conditions stipulated under Section 4(4).  In case an individual meets conditions stipulated under section 4(4), then they are not liable to the offence contained under the 2001 Private Security Act.  In order for section 4 of the 2001 Private Security Act to hold, all the conditions stipulated here must be met as below:

A. The security operative in question should be undertaking security activities in their capacity as partner, employee, or director

B.  They need to have already made an application for the SIA licence

C. The security operative should have applied for an SIA licence that will enable it to undertake the security activities stipulated in (a) above. In addition an application for such a licence should not have been refused previously (Security Industry Authority 2014).

D. The employer or company in question should currently be registered and approved to offer its services to the security industry, in line with the 2001 Private Security Industry Act (section 14); and

E. The employer or company in question should have been authorised by the SIA to use partners, employees, or directors whose applications are being processed, to undertake the security activities stipulated in (a) above

       A close protection operative is charged with the responsibility of seeing to it that their clients are safe always, by enabling them to undertake their daily routine.  An individual seeking an SIA licence in close protection is often required to provide evidence of having received the necessary training to the correct level. Training often takes a total of 150 hours whereby one is required to undertake two training modules, as well as pass an exam (Security Industry Authority 2014).  This course takes a total of 14 days and its contents have been ratified by the SIA, in line with the stipulated specifications.  The core areas during the training programme include risk and threat assessment, responsibilities and duties of a close protection operative, operational planning, surveillance awareness, venue security, incident management, and interpersonal skills, among others.

       Although the SIA has not stipulated any formal entry requirements for individual certification to work as close protection operatives, learners are often required to demonstrate proficiency in the English Language, in addition to an ability to work at level 2 and above.

       The SIA requires the centres where learners seeking SIA certification to ensure that each learner possess an authentic first aid qualification (Ashley Commercial College 2013) . the SIA recognises the following two first aid awards:

·       A 3-day First Aid at Work course that has been approved by the HSE

·       A 30 hours FPOS (First Person on Scene) Intermediate Award that has been approved by IHCD/Edexcel (Security Industry Authority 2014).


Cost of the SIA Licence

       The SIA grants a three-year licence. The company or employer in need of this licence has to first pay a non-refundable application fee of £ 200 to go towards the processing of the application (Security Industry Authority 2014).   However, one can also claim a tax relief of £ 44 against the licence fee paid.



       The SIA was formed in 2003 in keeping with the 2001 private Security Industry Act which requires that individuals keen on engaging in close protection operations in the UK to get a licence before engaging in such an activity.   The SIA was formed under the office of the Home Secretary to oversee the development of standards and guidelines for training close protection operatives in the UK, as well as warding off licences. Usually, a non-refundable fee of £ 200 is required to get an SIA licence. Close Protection Operatives without licenses run the risk of being fined a maximum of £ 5000 or serving 6 months in prison, or both, if found guilty. Beside close protection, other licensable activities that the SIA is involved in include door supervision, security guarding, and vehicle immobilisation, among others.


Reference List

Ashley Commercial College 2013. IQ Level 3 Certificate in Close Protection (QCF). [online]. Available at: http://acc.ac/sia-close-protection-training-course Accessed 24 October 2014  Security Industry Authority 2014. Close Protection. [online]. Available at:  http://www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/pages/licensing-close-protection.aspx

Accessed 24 October 2014

Security Industry Authority 2014. Close Protection Training. [online]. Available at: http://www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/pages/training-cp.aspx

Accessed 24 October 2014

£ 10 .00