I often use the phrase “fully accredited” when performing my 60 second “Elevator” pitch when out networking or when I meet new contacts for the first time who want to know what we do. This begs the question, what do security companies need to have by way of accreditation and what other awards and memberships are there available? It also brings up the thorny question about which ones are really necessary and which are less so? Remember that all security companies are likely to be cautious about spending any profits eeked-out from the ridiculously low margins that exist in this industry.
Perhaps the best known accreditation is the SIA’s Approved Contractor Scheme. The ACS is based on an annual assessment and measures standards that are clearly relevant to security and the audit is carried out by UKAS Approved auditing bodies. The award is currently well regarded and despite the arrival of Business Licensing being on the horizon in 2014, we believe that this award will maintain its status as being a worthwhile accolade.
Considerably older is BS EN ISO 9001:2008 (to give it its’ full title) incorporating BS 7499, 7858, 7984 etc. This quality accreditation is audited, usually at the same time and by the same UKAS approved auditors as for the ACS scheme. This is the long-standing accreditation which speaks volumes about the quality process of the organisation audited and ensures that, at least to some degree, there are robust policies and procedures in place. This is a worthwhile accreditation in my opinion, though you should be aware that standards may vary, depending on the quality of the auditing body.
Perhaps the best known memberships/Associations for security companies are the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) and IPSA (International Professional Security Association). The BSIA membership represents many of the largest security companies in the UK and supports and lobbies for its’ members. IPSA has both company and individual memberships and sections for groups such as trainers. IPSA like the BSIA is involved in lobbying but also helps with education, training and support. Both organisations represent value for money, but with cash at a premium, many companies are likely to opt for the ACS and ISO first before joining these organisations.
There are other organisations within the security industry, but, as they are for companies involved in different areas, I am unable to comment reliably upon them myself. For instance, the Fire and Security Association (FSA) is for companies who design, install, commission, maintain and monitor electronic fire and security systems and the British Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC) works to promote the interests and regulate the activities of UK linked firms that provide armed defensive security services in countries outside the UK.
In our experience, some building companies and FM organisations are insisting on Safe Contractor membership for their contractors. My belief is that this really should not be necessary for contractors who already hold Quality Accreditations and are SIA ACS Approved Contractors. I understand their need to differentiate themselves as operating in a better way than their competitors, but for me, it is an unnecessary additional expense. Another trend is for tendering organisations to expect security companies to tick the ISO 14001 box for environmental systems. I believe this to be totally unnecessary and costly. Switching lights off, re-cycling paper and using economical vehicles are more or less the sum total of the possibilities. As I always say, we do that anyway!
Read the next article – Security Company Executives – Qualifications and Memberships