Choosing the right type of security guard for your business

Security guards are a common sight around shops and other business types.  They offer that sense of protection for both business owners and people visiting the business.  But did you know that not anyone can just apply to be a security guard?  And that there are different types depending on the license they have?

Why are security guards important?

The obvious reason that a business would have a security guard is to help protect the business.  They may be available during the day when the business is open and receiving customers.  Or they may be around on a night time to protect the business when it is most vulnerable.

But security guards are important for more reasons that just the basic security that they provide.

Crime prevention

One thing is certain – many criminals act on impulse and don’t plan what they do.  They act on the sudden urge to steal or damage something with little forethought involved.  However, by having a security guard in place, this can stop them in their tracks and therefore prevent the crime before it happens.  The presence of a trained guard in uniform makes them realise that their sudden idea is a bad one and they move off.

Handling crime

That said, there is the criminal element that is more prepared and plans what they will do.  This is where the security guard can help more actively.  Depending on their training and license, they may be able to record details of what has happened and contact the police.  In some situations, they may even be able to detain suspects.

Customer reassurance

For many customers, there is something reassuring about seeing a uniformed security guard around the business.  It assures them that they are less likely to encounter any criminals or that even irritable, troublemaker customers can be professionally handled.

Private Security Industry Act 2001 (PSIA)

The law that covers the work done by security guards is called the Private Security Industry Act 2001 (PSIA) and it regulates the licensing system as well as covering competency, training and quality standards.

It is against the law to work in licensable activities without the relevant license.  It is also illegal to break the conditions of the license such as not having the right training.  This is why many businesses turn to external providers for security, so they don’t have to handle the training requirements needed to obtain the right license.

Types of Security Guard

In the UK, we have two main types of security guards and both of these require a license from the Security Industry Authority or SIA.

Front line license

A front line license is needed if the guard will be undertaking ‘licensable activities’ apart from having key holder duties.  This kind of license is an actual plastic card that the security guard is required to wear while carrying out their duties, which are subject to the license conditions.

Some examples of the kind of roles that require a front line license include:

  • Sole traders, contractors or company directors who carry out designated licensable activities themselves in connection with their business
  • Employees who carry out the designated activities in connection with their employer’s business
  • Anyone contracted to supply these services to a company
  • Anyone performing door supervision or vehicle immobilisation
  • Anyone immobilising vehicles and charging a fee to release them including landowners and their staff or volunteers

Non-front line license

The other type of security guard is termed a non-front line license and is for someone who manages or supervises people engaged in licensable activities but doesn’t actually carry them out personally.  The license comes in the form of a letter and also includes key holder activities.

Some examples of non-front line license roles include:

  • Supervisors of security guards that have a front line license
  • Supervisor of agency workers who have a front line license and carry out designated activities
  • Anyone who supervises or employs door supervisors or vehicle immobilisers

What are licensable activities?

Another way to understand what type of security guard you need for your business is to look at the duties they will be carrying out.  A range of activities are classed as ‘licensable’ and therefore someone with an SIA license is the only one that can carry them out.

Manned guarding

The most common type of role for a security guard is termed as manned guarding.  This would include someone whose job is to:

  • Guard premises against unauthorised access, damage or disorderly behaviour
  • Guard property against being damaged, destroyed or stolen
  • Guarding a person or people against injuries or assault

These roles involve a combination of a physical presence carrying out some kind of patrol or guarding duties to deter criminals from some kind of activity.

Door supervision for licensed premises

A guard needs a license if they are acting as door supervision for licensed premises such as a pub, restaurant or night club.  This involves protecting the property and the people inside to make sure no criminal activity takes place.

The only time that the license may not be required is if the activity only involves the use of CCTV equipment.

Public space surveillance (CCTV)

If guards are using a public space surveillance CCTV system to monitor a property or area, then they will need to have the relevant license.  This involves them monitoring the activities or members of the public or in private places and also identifying a particular person.

Finding the right people

The nature of the security guard you need depends on the role they will be undertaking, and the work involved.  Here at Able Enforcement, we offer fully trained security guards to handle a wide range of roles, so you don’t need to worry about having the right license for the duties involved.

Our staff are fully trained in line with the latest regulations and also in relevant additional areas such as handcuffing with restraint techniques.  Many are retired police officers, and all receive our in-house training to ensure the highest standards.

If you or your business needs the assistance of a specialist security team for a contentious situation or event, call us on 0345 366 0000email us or fill in our contact form.

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