Security Buyers Guide

Since the introduction of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 and the Security Industry Authority (SIA) Approved Contractors Scheme, the security industry in the UK has experienced a huge transformation and is now a fully government regulated industry. Although the SIA itself will admit that there is still a long way to go before the industry acquires the desired professionalism the body hopes to achieve, it has significantly improved the image & perception of the security industry.

The licensing of security officers prohibits ex-cons and illegal workers gaining the necessary license for any security positions. Companies can now rest assured that security officers sent to their premises have had some form of training and background checks.

However, the act of purchasing security services and equipment can be a daunting task in terms of:

  • Buyers knowledge of the security industry
  • Type of security required
  • Cost
  • Service levels to be expected

This guide aims to give you a snapshot of what to look for when sourcing for security services.

Issues for Consideration

What is it you want to protect?

Buyers of security services must consider what is it that they want to protect and from whom? Do you intend on protecting staff, products or premises? Is the source of the threat from internal or external persons?

Why do they need protecting?

Whether in the retail or construction industry billions of pounds worth of products are stolen daily resulting in increased costs and reduced profits. All companies have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their employees especially when dealing with the public. Consequently, the answer to this question is imperative in order to put in place the most appropriate security measures.

What type of security is available?

  • Electronic security
  • Manned security officer
  • In-House or private contractor

Which method of deterrent is most cost effective?

Consideration of the above questions will determine the level and type of security requirements: physical or electronic security as opposed to manned security officers. Each option has to be fully costed to determine the return on investment. Taking into accounts the following: security officer: uniform, NI, hours worked, holiday and sick pay & sickness cover, breaks & training and type of equipment.


In-house security

The following must be taken into consideration when opting to use in-house security:

  • The vetting process: does your organization possess the capacity to vet and screen applicants to the BS7858 standard?
  • Experience: Does your security manager possess the requisite skill to recruit, train and manage the staff?
  • Suitability: Has your organization conducted a security audit/assessment? Is in-house security suitable for your security needs?
  • Training: what training programme do you have in place?
  • Licensing: Are all your security staff SIA licensed?
  • Cost: is it cost effective?


Private Security provider:

The following must be taken into consideration when opting to use a private security provider:

  • Company‚Äôs accreditation: Are they SIA Approved Contractors / ISO certificated?
  • Vetting process: Do they comply with the BS7858 vetting standard?
  • Quality Management System: Do they possess the following policies:
    Health & Safety, Environmental, Quality manual, Equal Opportunities, Staff Development, Recruitment & Screening and Corporate Social responsibility?
  • Trading history and reputation: How long has the company been established, what is the experience of the management team and what type of reputation do they have in the local community?
  • Membership of Trade Organisation: What trade organizations do they belong to?
  • Client base: recommendations and references?
  • Resources: What are their specialties, i.e. retail, construction, corporate or residential and location & coverage?
  • Mobile patrol and Alarm response: Response time
  • Professional officers: Dress code, communication skills, knowledge and training
  • Quality of equipment: Reliability of installed equipment
  • Return on Investment: Does the proposal reflect your expectations and requirements?
  • Contract: Fixed-term or flexible?

Adherence to British security standards: BS 7984:2008, BS 7960:2005, BS 7958:2005, BS 7939:1999, BS 7872:2002, BS 7858:2006, BS 7499:2007, BS 7112:1991, ISO 9160:1988, BS 5979:2007, BS 5544:1978, BS 5454:2000,

BS 5357:2007, BS 4783-1:1988, BS 4737-4.3:1988, BS 3621:2007

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