Special Edition of ACS Update on the ACS Review
ACS Update: ACS Review Special Edition

September 2018
Welcome to ACS Update the e-newsletter for SIA approved contractors.  This is a special edition devoted entirely to the ACS review and the changes we have made in response to feedback received during the consultation.  We hope you find it informative and useful. We welcome your feedback.
Summary of changes
Changes to the ACS Standard Criteria
Changes to self-assessment workbook
New eligibility 'fit and proper' criteria
Marketing the ACS & support for business

Your questions answered
This Autumn's ACS events


We launched the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) in March 2006 with a stated purpose ‘to protect the public and to maintain and improve standards in the private security industry’.

Since the launch of the scheme we have made incremental changes which have ensured the standard has been raised. Our evidence tells us that the scheme has achieved this aim and has had a transformational effect in driving up standards within the industry.

However, the world has changed a lot since 2006, so ensuring that the ACS remains fit for purpose and continues to drive improvement in the industry is paramount.

We consulted extensively during this review via online surveys, telephone interviews, workshops and focus groups. Levels of engagement were high and the response from the private security industry was that this felt like a genuine dialogue.

A number of themes emerged during the consultation which shaped our thinking on how we can strengthen and improve the ACS. These themes included:

  • the purpose of the scheme
  • eligibility criteria
  • promoting the scheme and raising buyers’ awareness of it
  • raising the standard
  • compliance with HMRC
  • arrangements for public sector contracts and future ownership of the scheme.

For more details of the themes raised during the consultation please read the Pye Tait report that was published in January.

The evidence from the consultation suggested that we did not need to make fundamental changes to the scheme, however it was clear from the responses there were opportunities to make  improvements.

The latest review took a root and branch look at the scheme and this review is now concluded. This special edition of ACS Update summarises the changes we will be making to the ACS following the review.

The changes we will be making are rooted in the feedback we received from the consultation.

All the changes will come into effect on 1 April 2019.

We have published a refreshed and new ACS standard. The new ACS standard will be mandatory from 1 April 2019. You have until this date to ensure you are ready to be assessed against all the indicators in the new self-assessment workbook.

We advise you to undertake a full business review at the earliest opportunity and make any changes to ensure on-going conformance to requirements.

Read the Pye Tait report

Summary of changes

We have listened to feedback and have made a number of key changes which we believe will strengthen the ACS:

  • The standard has been updated to place greater emphasis on service delivery. This will help businesses to drive improvement that further mitigates the risks and threats to customer assets. 
  • The Self-Assessment Workbook which contains the quality indicators that approved contractors must demonstrate have been met has been streamlined and made clearer and easier to navigate. To view the new self-assessment workbook and a Summary of the High-Level changes to the self-assessment workbook visit our approved contractor pages on our website.
  • We have revised the eligibility and 'fit and proper' criteria to ensure only sound, sustainable and credible companies are able to join the scheme.
  • We are revising our approach to how we market the scheme and provide support for businesses.

Since the review has been concluded we have achieved some early wins that will benefit the ACS.

  • The revised ACS is being endorsed publicly by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), giving a clear steer to buyers that approved contractors are preferred by police forces.
  • Crown Commercial Service, through whose commercial agreements £13bn of public sector procurement spend is channelled, have agreed that approval will be a mandatory requirement of becoming a supplier on Lot 1 A of their major Facilities Management Marketplace agreement.'  Phase 2 of Facilities Management Marketplace is due for release this month. 

Changes to the ACS standard criteria

To reflect a focus on service delivery, the second criterion of the ACS standard has been reworded and now places less emphasis on process.

The content under 'Corporate Social Responsibility’ has been embedded within ‘Strategy’. The current criterion on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ was viewed by some of the industry as feeling out of place and not necessarily describing the content (which includes counter-terrorism and environmental aspects). It was viewed as being more appropriate to position this content within Strategy.

The content of the ‘Results’ criterion has been embedded within each of the other seven criteria (and where appropriate new indicators developed where there are currently some gaps) to create a more cohesive document.

These changes have an impact on scoring as a consequence of there being fewer criteria in the new standard than in the current.

Read the High Level Summary of Changes for more information

Changes to the self-assessment workbook

We have listened to your feedback and have made the following changes which will strengthen the scheme:
  • We have made the new self-assessment workbook clearer and changed the design to make it easier to use.
  • We have removed negative statements (e.g. “no customer or consumer performance indicators have been established”), and removed the overlap between some of the incremental steps within the indicators.
  • This has resulted in a more streamlined presentation in the self-assessment workbook, which simply presents the ‘required achievement level’. For most indicators this level remains unchanged; feedback suggested that the level of demand of the ACS is challenging, but appropriate.
  • We have also brought in the glossary from the self-assessment workbook guide, so that the self-assessment workbook is more self-contained.
  • Where some indicators were identified as benefiting from additional detail, this has been brought in from the self-assessment workbook guide.
Visit the Self-Assessment Workbook

New eligibility 'fit and proper' criteria

The enhanced scrutiny will give clients and enforcement partners the assurance that they are working with some of the best run businesses within the industry. For example:
  • We are taking a firmer approach with PAYE. You must give justification and evidence as to why your staff and those you deploy are not PAYE. Given the nature of the private security industry, HMRC guidance indicates that the vast majority of licensable individuals supplied by private security businesses should be employees for both the purpose of tax and national insurance contributions. Thus benefitting from a contract of employment setting out employment rights securing better terms of employment and fewer workers are left exploited.
  • Businesses must supply at least 2 licensable operatives under a contract for security industry services.
  • There will be more checks on those who are associated with the business e.g. shadow directors
  • A lengthier period of demonstrable trading by a business applying to become an approved contractor.
'Get Approved' contains the details of  the 'fit and proper' and will be available soon.


We have opted not to alter the fee structure at this time and the existing headcount model will remain in place.

Fee calculation will be reviewed as a standalone area in the future along with other proposed models e.g. revenue based or headcount based on full time equivalent. You will be fully consulted and have the opportunity to feed into the review.


We have retained the current scoring system. This has the advantage of:
  • Protecting the investment you have made in the current scheme, through having a clearer read across to previous scores
  • Providing a basis for further continuous improvement of standards. 

Marketing the ACS and support for businesses

We are revising our approach to how we market the scheme, and provide support for businesses. We will:
  • Include more support, via a resource centre, for businesses and those wishing to meet or exceed minimum ACS requirements.
  • Ensure businesses are better supported during the application process, leading to less use of external assistance/consultants.
  • Provide support to approved contractors to drive their operational improvement.
  • Support approved contractors using our Licence Assist and Licence Management services.
Next steps

Your questions answered

We have tried to anticipate some the questions you may have. This document will be updated as required.
Find the answers to your questions here

This Autumn’s ACS Events

We are hosting a series of events to explain in detail the outcomes of the review of the ACS.

Be the first to know and understand the changes so that you can fully assess the impact it will have on your business in preparation for implementation of the changes in April 2019.

Each event will include a networking lunch.

Wednesday 3 October - Belfast
Tuesday 9 October - Glasgow
Tuesday 16 October - Bristol
Tuesday 23 October - Leeds
Thursday 25 October - Birmingham
Tuesday 30 October- London

Please note that due to high levels of interest, we have to limit individual companies to two delegates per event.

The agenda of the event will include:
Changes to the self-assessment workbook – In depth look at the new streamlined workbook including the updated indicators designed to give a clearer focus on service delivery.

Revised eligibility ‘fit and proper ‘criteria – Our new arrangements are designed to create a level-playing field for you and to protect the reputation of the scheme.

In addition to this we will be providing an update on:
The Skills and Qualifications Review:
Proposed changes to the licence-linked training for each sector and consideration of any refresher training for operatives. The creation of a new skills’ strategy to increase professional development for those working in the industry including career paths and apprenticeships.

SIA and Businesses working in partnership:
What is the next step as part of your business partnership with us?  Find out more about the newly available Licence Management service, the new Watchlist we are developing with enhanced capability based upon your feedback. Our customer service team will be on hand to provide one-to-one assistance and advice on how to get the most from all our services including your business account.

Spaces are limited so we encourage you all to sign up as soon as possible via our website.
Book your place at an ACS event near you
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All reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the information contained in this communication is accurate at time of release.
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