Coronavirus (Covid-19)

15 May 2020

A message from our Chief Executive

The challenge presented by Coronavirus has been an unprecedented one. One with tragic consequences for many individuals and their families. We must never forget that behind every story is a human being.

We know that many security officers are working on the frontline in the battle against this crisis. This week’s report on COVID-19 related deaths by occupation in England and Wales, published by ONS (the Office for National Statistics), highlights what it can mean to take on these risks and dangers. On behalf of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), I wish to convey our sincere condolences to the family and friends of all who have died, and particularly to people working in the private security industry.

While we do not know all of the stories of the 63 people identified in the ONS report, we do know that they were part of a profession that protects the public on a daily basis, and responds to the challenges presented by the current pandemic.

The ONS has pointed out that these figures are not adjusted to take account of other characteristics that might make a person vulnerable to the virus, such as ethnicity, place of residence or low pay. The ONS also states that two-thirds of the working age people who have died are men. We know from our own work that approximately 90% of SIA licence holders are men. While it might be too early to draw firm conclusions, these figures are a reminder of the importance of employers meeting their legal obligations to ensure the safety of their staff.

As you are all aware, the Prime Minister has announced the beginnings of the removal of the lock down. More people will be moving around, and more of your employees will be returning to the workplace.

The Government is clear that the responsibility for undertaking a proper risk assessment, and implementing the necessary measures, rests with the employer. We agree with this approach, because only the employer can understand the specific details on the ground. The Government has published a number of guides for those working in a variety of environments. They can be found here.

The guidance also refers to PPE (personal protection equipment) requirements. The current advice suggests that the added value from some measures is very limited outside of a clinical/medical setting. The guidance continues to highlight the overwhelming benefits of good hand hygiene, and the limited role of face coverings. We are not in a position to offer anything further to this advice, which is based on the latest available science.

As we begin to adjust to a “new normal” I believe that there are lessons we must learn from this pandemic. These are lessons for us as a regulator, and also for the industry that we regulate. Now is clearly not the time to conduct a review like this. However, when the time is right, we will consider what we have learnt, and apply changes. We will bring individuals and the industry – you – into our learning process. Your involvement, and your insights, are crucial. We will be listening. In the meantime: stay alert, control the virus and save lives.


17 April 2020

A message from our Chief Executive

Last week I updated you on some key initiatives we are rolling out to enable businesses to continue to operate while managing this crisis.

In response to the messages we receive from you, we are constantly exploring ways to support licence applicants and their employers. This week we have introduced changes to the rules for the issue of Licence Dispensation Notices (LDN) - a facility for approved contractors. We have also taken steps to reduce the need for those renewing their licence to have to go to the Post Office.

Details of these changes are outlined below.

To make it easier for approved contractors to quickly deploy staff in the current crisis, as of today:

  • A Licence Dispensation Notice (LDN) may be issued to an operative whose application is at Next Steps and has been paid for, rather than waiting until it reaches Checks in Progress.
  • The duration of LDNs has been extended from 10 to 20 weeks before needing to be renewed. This applies to both first and subsequent LDNs. We will keep these arrangements under review. More information on this change and guidance on the use of LDNs is available on our website.
  • Over the last few weeks a number of you have raised concerns about having to go to a Post Office as part of the licence renewal process. In response to this, we have changed our processes so that most people who are renewing their licence will not need to go to the Post Office to have their documents checked. If you are renewing your licence, you will receive instructions through the online account so please log into your account for guidance.

    We are currently working on further initiatives and I will share more information on this soon.

    Our office is still closed and so for the time being we ask that people do not send any documents to us. I want to assure you that any documents already in our possession are being stored safely and will be returned as soon as it is safe to do so.

    We are continuing to provide assistance through our customer support team. If you require help, please contact us through your online account or via the 'contact us' form on this website. We are responding to business enquiries within 48 hours, and to individuals as quickly as possible, usually within five working days.

    Please continue to follow the Government advice- this link opens in a new window

    Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

    Ian Todd
    Chief Executive


    9 April 2020

    A message from our Chief Executive

    During these challenging and difficult times I want to keep you up to date on how we are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. We know the significant impact that COVID-19 is having on the industry, and we are exploring initiatives to enable businesses to operate while managing this crisis.

    Key developments include:

    • Remote training pilot
      A key area of concern has been around training. We are piloting, under very carefully controlled conditions, remote training for some licence linked qualifications. We will be evaluating the pilot with a view to rolling this out more widely. This will be done only when we have assured ourselves that the systems of assessment are robust.
    • Approved contractor scheme assessments
      In response to concerns raised by approved contractors, we have extended all annual assessments by an initial 3 months. We will review the extension at the end of this period.
    • Approved contractor fee payment extension
      Approved contractors due to pay fees in the next three months will be given up to three months to pay instead of the normal 21 days. Any approved contractors wishing to take advantage of this should contact us via their business account.
    • Disclosure Scotland electronic applications
      For individuals in Scotland applying for a licence, I am pleased to advise that Disclosure Scotland have created an electronic application process in order to allow for disclosure applications to proceed. This allows licence applications to progress and decisions to be made as normal.

    Our customer support team continues to operate. If you require help, please contact us through your online account or via the ‘contact us' form on this website. We are continuing to respond to business enquiries within 48 hours, and responding to individuals as quickly as possible, usually within five working days. Please only submit one message, we will reply as soon as possible.

    We are continuing to process new licence applications made through businesses using our Licence Management service. The Post Office remains open to do this but with some temporary closures and limits to service. To find your nearest open branch and avoid unnecessary travel, please use the Post Office's branch finder at www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-finder.

    Please do not send any documents to the SIA as our office is closed. Any documents already in our possession are being stored safely and will be returned as soon as it is safe to do so, but this may be some time off in the current climate. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but the situation is currently beyond our control.

    We are continuing to work with colleagues in the Disclosure and Barring Service and with our system suppliers to implement online methods for identity verification, to the appropriate standard, without relying on physical documents where possible.

    As we enter the Bank Holiday weekend may I take this opportunity to wish you a happy and safe weekend.

    Please continue to follow the Government advice- this link opens in a new window

    Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

    Ian Todd
    Chief Executive


    1 April 2020

    As we continue to manage the uncertainty that Coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing across society, I am writing to assure you that we are doing everything possible to provide our best service and give support to the Private Security Industry at this time.

    Our customer support team continues to operate. If you require help, please contact us through your online account or via the ‘contact us’ form on this website. We are continuing to respond to business enquiries within 48 hours, and responding to individuals as quickly as possible, usually within five working days. Please only submit one message, we will reply as soon as possible.

    Today marks the start of our individual licence fee reduction for all sectors. The fee paid by applicants is down from £210 to £190. This applies to both new applicants and those renewing existing licences. Licence holders applying for an additional licence will pay 50% of the new reduced fee.

    We are processing new licence applications made through businesses using our Licence Management service. However, we are unable to deal with those requiring original documents. We are exploring all avenues available to us to process licence renewals within our legal remit. We will keep you informed of our progress.

    Please do not send any documents to the SIA as our office has been closed by our landlord. Any documents already in our possession will be stored safely and returned as soon as it is safe to do so, but this may be some time off in the current climate. We apologise for an inconvenience this may cause, but the situation is currently beyond our control.

    We are in regular contact with the Post Office. Many branches are still open for document checking purposes, and are continuing to process a significant number of applications. However, we are aware that a small number of Post Office branches have temporarily closed. In order to find your nearest open branch and avoid unnecessary travel, please use the Post Office’s branch finder at www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-finder.

    We are urgently looking at potential alternative methods for establishing identity in line with temporary Home Office guidance while maintaining compliance with UK Government identity checking standards. We are also seeking to minimise the need to attend the Post Office for renewals. Any alternative methods will need to be agreed with our partners.

    We are also actively working with the awarding organisations to develop a way for some licence linked qualifications to be delivered remotely within a framework of robust assessment. We will provide further details soon.

    Please continue to follow the Government advice- this link opens in a new window

    Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

    Ian Todd
    Chief Executive


    26 March 2020

    On Monday, 23 March the Prime Minister announced further instructions to the British public to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). His announcement can be viewed here- this link opens in a new window. It places further restrictions on when people can leave their homes and limits travel for work to essential roles only.

    I am able to confirm that the current definition of critical worker DOES include regulated (licence holding) security professionals, essential to national infrastructure, operating in roles under the 8 broad headings listed- this link opens in a new window. This status is only directly relevant to the ability to access the school and childcare systems at this time. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work - if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

    To prioritise pressure on the schools system, it does NOT extend to all licence holders. It is role dependent. The list may change over time.

    Government advice is to stay at home whenever possible. It is to keep your children at home whenever possible - even if you are a critical worker. If, and only if, you are undertaking an essential role, supporting the nation's COVID-19 response, which you can only do by accessing the school or childcare systems, should you do so as a critical worker.

    This definition covers, amongst other areas, security provision in hospitals; schools; social care; courts; government estate; supermarkets and the food supply chain; the transport network; national infrastructure and utilities. If you are providing essential security to a service which itself remains critical and functioning, which attracts critical worker status, then you are likely to be covered. If in doubt, check with whoever contracts for your services.

    Roles essential to supporting law and order, with the potential to reduce demand on policing, also meet the critical worker definition. This would include, amongst other areas, the guarding of empty or closed commercial, retail or office premises; the monitoring of similar through CCTV or other remote means; and the provision of alarm response centres including mobile units.

    If your role does not clearly fall under the headings above then you may still travel to work, if that work absolutely cannot be done from home. Your aim should be to stay at home whenever possible. If this is not viable then assess whether you can deliver more services remotely e.g. through CCTV. If a physical presence is required then you should seek to minimise the number of staff deployed to the lowest safe level and ensure social distancing is applied.

    Note that in any circumstance, critical worker or otherwise, the Prime Minister has been very clear that ensuring social distancing remains the responsibility of the employer.

    These are difficult questions in unprecedented times. They are not easy and no-one else can answer them for you. You will need to apply judgement, with the aim of minimising social contact where possible. The words to focus on are 'necessary', 'critical' and 'essential', otherwise please stay at home and minimise the transmission risks for the benefit of your health, your families, the general public and the NHS.

    Ian Todd
    Chief Executive


    23 March 2020

    Key worker status for the private security industry

    At this time I am able to confirm that the current definition of key worker DOES include regulated (licence holding) security professionals, essential to national infrastructure, operating in critical roles under the 8 broad headings listed- this link opens in a new window

    To prioritise pressure on the schools system, it does NOT extend to all licence holders. It is role dependent.

    Government advice is to stay at home whenever possible. It is to keep your children at home whenever possible – even if you are a key worker. If, and only if, you are undertaking a role critical to the nation’s COVID-19 response, which you can only do by accessing the school system and/or travelling, should you do so as a key worker.

    It seems to me that this definition covers, amongst other areas, security provision in hospitals; social care; courts; government estate; supermarkets and the food supply chain; the transport network; national infrastructure and utilities to name but a few. If you are providing essential security to a service which itself remains critical and functioning, which attracts key worker status, then you are likely to be covered. If in doubt, check with whoever contracts for your services.

    As such, not every role under health, education or any of the other headings will be covered. You will all need to apply judgement, with the aim of minimising social contact where possible. The words to focus on are ‘necessary’, ‘critical’ and ‘essential’, otherwise please stay at home and minimise the transmission risks for the benefit of your health, your families, the general public and the NHS.

    These are unprecedented times, which we will only get through by working together.

    Further updates will be available via this webpage when available.

    Ian Todd
    Chief Executive


    20 March 2020

    An update from our Chief Executive

    As the situation with respect to Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop at pace I have had to take a number of decisions to protect my own staff. These inevitably have consequences for our service delivery.

    As of today our office is temporarily closed until further notice, with all staff working remotely. I would like to pay tribute to all of them for their professionalism and commitment during this difficult time.

    At present our customer support team continues to operate. You should contact us through your online account or the contact us form on this website. We are continuing to respond to business enquiries within 48 hours and responding to individuals as quickly as possible. Currently most customer enquiries are responded to within five working days. Please only submit one message, we will reply as soon as possible.

    We are processing new licence applications made through businesses using our Licence Management service or where original documents are not physically required by us. Currently we understand that the Post Office remains open for document checking purposes, where necessary. We are exploring all avenues available to us to maintain and expedite licence renewals but this must be within our legal remit. We will keep you informed of our progress in this regard.

    If you are about to submit physical documents to support your application, STOP. You should not send any documents to the SIA at this time, as we are currently unable to access or process any materials sent to us. Any documents already sent will be stored securely but cannot be processed or returned at this time.

    We will continue to process Approved Contractor Scheme renewals with remote assessments but are not accepting new applications.

    Today, we will be sending tailored information to licence applicants and holders. Responses to frequently asked questions can be found here (PDF, 195 kb).

    With regards to essential or key worker status, I can assure you that we continue to liaise closely with the Home Office and Cabinet Office to ensure the importance of private security in keeping the country safe, secure and running smoothly is fully understood. However, at present private security workers are not specifically or explicitly listed. I will provide further updates on this as soon as I can.

    We are keeping the situation under constant review and will seek to resume full service delivery as soon as it is safe to do so.

    Ian Todd
    Chief Executive


    17 March 2020

    A message from our Chief Executive

    For licence applicants

    The coronavirus pandemic remains a rapidly evolving situation which I know is creating a huge amount of uncertainty for licence applicants.

    I can reassure you that we continue to monitor the situation closely and to follow official Government advice. We have substantially increased our remote and flexible working arrangements whilst prioritising our core activities. We remain committed to providing first class customer support. At this time there is no impact on the time it is taking us to process individual licence applications.

    If there are any changes we will communicate them clearly and transparently via the website and our social media channels.

    For private security businesses

    In many areas the requirements for security are reducing, whilst in others they are increasing. The deployable licensed population may not match the supply and demand requirements in the normal way for some considerable time.

    At this time there is no impact on the time it is taking us to process individual licence or approved contractor scheme applications. We remain in close contact with our partners and suppliers to understand any constraints on them and the impact this may have on us and, ultimately, on you. We are also working closely with the Home Office and other parts of Government to consider any special provisions or rule changes that may be required should the situation become even more challenging.

    We will not speculate about any potential changes in advance, so that there is no room for confusion. However, we will engage with key industry stakeholders in advance of any changes to ensure that our actions are reasonable, proportionate and address the specific risks identified. We are committed to striking the right balance between supporting the industry whilst maintaining public protection.

    These are unprecedented times and the situation is rapidly evolving, to which end we do not currently have further information about the status of the private security industry in the event of a more intensive lockdown scenario. As soon as we have clarity we will communicate it – we are actively seeking answers to these questions.

    For all of the private security industry

    Our operational performance remains strong. To ensure this remains the case I would urge you to avoid all unnecessary contact with us. If you do need to contact us, please do so via your online account. We will prioritise all incoming correspondence and respond as quickly as possible, and currently within our normal timescales.

    My personal commitment (and that of the entire SIA) remains to supporting you through this difficult time, whilst ensuring the health, safety and well-being of my own staff.

    Ian Todd
    Chief Executive