FAQs - Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS)
What is the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS)?
The Private Security Industry Act (PSIA) 2001 requires the SIA to establish a system of inspection for providers of security services, under which those organisations who satisfactorily meet the agreed standards may register as approved, and may advertise themselves as such.
The objective of the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) is to raise industry performance standards to the benefit of all with an interest in security services, including purchasers, employees, shareholders and the general public.
The ACS contributes towards the SIA's Mission statement: To help protect society by collaboratively developing and achieving high standards in the private security industry.
An outcome of the Scheme is to enable security firms to operate more efficiently in a post-licensing environment by providing a mechanism for them to deploy staff waiting to receive a licence, in accordance with Section 4 paragraph 4 of the PSIA 2001.
Can I apply to become an approved contractor?
The scheme only covers those parts of the industry that are regulated by the SIA and legislated for by the Private Security Industry Act 2001.
ACS approval is open to all private security companies operating in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland providing the following licensable services: Manned guarding, which includes:
- Cash and Valuables in Transit
- Close Protection
- Door Supervision
- Public Space Surveillance (CCTV)
- Security Guard
- Immobilisation, restriction and removal of vehicles
- Key Holding
Is the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) compulsory?
No. The scheme is voluntary and represents an independent endorsement of the quality standards within an organisation. The ACS aims to help participating companies demonstrate the added value that they can deliver to their customers.
How long does ACS approval last?
Approval lasts for a maximum of three years and is subject to annual re-verification. Approved contractors are expected to maintain the required standards during this period. Approval may be withdrawn if standards are not maintained (i.e. they are found to have fallen below the required level) or if the company breaches the ACS Terms and Conditions of Approval.
How long will my ACS application take to process?
Providing that there are no complications we expect to process applications within 60 working days (roughly equivalent to three calendar months). However, many applications do have complications which mean that we or the applicant must undertake further work. This may result in longer processing times.
When can a Licence Dispensation Notice (LDN) be used?
LDNs can be issued once an approved contractor receives a letter from us explaining the rules of the dispensation scheme. Only approved contractors can issue LDNs and they must maintain a register of every LDN issued. An operative's first two LDNs may be issued at the discretion of the approved contractor (LDNs expire after eight weeks); the SIA must give permission for any further LDNs.
Operatives can only work under an LDN provided that their company is approved for the relevant sector; the required training has been completed and we are processing their application.
How will the SIA ensure that only 15% of employees are working on LDNs?
Approved contractors deploying employees under LDNs are required to establish a robust process for such deployment. This must include a record of the number and identity of individuals so deployed. The SIA will spot check this record applying any sanctions as necessary. The number of LDNs issued is also checked during verification visits.
Who approves ACS assessors?
Each assessor has to be trained and complete a satisfactory witnessed assessment before they can become a registered ACS assessor.
Initially one trained assessor from each assessing body was witnessed by the SIA carrying out training and/or assessing activities. Those assessors that successfully carried out training and assessing activities became registered tutors and assessors with the ability to witness other assessors. Those that carried out successfully only assessing activities became registered assessors.
The SIA will periodically carry out additional witnessed assessments as part of its ongoing Quality Assurance activities.