[LTR] Are you a Personal Assistant or Events Organiser who hires only major security companies for your events, based on the supposition and expectation that they guarantee the best service and value for money?

Or perhaps as a result of choosing one of the large security companies, you felt that you were badly let down by their class of employee and attitude?

If you answered yes to one or both of these, what you need to be asking yourself is; is it really so surprising that large security companies with access to thousands of SIA licence holding staff cannot necessarily guarantee the quality you expect or more importantly, your client expects?

If you were to listen to the SIA then the answer is yes, it is surprising, as they proffer the idea that holding an SIA licence is an assurance of having attained a high standard of industry competence but if you have the chance to speak to industry insiders or if you can gain access to security forums then you will find a very different answer.

When it comes to large security companies then it is very much a case of quantity over quality.

For you to understand fully why using the services of large security companies are not always the best option for you, then you need to know why the SIA was created and just exactly who they are.

According to SIA information, the security industry had the public perception for being associated with the criminal element. It was decided that it was in desperate need of cleaning up and regulation.

The Security Industry Authority or as it is referred to, SIA, is in charge of regulating the private security industry. They are an independent group who report to the Home Secretary, under the terms of the Private Security Industry Act 2001. Their task is to control the private security industry effectively for the purpose of reducing criminality, raising values and to identify quality service providers.

They have two key duties. One is the obligatory licensing of individuals undertaking designated activities within the private security industry; the other is to handle the voluntary Approved Contractor Scheme, which measures private security companies against independently assessed criteria.

What we have now as a result of SIA meddling are Personal Assistants and Events organisers who cannot see past the SIA smoke and mirrors and believe that all SIA licence holders are created equal and therefore do not believe it necessary to research the company or their staff backgrounds.

But let us go back and take issue with the main reason for the SIA coming into existence and ask; was that really the case?

Possibly this perception of criminality could have been applied to the lower end of the security spectrum, the doorman and site security markets but it certainly did not apply to the people working in Close Protection.

They were self regulating and fastidious about their reputations; only working with those they knew previously and were of the same high standards.

If you ever tried to break into the London bodyguard scene, famously known as The Circuit, then you will have an understanding of what I mean, it was nigh impossible. Maybe you think that this practice was not fair and would not allow for competition within the marketplace?

Tough because it worked and kept clients safe and protected.

You may now be asking yourself a couple of questions, why would I hire from one of the smaller security companies who are looking to supply more expensive Close Protection Officers for a job that I believe only requires those holding Door Supervisor qualifications and will therefore be cheaper, also can a larger company not supply the same type of security staff?

The answers are versatility and quality. You will find that a smaller security company has far greater control over their staff as it is more intimate and that their personnel will have a different mindset to those working for a corporation.

They will have an increased sense of pride in their work, they will be highly experienced and they will carry a level of professionalism that cannot be matched by mere numbers of staff.

Whilst you may baulk at the initial comparisons in price between Close Protection Officers and Door Supervisors, what you are getting is someone who is a class operator for no more than double the price.

In fact, what you are getting for your money is a far superior operator in all aspects, someone who will be able to carry out a varied amount of security related tasks over and above those that a door supervisor can and do so at a standard that is greater than the one stipulated by the SIA.

If you are still not convinced, then I wish you the very best of luck because when your cheaper alternative embarrasses your client and their event by robbing the patrons or by running when they see police sniffer dogs or when they start fights for their own personal gratification and yes we have witnessed all of these first hand whilst subcontracted to these large security companies, then do not say you were not educated in why not to hire them.

So just how do you know if you are hiring the right security company? The best way is to go back to the technique used before absolute belief in the SIA badge and it is through word of mouth; recommendations, testimonials and references from people who have had a great deal of satisfaction from using a particular company.

Do not forget that small security companies know that they are only as good as their last contract and will make absolutely sure that you get only the highest quality operator available because if they do not then they will be out of business very quickly.

Less is more...small is beautiful.

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