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Home Employers Building trust and confidence: The importance of hiring licensed security professionals.
Building trust and confidence: The importance of hiring licensed security professionals.

Building trust and confidence: The importance of hiring licensed security professionals.


We all know by now that using unlicensed security officers, for any activity that is covered by the Private Security Industry Act, is illegal, but it still goes on. Just a brief look at the social media feeds of the Security Industry Authority provides an endless list of companies that have been prosecuted for hiring unlicensed staff.

Why does it still go on?

There is a grave shortage of licensed security officers in the UK. Ask any employer how difficult recruitment is these days. Those licensed officers that remain are snapped up rapidly and can command increasingly high pay rates.

This causes problems for some companies that need officers rapidly for a new assignment or to cover gaps. Far too many bosses will ring a mate, or a mate of a mate, who normally decorate houses or drive for Uber for a living, offering them the gig, cash in hand to make it attractive.

Pubs and clubs are probably the worst offenders as an unexpected lack of door supervision can be disastrous for a venue. Whenever you see a door supervisor, quite possibly tucked away from the eyes of the Police or authorities inside a venue, failing to display a valid SIA license, quite possibly it’s because they haven’t got one.

Those that agree to perform these unlicensed door roles, on occasion, are not fully aware of the Private Security Industry Act and the illegality of their work. The venue management however can attempt no such defence, as this knowledge is strongly highlighted during alcohol licence training.

The Dangers.

Hiring unlicensed security personnel for whatever purpose, is not only illegal, but there is also a far greater danger.

SIA licensed officers are extensively trained in emergency procedures, safe de-escalation of conflict situations, physical intervention, and now finally, first aid. It is one of the main reasons that licensed staff must be used.

In an emergency situation, or when there is a problem on site, an individual that uses unsafe techniques to deal with a violent situation, has no idea how to deal with a badly injured punter or member of the public, or worst of all, has no idea what to do in a fire, or terrorist incident, is potentially a danger to themselves and everyone around them.

When things go disastrously wrong, an employer that has knowingly used unlicensed security is quite possibly going to spend a considerable time in prison.

When the muck hits the fan, the press always seem to highlight the use of unlicensed security staff, whether relevant or not. This can lead to immense reputational damage for the employer, and if the site is a licensed venue, the Police may well apply for a suspension, removal, or alteration of an alcohol license, in many cases causing the death of a business.

Use of bona fide licensed operatives provides assurance that unusual or potentially dangerous situations can be dealt with correctly, rapidly, and professionally. These officers know how to do the right thing to ensure the best possible outcome when a problem arises. They will liaise with the emergency services, confidently instruct staff, customers, and members of the public, in what they need to do, and will be able to provide effective advice and guidance for a site’s management and staff. Any injury can be assessed and correct first aid applied, and accurate information conveyed when summoning, and on the arrival of, ambulance responders.

Professional licensed security personnel are also trained to understand the law, what constitutes an offence, and how to deal with them. This knowledge can identify and route out criminal activity on site. These officers can also provide intelligence and high quality eyewitness evidence for Police.

Where a “dodgy” security officer is operating in a more corporate setting, they will not understand Heath & Safety legislation and may miss potential hazards that should have been reported and dealt with. They may have little knowledge of access control systems and procedures and not have a clue on how to legally and efficiently search a person, their property, or a vehicle.  


The general public already have a low opinion of private security industry workers. A recent survey had security officers ranked alongside traffic wardens as one of the most poorly regarded jobs. Untrained and unlicensed security officers can only reinforce this image.

Professional trained and fully licensed personnel can enhance your corporate image, ensure legal compliance and fulfilment of your duty of care, and if the worst happens, make sure that there is the best possible outcome.

Don’t take a chance that you’ll get away with using unlicensed staff, here and there. The courts are full of employers with that mindset. The benefits of always hiring properly, are many. The consequences of taking an attractive shortcut, can be catastrophic. Don’t risk it.


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