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Security Guard Rules and Regulations

November 19, 2023

Unsure of the laws governing UK security guards? This guide provides a comprehensive overview of key regulations, licensing requirements, training standards and conduct codes. Gain invaluable insights on operating compliantly as a security professional in the UK. We cover everything from mandatory SIA licensing to prohibited activities, standards of behaviour and enforcement actions for violations. This vital knowledge helps guards avoid legal pitfalls and maintain credibility.

Quick Answer: SIA sets rules for 328,000 UK security guards including mandatory licensing, 128+ hours initial training, 18 hours annual CPD, standards of conduct, prohibited activities, and inspections to enforce compliance. Breaches can result in warnings, fines, licence suspensions or revocations.

Key Duties and Responsibilities of Security Guards

Access Control

Security guards play a vital role in controlling access to restricted areas and protecting people, property and information. Operating security systems and equipment at access points, security guards verify the identity and authorisation of anyone seeking entry against access policies and control procedures. By properly allowing authorised access and denying unapproved access, security guards serve as a human layer of access control that complements mechanical systems.

At entryways, security guards inspect credentials and confirm that entrants match their identity credentials. For employees or visitors with appropriate access permissions, the guard permits entry once identities are properly verified. For those lacking credentials or authorisation, the guard politely denies entry and directs the person to appropriate contacts for arranging proper access. Guards must remain vigilant in detecting forged credentials or signs someone is attempting unauthorised entry via tailgating or other means.

Incident Response

Security guards serve on the frontlines in detecting and responding to security incidents or emergencies quickly and effectively. Guards conduct regular patrols of their assigned areas, remaining alert for hazards, criminal activity and other concerning incidents. When an incident is detected, the guard should promptly contact supervisors, emergency responders and/or police as appropriate depending on the situation.

In responding to incidents, security guards must act decisively while following proper protocols. In situations potentially involving violence or criminal acts, the guard’s role is to observe and report rather than directly intervene. For emergencies such as fires, accidents or health crises, guards take reasonable emergency response actions like evacuating the area, administering basic first aid and contacting emergency responders. Guards provide emergency responders with critical details on the situation when they arrive.

Record Keeping

Thorough record keeping and documentation is a central duty for security guards. Guards maintain logs of all activities occurring during their shifts. This includes any incidents responded to, persons given access or denied entry, emergency actions taken and other noteworthy events. Keeping proper logs provides a timeline of events that supports effective security monitoring and investigation of any incidents.

Some facilities employ electronic systems for logging guard activities. Where traditional paper logs are used, guards must clearly record details in an organised, legible fashion. Supervisors should review logs regularly to identify any issues or suspicious patterns. Accurate record keeping demonstrates a guard’s attentiveness and helps the facility maintain proper security protocols.

Patrols and Monitoring

Conducting regular patrols of their assigned post is fundamental to a security guard's duties. Patrols aim to identify risks, deter criminal activity and detect any suspicious individuals or activities. Guards typically follow set patrol routes and schedules while remaining vigilant for anything out of the ordinary. Route patterns and timing should vary to avoid becoming predictable.

Patrol duties require guards to thoroughly inspect facilities, peripheries and designated external areas. Guards check for hazards like leaking pipes, damaged fencing or faulty equipment. Monitoring for and reporting risks allows timely mitigation and prevents escalation into larger problems. For guards monitoring video feeds or alarm systems, attentive surveillance and prompt response to alerts is critical.

Emergency Response

Security guards serve as first responders in site emergencies and must be well-trained in emergency protocols. In medical emergencies, guards provide basic first aid while awaiting paramedic arrival. For fires, guards activate alarm systems and assist with safe evacuation. Guards guide evacuees towards exits and accounting areas, assist mobility-impaired persons, and prevent re-entry until the all-clear.

Guards receive training to follow established emergency response and evacuation plans. Coordinating with supervisors, guards may shut down critical systems or utilities. Guards safeguard company assets during evacuations while avoiding risks or delays in exiting. Guards brief first responders on the situation when they arrive to contain emergencies.

Crowd Control

For facilities hosting events or experiencing high visitor volumes, security guards play an important crowd control role. Using barriers and cordons, guards can create orderly queues and direct the smooth flow of people between different areas. This prevents congestion and undue risks from overcrowding. Guards station at key points to provide directions and manage the pace people enter or exit events.

For especially large events, multiple guards are assigned to direct attendees, prevent bottlenecks and watch for crowd-related risks. If a crowd becomes unruly, guards focus on safely dispersing people. The aim is to peacefully de-escalate the situation. Guards station near exits can facilitate rapid evacuation if an emergency evacuation is needed.

Secure Handling of Valuables

Facilities that handle cash, sensitive records or other high-value items rely on security guards to provide secure handling. Guards oversee the receipt, counting and secure storage of cash and valuables. When making bank deposits or other transfers, guards ensure valuables are double-counted, logged and safely secured during transport. Guards may also escort staff handling valuables as added security.

Strict protocols govern a guard’s direct handling of valuables for transfers, storage or other purposes. Following verifications and counting processes, guards securely store items and maintain chain of custody records. Guards must demonstrate trustworthiness and excellent judgement to be granted such responsibilities. Adherence to the facility’s cash and valuables handling procedures is mandatory.

Customer Service

While guarding and securing facilities, security guards also provide customer service by presenting a friendly face, giving directions and answering questions. Guards stationed near entrances often serve as the first point of contact, welcoming visitors, employees and deliveries. Providing excellent customer service enhances the facility’s reputation even as the guard conducts core access control duties.

Guards give directions to offices, restrooms and other destinations when asked by visitors unfamiliar with the site layout. For frequent questions, keeping printed directions handy helps guards efficiently assist more visitors. Guards may need to verify someone’s authorisation to enter certain areas prior to giving directions. A professional, courteous demeanor reflects well on the facility’s security personnel.

Security guards have a diverse range of duties essential to maintaining effective access control and security while also providing customer service. Key responsibilities include managing access, conducting patrols, responding to incidents and emergencies, keeping meticulous records, safely handling valuables, controlling crowds and assisting visitors and employees. With proper training, attentiveness and good judgement, guards serve as a human layer of protection and hospitality.

SIA Security Guard Licensing Requirements

Licenses Covered by SIA

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) serves as the governing and regulatory body overseeing private security services in the United Kingdom. Among the key licence types issued and enforced under the SIA's authority are the Frontline Licence, Public Space Surveillance Licence, Vehicle Immobiliser Licence, Close Protection Licence and Door Supervisor Licence.

The Frontline Licence is the core credential required for security guards and other frontline private security personnel. Obtaining this license confirms mandatory training is completed in areas relevant to a guard's duties. The Public Space Surveillance Licence applies to those involved in monitoring public spaces via CCTV or other surveillance means. Training focuses on appropriate surveillance practices and privacy considerations.

Personnel installing and operating vehicle immobilising devices like wheel clamps and barriers must hold the Vehicle Immobiliser Licence. The Close Protection Licence is needed for bodyguards and others providing close personal protection services, covering skills like evacuation protocols, diversionary tactics and other protective methodologies. The Door Supervisor Licence is mandatory for bouncers and personnel controlling access to venues and events. Relevant training includes defusing aggressive situations, properly ejecting patrons and other access control competencies.

Criteria and Eligibility

To be eligible for any security licence administered by the SIA, applicants must meet certain standards and criteria. The key requirements include:

  • Age - Applicants must be aged 18 or older to qualify for SIA licensing.
  • Criminal Checks - Thorough criminal record and background checks are conducted on all applicants. Serious or recent criminal offenses may disqualify applicants.
  • Right to Work - Applicants must demonstrate the legal right to work in the UK according to Home Office regulations.
  • Health - Applicants must meet appropriate fitness standards related to their licence duties. Certain health conditions may require further medical evaluations.
  • Training - The completion of necessary qualifications and training is mandatory for each licence type. All training must be via an approved provider recognised by the SIA.

Applying, Renewing and Checking Licenses

To obtain a new SIA licence, applicants must complete the necessary training via an approved provider and pass any required assessments for the specific licence type. An application form is then submitted to the SIA with the proper fee payment. The SIA conducts intensive vetting including criminal record, right to work and background checks. If approved, the SIA issues the licence specifying its start and expiration date.

SIA security licences must be renewed every 3 years through a streamlined renewal process. Refresher courses and training updates may be required prior to renewal for some licence types. The renewal application and fee payment must be submitted to the SIA before the existing licence expires. Renewal vetting includes another criminal background check. If approved, the SIA reissues the licence for a new 3 year period of validity.

Employers have an important duty to verify that guards in their employ hold a valid, current SIA licence. They can check licence status through the SIA's online licence checker which requires the licence number. Visually examining the physical licence card to validate its security features and expiry date also provides verification. The SIA's Licence Check smartphone app offers another option, allowing users to scan the QR code printed on the licence cards.

By adhering to SIA licensing protocols and requirements, security guards demonstrate they have obtained the necessary training, vetting and qualifications for their duties under each licence type. Regularly renewing licences and validating status ensures guards maintain compliance over time while protecting their eligibility to continue servicing the industry.

Overview of SIA Security Guard Licensing Requirements:

Licence TypeDescriptionTraining HoursValidity PeriodRenewal Period
Frontline LicenceRequired for security guards and other frontline private security personnel.128+ hours3 yearsEvery 3 years with refresher training
Public Space Surveillance LicenceFor those involved in monitoring public spaces via CCTV.Additional 18 hours3 yearsEvery 3 years with updates on privacy laws
Vehicle Immobiliser LicenceFor personnel installing and operating vehicle immobilising devices.Specific to role3 yearsEvery 3 years with updates on regulations
Close Protection LicenceNeeded for bodyguards providing personal protection services.192+ hours3 yearsEvery 3 years with advanced refresher training
Door Supervisor LicenceMandatory for bouncers controlling access to venues and events.132+ hours3 yearsEvery 3 years with conflict management updates

Training and Qualification Requirements

Minimum Training Standards

To obtain the basic SIA frontline licence required for security guards, candidates must complete a minimum level of accredited training. The core training content covers learning outcomes across three main categories:

  • Working within the Private Security Industry - Covers topics like powers and responsibilities, standards of behaviour, emergency procedures and health & safety. Helps guards understand the legal and ethical framework governing their role.
  • Working as a Security Officer - Focuses on core knowledge and skills including patrols, access control, incident response, fire safety, and customer care. Prepares guards for basic duties.
  • Conflict Management - Vital training on defusing tense situations, remaining calm under pressure, use of communication skills, behaviours to avoid, procedures if conflict escalates, and personal safety.

The minimum time requirement set by SIA for this training is 128 hours, typically spread over several weeks of classroom and practical learning. Assessment includes both multiple choice exams and scenario-based tests to evaluate competence. Training must be delivered by an SIA-approved provider to lead to formal qualification. Refresher training is recommended prior to licence renewal.

Additional Specialist Training

While the core frontline guard training provides a foundation, additional specialist training is essential for guards taking on more advanced roles. Some key examples requiring tailored qualifications include:

CCTV Monitoring - As well as core training, guards monitoring surveillance systems complete an additional 18 hours of CCTV-specific instruction on privacy laws, image capture, recording procedures and other aspects of professional monitoring.

Close Protection - Bodyguards and personal protection officers undergo a minimum of 192 additional training hours covering risk assessment, threat response, protective formation tactics, evasive driving, emergency first aid and more.

Door Supervision - Doormen and bouncers require an extra 132 hours of training focused on venue safety, defusing conflict, search procedures, ejecting disorderly patrons, incident recording and dealing with drug misuse on premises.

Guards should hold the specialist licence matching their duties and have undergone the additional accredited training hours and content needed to competently and legally perform their role. Refresher courses on latest practices are advised.

Continuing Professional Development

SIA standards require licensed security guards to complete a minimum of 18 hours Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training annually. This develops and maintains up-to-date knowledge and skills related to their role.

CPD training should cover new industry regulations, technologies, health and safety, counter-terrorism, cyber threats and other evolving topics to refresh a guard's core competencies. Training can be via short online modules, seminars, supervised study and other flexible methods.

Guards are responsible for maintaining their own CPD logs and records over time as evidence of regular ongoing learning and adherence to SIA requirements. Security companies can provide CPD opportunities or support external training requests. Keeping skills current improves a guard's ability to perform duties safely, legally and to industry standards.

Achieving the SIA frontline guarding licence requires meeting minimum training standards covering core knowledge, conflict management and private security regulations. Specialist duties then demand additional accredited training focused on competencies for that specific role. Ongoing CPD training maintains and enhances a guard's skills over time in an ever-changing threat landscape. Proper qualifications demonstrate a guard's commitment to professional excellence.

Standards of Behaviour for Security Guards

Professional Conduct Requirements

Security guards in the UK must adhere to stringent standards of professional conduct while carrying out their duties as stipulated under the SIA’s Standards of Behaviour. Maintaining professionalism requires guards to perform their role with honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect for others.

Guards must avoid any conduct that would undermine public trust in the security profession. This means refraining from actions like accepting bribes, falsifying incident reports, disclosing confidential information, or abusing their authority. SIA standards also forbid behaviours like working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol which impair judgement.

On duty, guards should remain composed under pressure, de-escalate tense situations through non-confrontational communication and use reasonable force only as a last resort. Negligence, dereliction of duty or gross misconduct contravening SIA standards can result in licence suspension or revocation.

Conflicts of Interest

SIA standards strictly prohibit security guards from acting in ways that incur an actual or perceived conflict of interest. For example, a shopping mall guard also working part-time for a retailer in the mall could face competing interests. The guard’s security oversight responsibilities may clash with their obligations toward their retailer employer.

Guards must never misuse their position or authority for unethical personal gain or advantage. For instance, a warehouse guard providing smugglers access to steal goods for a cut of the profits violates the public trust invested in security roles. Any potential or actual conflicts of interest must be disclosed to employers immediately.

Discrimination and Human Rights

Security guards interact with a broad cross-section of the public and must demonstrate equality and respect for human rights. The SIA Standards of Behaviour forbid guards from discriminating based on characteristics like race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

Harassment or intimidation by security personnel infringes on human rights protections under UK laws. For example, targeting an individual for extra scrutiny due to their ethnicity could constitute racial profiling and discrimination.

Guards must exercise their duties in an ethical, non-discriminatory manner – for instance, only limiting a specific patron’s venue access if they present a substantive threat, rather than stereotyping. Reasonable accommodations should be made to facilitate equitable treatment of disabled persons.

However, guards also cannot exceed their lawful authority and violate others’ rights in the course of duty. Improper detention, excessive use of force and infringing on protected freedoms of movement, expression or assembly contravene SIA standards.

Upholding fairness, dignity and equality demonstrates integrity and professionalism on the guard’s part while complying with UK laws and values. SIA licensing requires understanding and applying human rights principles through ongoing ethical situational training.

SIA Standards of Behaviour and Prohibited Activities for Security Guards:

Standard/ActivityDescriptionConsequences of Breach
Professional ConductGuards must act with honesty, integrity, and respect.Licence suspension or revocation
Conflicts of InterestAvoid actions that present a conflict of interest.Disciplinary action or dismissal
Discrimination and Human RightsMust respect equality and human rights in all interactions.Legal action and licence revocation
Intoxication and Substance AbuseProhibited from working under the influence of substances.Suspension, fines, or loss of licence
Exceeding AuthorityMust operate within the lawful extent of their powers.Fines, prosecution, or licence revocation
ConfidentialityMust not disclose confidential information without authorization.Fines, legal action, or licence revocation
Equipment UseRestricted use of certain equipment like handcuffs or batons.Fines, licence suspension, or revocation
Surveillance and RecordingMust follow laws on surveillance and respect privacy.Fines, legal action, or licence revocation

Prohibited Activities for Security Guards

Intoxication and Substance Abuse

Security guards are strictly prohibited from carrying out duties while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or illegal drugs. Remaining clear-headed and focused is essential for guards to respond to incidents, make sound judgements and fulfil obligations safely and effectively.

SIA standards forbid guards from consuming alcohol or taking recreational drugs while on duty. Reporting for work while under the influence can warrant suspension or loss of licence. Some guards may face random drug and alcohol testing by their employer.

Even consumption shortly before a shift can leave guards impaired - they should allow sufficient sobering time before reporting for duty. Prescription medication that doesn’t hinder work ability is normally allowed, but guards should disclose this to supervisors. Violating substance abuse policies jeopardises public safety.

Exceeding Authority and Powers

Security guards must operate only within the lawful extent of their authority and powers granted through SIA licensing and training. Falsely overstating abilities, threatening beyond reasonable bounds or making unlawful demands all constitute abuses of a guard's role.

For instance, a guard cannot act as law enforcement, conduct searches without cause or use force and restraint techniques exceeding their qualification. Guards shouldn’t wrongly imply they have greater authority than legally conferred.

Misrepresentations or overreach erode public trust in security personnel. Routine training ensures guards understand appropriate exercising of authority and the consequences for exceeding reasonable limitations.

Disclosing Confidential Information

Guards must refrain from disclosing any confidential, proprietary or private information obtained through their work unless legally required. For example, sharing details on high-profile visitors, security systems or company secrets betrays client trust.

Unauthorised information leaks concerning an individual’s personal details, habits or vulnerabilities infringe on privacy rights. Sharing confidential incident knowledge could enable future breaches or scams.

Client consent is mandatory before guards discuss any sensitive client information for publications, interviews or other external uses. Requesting confidential data beyond required for duties is also prohibited.

With public visibility, guards should avoid casual public conversations about their work to prevent inadvertent confidentiality breaches. Discretion protects professional integrity. Violating confidentiality through negligence or malice contravenes SIA conduct standards.

Uniform and Equipment Regulations

Uniform Identification Requirements

SIA standards mandate proper identification be displayed on security guard uniforms for visibility. The guard's SIA licence number, name and employer details must be prominently shown on a waist-level ID badge. This allows the public and clients to identify and verify guards.

Jackets, shirts, vests and other uniform items should also feature the company logo, guard name/licence number and wording like "Security" to clearly designate them as the on-duty guard. Reflective identifiers are required for lower visibility conditions. Guards without proper identification could face fines or suspension.

The aim is for guards to be readily identifiable and distinguishable from police and public. This promotes accountability and lets people determine guards are properly licensed and legitimate.

Restricted Equipment

UK laws prohibit security guards from possessing or using certain types of equipment like handcuffs, batons, tear gas and spit hoods which require special training and Home Office approval. equipment must be deemed reasonable and proportionate to the guard's duties.

Guards cannot carry lethal weapons or anything designed to cause injury. Items like rigid bar handcuffs could constitute an offensive weapon if used unlawfully. UK law allows guards to use “reasonable force” for protection but prohibits preemptive arming.

Guards should receive clear guidance on equipment restrictions and use. Possession or misuse of prohibited items contravenes SIA standards and licence terms. Guards should focus on proactive deterrence rather than confrontation.

Surveillance and Recording Devices

Laws regulate security guards' use of surveillance devices like CCTV cameras or body-worn video. Consent is typically required - guards cannot record non-public conversations without permission. Public area and entry point surveillance is normally allowed if properly signed.

Recordings of sensitive locations like restrooms or private offices would violate privacy laws. Storage and data protection protocols must secure recordings against leaks or misuse. Footage use and retention should be logged and audited.

As public operators, guards must respect privacy rights and obtain consent for any recordings of interactions, ensuring collection and usage follows data protection principles. Overt monitoring rather than secret recordings preserves public trust.

Compliance and Enforcement

Inspections and Investigations

The SIA conducts routine inspections, audits and investigations to monitor regulatory compliance within the private security industry. Random audits examine training centres, employers and guards to ensure adherence with licensing, training and conduct standards.

Targeted investigations occur in response to complaints or intelligence indicating possible violations. Evidence is gathered through methods like licence database reviews, interviews, CCTV analysis and onsite inspections. Investigations aim to identify the nature and extent of any non-compliance.

Proactive inspections provide general monitoring of standards. Inspectors may visit sites unannounced and request to see licences, training records, uniforms, equipment and operating procedures. They report any compliance shortcomings.

Breaches and Penalties

A range of penalties exist for security guards violating regulations and SIA standards. Minor administrative breaches may warrant warnings, remedial training or conditions on a licence. More serious or repeated contraventions can lead to fines, licence suspensions or full revocations.

Criminal prosecutions may result for significant illegal actions like assault, impersonating law enforcement or misusing surveillance equipment. These can lead to fines, imprisonment and permanent disqualification from the industry via licence revocation.

Employers and training providers also face sanctions like removal from approved provider lists and prosecution for enabling misconduct. Enforcement maintains integrity and public safety.

Licence Suspensions and Revocations

The SIA can suspend or fully revoke a guard's licence for serious breaches. Suspensions are temporary removals of licence privileges to prompt remedial action - for example, until training gaps are addressed or pending investigation results.

Revocations permanently rescind a guard's licence following misconduct. Offenses warranting revocation include criminal activity, discrimination, intoxication on duty and persistent non-compliance with standards and employer policies.

Revoked guards are barred from licensed security work. They must surrender ID credentials and cannot reapply for a new licence for a minimum period. Licence actions depend on case specifics, compliance history and whether public safety was endangered.

In summary, the SIA monitors the private security sector through audits, inspections and investigations. Breaches can attract penalties including licence suspensions or full revocations. Enforcement safeguards professional standards, while incentivising guards and businesses to proactively maintain compliance and ethics. Ongoing visibility drives a culture of accountability.

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Registered: Rock Security Solutions LTD
Company No: 10979625 | Registered England & Wales