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IPSA comment on the lack of accountability of the SIA

International Professional Security Association (IPSA) : 19 February, 2009  (Company News)
International Professional Security Association CEO demands transparency and improved service levels from the SIA which he believes lacks accountability
In January the SIA was asked to release the critical independent delivery review, which had led to the departure of the then SIA CEO Mike Wilson. At a recent IPSA meeting, members brought up the lack of openness of the SIA and requested the International Council to publicise their concerns. The SIA has since released two documents, both written by themselves, a summary of the review and the progress made against some of the criticisms, however what is still lacking is the original document.

What is it that they are refusing to tell us? Why was it decided by the board that the best course of action was to force out the Chief Exec within days of receiving the report? Was he considered by the board to be so ineffective that he was not to be given the chance of rectifying the highlighted problems? Surely many of the issues actually relate to management practices put in place from day one?

Looking through the released documents, some items are of no surprise. There are a number of criticisms about working with stakeholders and enforcement, areas where they had started improvements last year, which have also continued since November.

For a body which has added countless levels of administrative burden to the industry, and an inspection scheme which strays far away from quality of service delivery, it appears that they had been lacking in numerous areas of best practice themselves. Whilst it is nice to hear that some people have now been moved from temporary to permanent contracts and will receive appraisals (once a third party contractor has been appointed for this), what we want to know more about is the failings in service delivery and what will be done about it.

We still have:

* Call centre staff that give out incorrect advice, which in cases could lead to a person unwittingly committing a criminal offence (how difficult is it to grasp that a security dog handler is also a security officer).

* No clear escalation procedure for the more difficult queries through the call centre - if it isn't on the script, say "I will call you back", then don't.

* Application forms being rejected for small reasons that a phone call could clarify - it is easier to post everything back to the applicant, irrespective of the fact this delays them obtaining their licence by a week and possibly preventing them for working during that period. How about some customer service? Even Licence Dispensation Notices (LDNs) do not help here, as the application has not been accepted.

* Applications that for no obvious reason get "stuck in the system". Mavis going ill or taking a holiday whilst the application is sat on her desk, shouldn't be a reason to prevent somebody from working.

We have to accept the SIA, we don't have a choice. They are the sole provider of the licenses required by law for us to work in this industry. As a Government appointed body, they are supposed to be transparent. We want to know that they are aware of problems still in the system and we want to know what they will be doing to improve the processes. Don't misunderstand me, they have already significantly improved on the initial systems, but there is still room for improvement. The industry (and SIA customer) wishes to be part of the journey, not simply taken for a ride.
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