Q&A - SIA Mandatory Training for Door Supervisors

Since the announcement by the SIA that physical interventions training is to be mandatory for door supervisors who trained before the new qualification was introduced in June 2010, there has been interest in the events that have lead to this decision and speculation about the impact the decision will have both in the licensed retail and security guarding sectors.

Bill Fox has been following the developments closely and puts into context the background and speculates on the outcomes for the industry following this welcome change.

What lead to the change?
The current Security Industry Authority leadership and Board listened to industry opinion and recognised that, despite employer guidance and awareness campaigns, most door supervisors remained untrained. Intervention was needed in the best interests of public safety, but also required ministerial support.

Further restraint deaths occurred in 2011 involving door supervisors untrained in physical intervention, but it was the outcome of two coroner’s inquests – one in Lincoln, the other in Portsmouth last winter – that were absolutely key to securing ministerial approval for mandatory instruction. Both inquests concerned tragic deaths that followed ejection and restraint from licensed premises.

Why are physical intervention skills necessary and what risks do they bring?
There are times when security teams need to act to prevent harm, eject or detain. This puts staff and the public at risk and leaves employers potentially liable if such action is foreseeable and they have not taught safe methods. This can apply to retail and hospital security roles as well as door supervision. Training is just one aspect, it is vital that employers also act to reduce use of restraint as far as practicable, as it always carries a degree of risk.

What difference will this training make and what are the key success factors?
To make a real impact the training must be supported by employer policy and guidance and with effective workplace supervision and practice. With these in place staff and customers will be safer and there will be less injuries and deaths. We won’t prevent them all however as there are many factors that can lead to a tragedy, and staff cannot control all of these. The SIA-endorsed PI training unit will increasingly become the benchmark for in-house security teams that need PI, and it is already signposted in guidance from NHS Regulator, NHS Protect. We will also see many DS badge holders switching to security licenses on renewal, if they are not working on licensed premises or roles that require PI.

What is the likely impact of this change for the security industry?
One of the quirks of licensing is that a large number of DS licence holders are not door supervisors in the conventional sense, they are security guards. Many security companies have focused on the door supervision pathway as this allowed them to deliver a single training programme and benefit from further operational flexibility.

The equation has now changed and many security companies will now consider switching a percentage of their personnel to the security guarding licence at point of renewal.

This will require companies to step back and re-evaluate their needs in this area, including an objective review of their policies, contracts, risks and training requirements. Done well, this
process will in itself will make a real contribution to violence reduction, one of the more complex areas of health and safety to control.

Any such ‘taking stock’ needs to consider relatively recent employer guidance addressing violence reduction and physical intervention in the Retail and Healthcare sectors. These free, online guidance documents facilitated by Skills for Security are endorsed by the SIA, ACPO, BRC and the NHS, and Licensed Retail guidance is currently being updated by the SIA.

Is there enough provision for this type of training or will employers struggle to source it?
We don’t know the SIA timetable as yet but there will be a run in period and there is already substantial capacity for delivery of the SIA competency requirement. Maybo centres alone are currently training in the region of 3000 individuals a month including those preparing for the London Olympics. It is important to acknowledge that many professional security and event companies (and in-house teams) are already ahead on this and have been delivering PI for some time within a robust policy and risk reduction framework.

What if any wider applications are there? For retail, hospital and general guarding? Or for non-security but front-line staff?
The driver for change has been night venues which have experienced the most tragedies. There can be significant risk in some retail and hospital settings but this depends on the specifics of the role, policy etc. Employer guidance is available from Skills for Security and the SIA on these issues in Retail and NHS Security and at maybo.com. Some retailers for example encourage arrest, an activity which the British Retail Consortium can evidence carries substantially heightened risk, whilst others focus on deterrence and let aggressive individuals leave. I think training in these areas will be subject to risk based decisions.