The Security Industry Needs to be Cleaned Up, But Who’s Responsible?

I’ve worked in the security industry for over 30 years, going from employee to business owner in one of the country’s most vital industries, one that provides safety for millions of UK businesses, workers and members of the public.

It’s because I’m so proud of this industry that I’m so dedicated to seeing it change. The recent Uber case has given me hope that one of its glaring holes – the exploitation of the self-employment grey area – may soon be patched up.

One of the main reasons that companies such as Uber and Deliveroo are being challenged is that they’re a part of new, untested business models that take advantage of smartphones and ubiquitous connectivity. At some point, it was inevitable that they were going to clash with laws that weren’t created with such operations in mind.

But what’s our excuse? The security industry is ancient and well-established and has matured alongside our legal system. We shouldn’t wait for things to get worse before we’re forced to change; we should admit our problems, get ahead of them and identify solutions that leave all bona fide companies, the people who work for them and their customers better off.

Here are the people who can make real change happen sooner rather than later.

The Security Industry Authority

The SIA is responsible for the licensing of individual guards and the accreditation of companies via the Approved Contractor Scheme. The problem is, currently only the former is mandatory while the latter in opt-in.

This is the loophole that allows rogue operators to provide minimal back up and support and skimp on insurance cover, leaving their guards vulnerable and their customers liable. ACS certified security companies also need to prove they are not misusing employment status, and the current guidelines state: “Based on advice from HMRC, our expectation is that in general, security workers should be PAYE.”

We’ve been promised a review of SIA licensing time and time again. Hopefully, they’ve seen which way the wind is blowing and will reform their licensing before legal action becomes necessary.


Rogue security companies are only able to exist because they have a market, whether it’s people who don’t know any better, or those who are willing to shrug off the risks to get the lowest price.

While there’s probably nothing I can say to reach that second group – other than you may as well have no security if you have rogue security – in my experience, people who understand the risks of using unaccredited security services will no longer buy from them. You can click here to learn more about these risks.

If you’re already convinced, what about other businesses you know? Please do not hesitate to share my blog or what you’ve learned from it so that we can thin the herd of uninformed customers that these rogue companies prey upon.

Security Guards

Uber drivers and security guards have the same rights and are equally able to take their case to an employment tribunal and if enough guards organise, we could see the same large scale legal action that is currently underway amongst the likes of Uber, Deliveroo, Hermes and many more.

Understandably, many people, especially those who are financially vulnerable, don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. But all it will take is one victory from a security guard who knows their rights to get the ball rolling and bring attention to the widespread misuse of employment status.

Security guards should also understand their options. Self-employment may seem more flexible or provide potential for more work, but that doesn’t even begin to make up for the benefits lost from being a full-time employee. Magenta, and many other reputable security companies, almost always has openings available, and we meet our guards in the middle to make their shifts work around their lives.

As a business owner, I’m unable to be involved in legal action against other companies, but I will never stop exposing the problems in this industry until they are fixed. If you want to keep up with the latest developments and security advice, click here to subscribe to my monthly roundup of blog content.

Abbey Petkar

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