What to Look for in a Security Guard


Sometimes, it feels like it’s hard to get a grasp on crime these days. Every time you read the news, you read about someone breaking into a business or robbing a store. As a business owner or manager, you know that you are responsible for securing your business against crime. In a very financial sense, an after-hours robbery or a vacant property robbery can cost you and your business a significant amount of money. That can cut into your profit margins and make it more difficult for you to pay your employees, expand your business, and provide for your clients. In a more personal sense, a crime can be a danger to you, your employees, and your clients. You would never want to subject anyone under your care to unsafe conditions.

For an occupied business, many people opt for an automated gate or door that regulates who can and cannot enter into a business. This is a pretty good option for a business that will have people going in and out anyway. Oftentimes, these gates also employ a security guard in a booth to control who enters and exits. However, with a vacant property, that might seem like a waste. With an unoccupied property, there is no one who should be on the premises except for you and a few approved individuals. One solution to this is not a gate, but instead, a security guard.

Problems can arise when hiring a security guard, though. If you hire someone who is not trustworthy, you are actually just opening yourself up to an even greater chance of crime. You want to hire someone you know you can trust; this is someone who has been vetted and approved. How can you know if the person you hire is trustworthy? There are some things to consider.

Security Industry Authority

In the United Kingdom, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) regulates the industry. This organization is a public entity that answers to the Home Secretary. In 2003, the Private Security Industry Act 2001 created the SIA.

The duties of the SIA are divided into two distinct categories: the organization licenses every reputable private security guard in the UK and operates the Approved Contractor Scheme. The Approved Contractor scheme is a system of measurement that assesses the qualities of independent security contractors. You can think of this as a test to ensure that a contractor is highly qualified for the job.

SIA Licensing

The first duty of the SIA is to licence contractors in certain private sectors. The necessity of a licence is determined by the job that the individual is contracted to perform. In fact, it is a crime for someone to engage in activities requiring a licence if he or she is not licensed. The licensable sectors are defined as Cash and Valuables in Transit, Close Protection, Door Supervision, Public Space Surveillance, Security Guarding, Vehicle Immobilisation, and Key Holding. Essentially, these are pretty much all of the tasks that you will potentially require of a contractor.

A subsequent law has made vehicle immobilisation completely under the purview of legal authorities in most parts of the UK. The exception is Northern Ireland, where immobilisation is still legal under the SIA licence.

The licence comes in two basic types: front line and non-front line. Frontline licences are necessary if the licensed individual will be the one undertaking any of the aforementioned activities. Essentially, this is the licence that the individual private contractors will be required to have. If you are hiring a contractor, you must be sure that he or she is carrying the licence, which is a credit card-sized card. The individual must wear this on his or her person.

A non-frontline licence is necessary if one is to manage or employ the front line licence-holders. This is not a card, but instead, a letter. When you deal with a company that supplies contractors, you must be sure that the company has this non-front line certification.

Approved Contractor Scheme

The ACS is the other duty of the SIA. This is a voluntary program to ensure the quality of private contractors. To meet the approval standards, an organisation must meet eighty-nine different criteria.

Independent Vetting

Many organisations forego applying for the Approved Contractor Scheme as it is completely voluntary. This should not be considered a disqualifier in your mind. What is important is that the contractors at the licensed firm are licenced themselves and vetted. Since the licensing strictures can be so rigorous, when you are dealing with a licensed company that vets its contractors, you should feel confident the individuals are trustworthy. However, it is important that you only deal with a company that does indeed vet its employees.


Depending on your area of business, you might require more than just a human security guard. In some cases, such as those that might deal with large areas, harsh chemicals, or unsafe conditions, a dog can perform tasks that a human being cannot.

It is well known that dogs have better senses of smell than humans. Many breeds of dog were actually bred to enhance even further their sense of smell. Also, it is thought that in certain conditions, a dog’s eyesight at night is superior to a human’s. Dogs can smell and hear things that humans never will be able to; so, if you are looking for a specific security need, you might want to look into a company that also offers canine protection.

These canine security handlers need to be vetted by the organisation, as handling canines is a specific set of skills. Police units have long understood that the physical manoeuvrability, speed, and senses of dogs aid in apprehending dangerous suspects. Security work is no different.

Essentially, when you are looking to protect your most vital investments, your business and your employees, it is important that you hire someone skilled and trustworthy. The easiest way to know if someone will fit your needs is to only hire SIA-licensed contractors who have been vetted for reliability.