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#memberNOTobserver – Why it’s more important than ever for BSIA members to engage

23rd Mar 2021 Mike Reddington BSIA

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) was created 53 years ago to support and represent those operating in the private security sector. We thought it was time to find out what their current priorities are by catching up with Mike Reddington, Chief Executive Officer. Here’s an overview of our discussion, including background to the BSIA and the agenda for 2021 & beyond for Mike and his award-winning team.

  1. Who are the British Security Industry Association (BSIA)?

The origin of the British Security Industry Association as a Not For Profit Trade Association back in 1967 was to form a collective to speak on behalf of those businesses operating in the Private Security Industry and contribute to government discussions and decisions.

When Mike joined as Chief Executive Officer in January 2019, he set about reinvigorating the Association, redefining its focus and raising awareness of the good work being done on behalf of the security sector. He recognised the importance of ensuring the BSIA maintains relevance to its membership and provides important information.

Mike’s view is always to consider “So what and what next?” Mike’s leadership has raised the profile of the BSIA and improved the association’s performance. Along with his marketing team’s activities, this has led to a significant increase in awareness of the BSIA, driving up followers on LinkedIn from just 2,000 in January 2019 to more than 15,000 today.

To this end, the team came up with an embracing hashtag – #memberNOTobserver – encapsulating how they see their membership truly driving the direction of the Association and the security industry as a whole.

The BSIA actually has 16 different sections, covering the breadth of the industry. It cultivates strong links with stakeholders across the industry, in addition to a range of government departments.

The Association identifies best practice and develops these into Codes of Practice with many of these then becoming Industry Standards. It shares intelligence as part of the SaferCash & SaferGems security initiatives and provides a range of training opportunities through Skills for Security, including a highly regarded Apprenticeship programme. In fact, in 2020 Skills for Security doubled the number of apprentices going through their programme, quite an achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many such training schemes have been put on hold.

  1. How do you position the BSIA alongside other such bodies in the security sector?

The BSIA represents approx. 70% of the private security industry (in value terms) and is recognised as “the voice of the professional security industry”. The Association cultivates very strong links across the industry with other representative bodies, such as the NSI, SSAIB, FIA, SIA, the Security Institute and the Security Commonwealth.

The different bodies collaborate closely on numerous initiatives and this allows them to impartially lobby government and achieve success on many issues facing the industry. They are seen as offering a non-commercial balanced perspective, representative of their respective memberships.

The BSIA won the 2020 Business Association Award of the Year from the Association of Association Executives, cementing Mike and the team’s efforts to push the organisation forward, raise its profile and maximise the benefits for members.

  1. In spite of COVID-19, what did the BSIA manage to achieve in 2020? What went well and what challenges were there?

The BSIA had a very busy 2020 and sprang into action immediately, lobbying government early in March 2020 as a potential lockdown began to be discussed. By combining with other industry bodies, they succeeded in gaining Key Worker Clarification Status in little more than a week for security industry businesses and operators.

In addition, the BSIA instigated a campaign ‘the Hidden Workforce – perceptions of the security officer’ joining forces with the Security Institute and the Security Commonwealth, to raise the profile of frontline security operatives.

Another highlight has been creating an award-winning Installation of safety and security systems – cybersecurity code of practice guide, which is now being developed into a certification scheme.

The BSIA also recently published a Automated Facial Recognition(AFR) – guide to legal and ethical use, the first of its kind in the industry, which included input from the UK Government. This came as a result of BSIA’s Subject Matter Expert Pauline Norstrom attending government discussions on whether to ban the technology. Pauline successfully illustrated the view of the BSIA membership and interested parties from across the security sector – ‘Don’t ban the technology, govern its usage’.

  1. What new technology solutions have you seen introduced in 2020?

The first area of huge growth that the BSIA and Mike have witnessed across the security industry is a familiar story – the rapid increase and acceptance of digital solutions.

Mike and his team also praise the resilience of the sector along with the cohesion they’ve seen between businesses to support customers’ changing needs.

Secondly, several existing technologies have seen rapid expansion in acceptance and usage in new applications such as – Thermal Imaging Cameras which have proved popular as a first point of infection defence with body temperature checks at points of entry to buildings; Increase in Contactless Access Control solutions; along with Occupancy and People Flow Management solutions, which are likely to be with us for some time in the ‘new normal’ as buildings reduce occupancy by as much as 50% to comply with social distancing rules and keep further pandemic outbreak risks to a minimum.

  1. What are the BSIA’s primary areas of focus for 2021 and the next couple of years and what challenges do you foresee for the industry and your membership?

The BSIA have many ongoing workstreams, such as; proactively updating existing Codes of Practice and standards (e.g. EN 50131-1 to take account of IoT devices and current best practice); continued UK Security Industry representation within the wider UK economic framework and at government level (Department of International Trade (DIT) & Joint Security & Resilience Centre (JSaRC)) as well as various bodies internationally; ongoing support to industry certification bodies; and of course delivering their highly regarded training and apprenticeship schemes and qualifications via Skills for Security.

In particular, the work to develop the Cyber Security Code of Practice and launch it as an auditable certification scheme that can be followed cohesively by business is ongoing currently.

The BSIA are one of the lead body on the Electronic Call Handling Operations (ECHO) project, which is due for delivery in Q2 2021. This will automate the transmission process between Alarm Receiving Centres (ARCs) and blue light emergency services, reducing potential errors and delays in responding to emergencies.

With regard to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automated Facial Recognition (AFR), the success in putting across the industry’s views to government must now be swiftly built upon. The BSIA’s recently published guide to legal and ethical use of AI and AFR is being expanded into a workable Code of Practice that can be adopted by businesses operating in the AFR space.

And the BSIA will continue to represent the industry with relevant government departments, championing the acceptance and usage of AI, AFR, Live Facial Recognition (LFR) and other biometric technologies whilst driving commitment to the new guidance document.

The BSIA also leads the Police and Security (PaS) group to develop positive partnerships between our police authorities and private security companies. This is an area of increasing focus currently, as organisations across the UK look to co-operate and reduce the security risk of ‘grey spaces’ that sit between public and ‘pseudo’ public sector responsibility.  The scope of responsibility will be laid out in a new ‘Protect Duty’ (based around Martyn’s Law) that has come about as a result of the Manchester Arena Bombing enquiry. This aims to address existing ambiguity around security and surveillance responsibilities.

Another current project that the BSIA is heavily involved in is the Next Generation Networks (NGN) All IP Transition. They are leading the call for installers to take proactive steps ahead of the planned IP Transition initiative which has already begun in many areas of the UK. This will see the existing analogue telephony network upgraded to a complete IP service across the nation; full Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) digital platform by the end of 2025. There is much work to be done to ensure end customers’ security systems don’t fail once the migration is pushed through.

There is a huge amount of work being undertaken by the BSIA in the industry to ensure our existing governing standards, originally developed in conjunction with the EU, are adapted appropriately to ensure adherence is as straightforward as possible for security businesses, whilst also allowing them to trade easily with the EU.

And there will be much work to do as we go through Spring and into the Summer to support the security industry through the stages of lockdown being lifted. In particular those sectors that were most adversely impacted – i.e. aviation, the night time economy, events and hospitality, along with cash & valuables in transit (CViT).

So, with so much transformation taking place in our industry, members of the BSIA and businesses across the security sector are ideally positioned to engage in the initiatives taking place, speaking up with their support and/or opinions. In this way, the BSIA can ensure they represent the full breadth of the industry’s requirements to help shape and develop the security sector of the future.


For more information on the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) including all of its initiatives, please visit their website or find them on LinkedIn: