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The GMB - Britain's General Union warned today that if the new £190 upfront licence fee for security workers is not covered by the employers, the entire security industry will be at risk as individuals will not be able to afford it which will lead to recruitment and professionalism problems in this fast growing industry.

The Government passed the Security Industry Act in May 2001 which requires all manned guards to be licensed from 2005 at a cost of £190 per individual. The licence must be paid upfront and responsible employers have already indicated that they will pay the fee on behalf of their workers. Many other firms have indicated they will not leaving low paid workers with a costly upfront cost which will act as a deterrent to anyone considering employment in this sector.

The security industry is set to expand as they play a bigger role in state's counterterrorism activities and anti-social behaviour efforts but recruitment and retention is set to become the industry's biggest hurdle. Among these factors are:

  • estimated 25-30% of people currently working in the industry will not meet the criminality/competence/basic skills requirements to be set by the SIA
  • expansion of the industry into new areas - complementary police role, counter-terrorism activities, immigration and detention, police support roles.
  • Paying low wages in a low unemployment economy increases competition for employees
  • A high turnover in the industry to as much as 130% in some areas

The GMB is the biggest union in the private security industry representing over 20,000 members across the UK.

Kevin Brandstatter, GMB Organiser for Swindon said "The new requirements cover a range of security staff in Swindon including those who provide security on receptions, those who are registered key holders and door supervisors in Swindon pubs and night clubs."

"Many of these workers, who are responsible for the protection of property and the safety and wellbeing of people in Swindon are only paid at of just above the minimum wage. While The Security Act has gone a long way to professionalizing the industry the high licence cost and low wages are a deterrent to recruitment and asking minimum wage workers to cough up £190 before their first day of work will deter many from joining the industry.

"Responsible employers recognise this punitive cost and are already working with the GMB. But many companies will not share this burden and the entire industry will be at risk as the recruitment and retention problems will increase in an industry that already suffers from these problems.

"We call upon Government and employers to work the GMB to make the industry attractive to responsible individuals and relive the burden of the £190 fee from potential recruits."

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