Telecoms giant BT has signed a four-year, £23m deal to build and manage an information system and contact centre for the Security Industry Authority, a new government agency set up to oversee bouncers and security guards.
Launched in April, the SIA was set up to meet the requirements of the Private Security
Industry Act 2001. It will issue about 500,000 licences over the next three years to a variety of people working in the private
security industry, ranging from nightclub door supervisors to private investigators.
Syntegra, BT’s consulting and systems integration division, will implement and manage the service for most of the licence application process. Its primary responsibilities will involve collecting the fee from applicants, initiating criminal record checks and producing licences.
The background checks initiated by BT on behalf of the SIA will be dependent on the Criminal Records Bureau, whose systems are run by IT outsourcing provider Capita. The Criminal Records Bureau’s systems hit the headlines last year because of
delays in processing criminal records checks, in particular for school teachers.
However, the final decision on whether to grant a licence will lie with the SIA, and not the Criminal Records Bureau.
SIA officials admit that developing the necessary systems will be a complex task. The authority’s chief executive John Saunders said, "The SIA and BT face a tough challenge to implement the practical process of licensing for the private security industry, but I am confident we can work together to achieve a seamless operation."
The overall contract value will depend on the demand for licences but it is expected to be in the region of £23m. Although initially signed for four years, there is also an option to extend the deal for another year.
Following a nine-month implementation, the first batch of licences will be issued to door supervisors and wheel clampers early next year. The issuing of licences to other parts of the security industry, such as security guards and private investigators, will follow in 2005 and 2006.
In the future, the SIA’s remit is likely to be extended to cover
private security operatives in Scotland and it could also be expanded to cover other security-related occupations.
Services BT will run for the SIA
A national SIA call centre
Processing of licence applications
Verifying an applicant’s identity
Initiating criminal record checks
- Producing and dispatching licences.