Top-up or CPD

From the 1st October 2021, all SIA Door Supervisors and Security Officers who wished to renew their licence were required to hold a valid first aid qualification (EFAW as a minimum) and attend and pass the regulated top-up course. This affected everyone who carried out their training before April 2021, when the syllabus changed to include terrorism awareness and First Aid.
This was no small undertaking given that the number of SIA badge holders is around the 35,000 mark. Being unable to attend or being unable to pass the course would in effect mean you could lose your licence and therefore your job.
Prior to the introduction of the Top-up, licence holders would reapply for their licenses every three years. And assuming they had not had any run-ins with the law (DBS checks were carried out), they would automatically be issued a new licence.
Given the changing nature of the Industry; the increased responsibilities the private security industry holds, and the obvious increase in the threat of terrorism, the Top-Up course was largely welcomed throughout the industry.
The Top-up course also required learners to undergo Physical intervention theory and pass Physical intervention practical training. This aspect of the course was very much needed. Many learners attending the course had not had the opportunity to have any formal physical intervention training since they qualified for their license the first time. It would not be unusual on a course that learners self-reported not practising physical intervention for 8 years or more.
So what happens next?
The future of the Top-up course is not yet clear. Will all badge holders have to undergo another top-up course? This would be an even bigger undertaking; under the current system only those who carried out their training prior to April 2021 were required to complete a course. If everyone who holds a licence had to be upskilled this would include many more trained officers.
One common criticism by those who were required to attend a Top-up course was the costs involved. The price of the course can vary from £99 to £150 plus EFAW, anything from another £50 to £150. These represent just the upfront costs. There is also loss of earnings, travel, expenses and in some cases accommodation. Learners have reported the total cost of attending a course to be over £500. This is assuming they pass at the first attempt and do not have to pay to resist. It is an eye-watering sum for workers in an industry which is often low-paid and who are very often on zero-hour contracts. This figure does not include the cost of renewing your licence with the SIA, a further £186. The thought of incurring these costs every three years would put many good, experienced officers off the idea of remaining in the industry.
Something must be done. Generally, in the industry, both managers and officers broadly agree the old system of automatically renewing your licence is not ideal. The Industry has become much more professional due to initiatives by the SIA and other industry organisations. The police and local authorities very much see the private security industry to be a much-needed part of the machinery which keeps the public safe. The public has seen the industry front and centre in all aspects of their safety and protection, from the 2012 Olympics to the King’s Coronation. From Glastonbury, to weekly visits to support local football teams. And lets not forget how the industry as a whole has fought hard for recognition as a professional organisation.

The case for and against Continued Professional Development 
As stated earlier one of the required sections of the Top-up was physical intervention. The theory is largely around safety considerations regarding the use of Physical Intervention. 
The practical side is to ensure that the student can safely disengage from an attacker who grabs them unexpectedly, or to escort a moderately difficult or drunk customer from a premises. They train to get a difficult, drunk customer up and down a flight of stairs, or separate customers engaged in low-level confrontations.
Everyone who works in the industry understands using physical intervention has inherent risks and the law states it should only be used as a last resort. In an age where everyone has a video camera in their pocket, door supervisors are becoming increasingly wary of using physical intervention, even when it is appropriate. If an officer finds themselves in a courtroom defending their actions, the first question will be, was the force reasonable, ie, proportionate to the circumstances? Assuming their actions are found to be reasonable, the next question could well be, was the officer appropriately trained to use the technique they deployed? If the answer is again yes it would not be unreasonable for a prosecuting solicitor or barrister to ask when they were trained, and whether they have carried out any regular refresher training.
It is not inconceivable for an officer to do everything right but still lose the case because they can not demonstrate that they have kept current in their skills.
However not all officers are customer-facing, and many would not use any form of physical intervention in the execution of their job. 
Other skills may be better demonstrated for them to be seen as competent to carry out their role to a professional standard. These skills and competencies are as varied as the industry itself. Conflict management, customer service, communication, and responding to emergency situations.
So, moving forward is there a case that the industry moves to some type of CPD-based model? The would obviously need to be a method of formally recording and assessing how this would look. Again, no easy task. But if the industry is to maintain the professional recognition it has fought hard to win, it has to be seen to maintain standards long after officers are first issued with their licence. 
If officers are working in environments where they are at risk, to ensure they maintain a level of skills not only reassures the public but protects those who spend their working lives protecting them.

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