Today (31 January 2024) the Security Industry Authority (SIA) has released new research on public trust and confidence in the private security industry, carried out by BMG Research. This is the first research of its kind commissioned by the UK’s private security industry regulator. It was carried out in two waves across two years from 2022 to 2023 to see whether public perceptions changed.
A survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,600 UK adults in 2022 and 2023, revealed that 6 in 10 people agree that they trust security professionals. A similar proportion were also confident that security professionals do their duties competently and effectively, and act with integrity. Those respondents with a recent positive personal experience were more likely to have greater trust and confidence overall.
In addition, 7 in 10 survey respondents agreed that security professionals are necessary to maintain order and improve public safety. Most felt safer due to a private security presence in various settings such as music concerts, sporting events, banks, hospitals, nighttime economy venues and retail premises.
Survey respondents and focus group participants were also asked about their understanding of regulation and perceptions of careers in private security. Whilst 7 in 10 agreed that people can be proud of working in the private security industry, most did not see it as a first-choice career.
Michelle Russell, Chief Executive of the Security Industry Authority, said
Public protection through effective regulation is the golden thread at the heart of what the SIA does. That’s why it is important for us to understand public views about individual licence holders, the wider industry and us as a regulator. We are encouraged that the overall survey results demonstrate that most people have trust and confidence in private security operatives and agree they do important work.
There is more that can be done, by both the SIA as a regulator and the industry as employers and deployers of security, to raise awareness of how the licensing regime and the work of private security protects the public.
The overall stability of the findings across the two years indicate public views are slow-moving, so changing perceptions will likely take time.”
We are using the findings of this research to develop our strategic planning and stakeholder engagement activity, and to inform our support for industry-led initiatives. We intend to continue to measure and monitor the effect this has on public perceptions of private security over time.
More information about the research is on the SIA’s GOV.UK website.
Michelle Russell also reflects on the findings on the SIA blog.
For media enquiries only, please contact [email protected].
Notes to editors
The SIA commissioned BMG Research to survey public trust and confidence in private security over two years. The first wave was carried out in 2022 and the second in 2023.
The research consisted of both qualitative and quantitative phases, including a survey of a nationally representative sample of UK adults aged 16+ (2,597 in 2022 and 2,621 in 2023).
Over half of the survey respondents agreed that they ‘trust security professionals’ (2023 and 2022 59%) are ‘confident that they act with integrity and do the right thing’ (2023 and 2022 58%) and are ‘confident that they carry out their duties competently and effectively’ (2023 64%, 2022 63%).
7 out of 10 survey respondents agreed that security professionals are ‘necessary to maintain order and public safety’ (2023 70%, 2022 71%).
7 in 10 survey respondents agreed that private security ‘is a career to be proud of’ (2023 68%, 2022 69%) but only 1 in 4 agreed that it is ‘a good first choice career’ (2023 40%, 2022 40%).
The Security Industry Authority is the regulator of the UK’s private security industry. Our purpose is to protect the public through effective regulation of the private security industry and working with partners to raise standards across the sector. We are responsible for licensing people who do certain jobs in the private security industry and for approving private security companies who wish to be part of the voluntary ‘Approved Contractor Scheme’. We are marking 20 years since we were set up in 2003 and issued the first SIA licences in April 2004.
The SIA is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Home Office. For more information, visit www.gov.uk/sia.
You can also find us on LinkedIn @Security Industry Authority, Facebook @theSIAUK, YouTube @TheSIAUK and X (formerly known as Twitter) @SIAuk.