If you have reached this page because you want to pass your SIA Training in Close Protection and apply for your licence to become a close protection officer – we are pleased to say you are in the right place.
This article will provide all the information necessary; from the licence you need to the training you will you should finish, and ultimately how to land that first Close Protection job.
Introduction to being a close protection officer
The idea of being a close protection officer might seem exciting and in some cases glamorous (if protecting a VIP celebrity) and while the job is certainly more interesting than the norm, this should not be the reason you decide to become trained as one.
The reality is, in come cases the job is very dangerous and at times it will be monotonous. Below is a description of a typical day of an employed close protection officer. In this example, the person being protected (the Principle) is a VIP based in the U.K.
A Typical Day as a Close Protection Officer
A typical day will start with the daily meeting with the officer’s team leader. Here a briefing will take place on the Principle’s movements for the day, and the relevant actions the team will be required to take.
Important issues such as transport arrangements, escort duties and any counter surveillance tasks that may need to take place will be discussed in full, with our close protection officer being assigned his relevant tasks.
There will be an assessment of the potential risks the Principle may face, with research going into issues such as route planning, the locations of the day’s itinerary and people the principle will come into contact with.
Before the Principle has even finished his breakfast, the officer assigned to take care of transport will inspect the vehicles. The number of vehicles used as part of the security convoy will vary from client to client and the nature of the operational environment. A high risk principle will have up to 5 additional vehicles flanking the main vehicle with a police escort closing off other traffic.
Transferring the principle
After the vehicles have been inspected and the Principle is ready to leave, the main vehicle is brought to an exit door to minimise exposure.
Now that the vehicles have been searched, a close protection officer will remain with each vehicle so that there is no risk of the vehicles being tampered with. These officers will also be paying close attention to their surroundings for anything untoward.
With higher risk principles the close protection team will flank the client as they approach or exit the vehicle.
Traveling with the principle
Now our close protection officer is in the vehicle, driving the principle to his first destination. A number of routes will have been discussed in the morning briefing and our officer will know exactly how to get there. He will also be aware of any back up routes should the circumstances require it.
The chosen route will be one that avoids choke points (areas where traffic flow is congested or easily stopped). Other such areas that may be avoided are tunnels or single lane bridges; anywhere the Principle may be vulnerable for attack without a sufficient escape route.
Travel by public transport is generally avoided because of the increase in risk. Public transport creates more variables that are harder to control. Even low risk Principles tend to avoid such modes of travel, (except for flying).
Protecting the Principle at Work
A Principle requiring protection generally has a varied and busy life, whether it business appointments, work functions, or the public appearances of a well known celebrity.
Here the need to be close enough to the principle to protect, yet allow enough distance for them to conduct their affairs is paramount. In all circumstances the close protection officer must analyse all potential risks, be aware of escape routes and be in contact with other team members so that each conducts themselves in a way for efficient protection of the Principle.
A close protection officer will sometimes work 12, 14 or 16 hour shifts. It can be grueling and the need to remain alert (even when posted the more mundane task of guarding the vehicle) is a vital part of the job.
Hopefully this information is not new to you. You have researched the idea of becoming a close protection officer and you know what to expect. If so, it is now time to go about getting that licence.
First of all you will need to confirm that you are eligible to apply for a SIA licence.
There SIA issue two types of SIA licences; one is required for front line security personnel, the other for non front line personnel such as supervisors. To become a close protection officer you will need to apply for a front line SIA licence.
You will also need to have fully passed relevant training course.
Additionally, you will need to clear the SIA criminality checks.
How much will my licence cost?
The SIA licence cost is payable to the SIA, with the fee covering processing cost. Remember, fees are non refundable so make sure you have all your documents in place.
How long will it take to process?
The SIA state that a minimum of 80% (correctly completed) applications are fully processed within 25 working days.
If your application is of a more complicated nature, i.e it requires further criminality checks or foreign qualification enquiries the application may take longer to process.
The SIA ‘Get Licensed’ Booklet
The SIA publish a comprehensive, ‘Get Licensed’ booklet containing all the information you will need regarding the SIA and licensing. You can download it here.
SIA Close Protection Training
Before applying for your SIA close protection licence, you will need to pass the Close protection training course.
Fortunately there are reputable training providers based all over the UK. However, you should always ensure that the training centre you choose is SIA approved.
The best place to find an SIA approved Close protection Training provider is to head straight to the SIA website. There you can use their online database to search the available courses near you.
6 tips to choosing a training provider
Before making that important decision on which Close Protection Training Provider to use, you should ask yourself the following 6 questions:
How much Close Protection knowledge do they really have?
What is the background of their trainers? You want to gain your SIA licence training with expertise from those that have worked extensively in the field. Not only will this ensure that you receive the best practical training and guidance, they may also prove important contacts and provide references when the all important job application process begins.
The industry is very much about who you know. You must have this in mind from the very beginning of your career, and that starts the moment you choose a training provider.
Most close protection training centres will have all the details you need on their website. Do some research, the wider range of areas they have operational experience in the better. (ie, you want to see that they have dealt with close protection services for celebrity clients, high net worth individuals, politicians, ambassadors etc).
Is your Training Provider accredited to a recognised SIA Awarding Organisation?
In some circumstances a training provider may not be accredited to the necessary awarding organization. In this case they will actually sub-contract the training to another company.
The simplest way to check the status of your chosen training provider is to go to the SIA website and search for them there. If they are not listed then they may well be subcontracting their advertised services, meaning a diluted service to you.
What Awarding Organisation does your Training Provider use?
Although each awarding organization is obviously fully endorsed by the SIA, there are slight variations in the service that each of the organizations provide. For instance, City & Guilds accredited training providers benefit from the fact that they can offer their students online examinations. This in turn means your results can be obtained the same day you take your exams. Cutting this time down can mean a lot if your need to apply for your SIA licence is urgent.
Some awarding organizations can take one or two weeks to mark the paper exams and send you your results.
Below is the list of the main SIA endorsed awarding organizations involved in each sector of the security industry. Make sure your Training Provider is using one of them.
|Cash and Valuables in Transit||NOCN and Trident Awards (LASER)|
|Close Protection||Buckinghamshire New University, City & Guilds, Edexcel, IQ and HABC|
|Door Supervision||British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body (BIIAB), City & Guilds, Edexcel, EDI, HABC, IQ, NOCN, SQA and Trident Awards (LASER)|
|Public Space Surveillance (CCTV)||British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body (BIIAB), City & Guilds, Edexcel, EDI, HABC, IQ, NOCN, SQA and Trident Awards (LASER)|
|Security Guarding||British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body (BIIAB), City & Guilds, Edexcel, EDI, HABC, IQ, NOCN, SQA and Trident Awards (LASER)|
Does your training provider supply a quality training program?
Some providers will actually cut corners by not fulfilling the stipulated 140hrs that is required to legitimately complete the training and apply for your SIA licence.
This is obviously detrimental to you. You are losing out on the contact hours required to obtain the knowledge you need to pass your exams. Furthermore, if the SIA end up stepping in to close the training provider, (because they have not abided by the stipulated training hours) they have the power to revoke your licence.
Remember, 140hrs is the minimum amount of contact hours a provider is required to have on their course. Many will go far beyond this, with additional modules for your benefit, such as hostile environment training.
This is your career. Look for the most comprehensive training you can, not the course that seems to offer the fastest way to obtain your licence. Better training now will help you for the rest of your days working as a close protection officer.
Is your training provider fully insured?
If this information is not available on their website, do not be afraid to ask to see the relevant documentation. The training can be physical and hazardous. You want to see that your training provider has insurance that stipulates close protection training.
What other accreditations and training history does your training provider have?
The best training providers will have more than one type of accreditation attached to them. A lack of substantial accreditation would suggest they are new to the industry. While being new is by no means a bad thing, it just means you need to do your own research that little bit more.
A list of accreditation does this for you however. By way of example, look out for links and awards such as: City & Guilds, Edexcel, Health & Safety Executive, MOD training provider, Enhanced Learning Credits. A great one to see on any SIA training providing website is ISO9001 Quality Assured.
Like anything, as long as you do your research you should find the training provider that is right for you, and will have made that important first step to becoming a fully licensed close protection officer.
The Close Protection Training Course
To be able to successfully apply for your SIA Licence for Close Protection Training, you will need to attend and take two training modules and take and pass one exam. Your chosen training provider should have a programme that is no less than 138 hours in duration.
Applying For Your SIA Close Protection Licence
Once you have successfully passed your Close Protection training course, it is time to apply for your SIA Close protection Licence.
Always remember to read the application form carefully. Make sure you fill everything that is required as well as provide all the necessary documentation.
What documents do I need?
The SIA requires that you send various identification documents. These include:
- Two identity documents from group A. One of the documents must show your address and at least one must show your date of birth.
- One identity document from group A and two documents from group B. Again the same as above applies, at least one document showing your address, the other your date of birth.
If you do send documents to the SIA, they will be returned to you by courier or post.
The following rules apply to any documents that are sent with your SIA Licence application:
- All documents must be originals
- The documents you send must confirm your correct name, current address and date of birth.
- Remove all documents from plastic holders, sleeves and wallets etc
- All documents must be in English, (or be translated from an approved translator)
You will also need a passport photograph, (45mm x 35mm in size) normal passport photo rules apply.
The new SIA Licence application process explained
The process of applying or renewing your SIA Licence was made easier last year as you can now do it all via the Post Office.
Now you can have your documents and photograph checked at your local post office.
The new process is designed to help prevent administrative errors and potential fraud.
Congratulations, you have now successfully passed the Close protection course and applied for your SIA licence.
Once your new licence has arrived in the post, it is time to start looking for that first close protection officer job.