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The regulation of private security and its challenges in contemporary society: assessing the Security Industry Authority’s regulatory approach to door supervisors in the UK

Kostara, Fryni 2021. The regulation of private security and its challenges in contemporary society: assessing the Security Industry Authority’s regulatory approach to door supervisors in the UK. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Door supervisors (DS) are the largest licensable private security sector in the UK, with the SIA being the regulator responsible for administering and enforcing the regulatory regime. Previous research into the world of ‘bouncers’ has predominantly focused on their monoculture, associated with low professional standards, violence and criminality. Although these alleged qualities were the key drivers behind the introduction of regulation in 2001, the security industry is predominantly approached in previous studies as a general and homogeneous concept, resulting in a lack of in-depth research focus on how this vilified sector has developed in the post-regulation era. Against this backdrop, this study seeks to evaluate the SIA’s licensing and enforcement approach through documenting the narratives of the regulator and the DS sector (both on an individual and business level) and critically assessing the areas in which these converge or diverge with each other. The study draws upon the analysis of SIA annual reports, quantitative descriptive data, prosecution cases and interviews with SIA staff and DS, security companies and police officers across south-east Wales. Through exploring the transformation of the world of ‘bouncers’, this thesis reveals good progress in the SIA’s objective of ‘reform’; but it also highlights disparities between its strategic narrative and the occupational ‘lived realities’ in the sector. The findings also suggest that collaboration between the police and frontline operatives appeared to have improved, yet this is still essentially asymmetric, and there are specific micro dynamics that can enable or hinder cooperation. Overall, the regulatory response towards DS has been predominantly geared towards the ‘hard’ message, evident both at the point of being granted an SIA licence, as well as at translating the SIA’s enforcement-related activities into a clear-cut message that non-compliance is not tolerated. Yet, the SIA’s contribution in empowering the industry to address its contemporary challenges has not been equally dynamic when compared with its reform outputs. On the contrary, the regulatory approach towards DS companies has integrated the ‘soft’ message through supportive enforcement styles. However, this study’s findings suggest that regulatory proactivity in enforcement is restricted and therefore the SIA’s enforcement approach is largely premised on more reactive measures of limited effectiveness. The absence of regulatory oversight of security companies is identified as the key factor resulting in the lack of regulatory due diligence of corporate malpractices that affect both industry standards and public protection. Ultimately, this lopsided regulatory approach between the individual (DS) and business level is explored through the lens of ‘responsive regulation’ (Ayres and Braithwaite, 1992), yielding useful policy-related implications and recommendations for both the SIA and future regulatory research of the private security industry.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 June 2021
Last Modified: 19 May 2023 01:10

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