SSAIB News

Alex Carmichael: SSAIB Adapting to Ever-Changing COVID-19 Coronavirus Situation

Alex Carmichael: SSAIB Adapting to Ever-Changing COVID-19 Coronavirus Situation

Over the past few months, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have conducted our audits remotely. This was done with the agreement with our main stakeholders – e.g. the Police, among others – and with the cooperation of you, our registered firms.  It has been a challenging time for us all and it is not over yet, so we thank you for all your support and flexibility during these uncertain times.

As Government begins lifting its restrictions on social mobility, we too are amending our auditing procedure to enable site audits to take place where it is safe and practical to do so. We still intend to carry out - with the agreement of our main stakeholders - remote audits, with site visits to your customers’ sites to verify the systems and services you deploy are in compliance with relevant standards, i.e. those applicable to your scope of registration with SSAIB.

SSAIB Bulletin 1108 - dated July 20, 2020 - describes how, and in what circumstances, onsite audits will be conducted. Our auditors will be in contact with you prior to an audit to confirm timings and ensure that COVID-19 secure arrangements are in place – both at the premises of the registered firm and, if applicable, at any customer sites that the auditor may wish to visit. This ensures the safety of our auditor, our registered firms’ staff and the staff of their customers as well.

SSAIB’s head office functions are continuing on a remote basis - as all staff are working from home. We are currently working to make our head office COVID-19 secure and expect that the head office will become partially operational in early September, but full services will continue as normal during this transition period.

Our aim is to ensure continuity of service to existing registered firms and to provide an opportunity for organisations seeking to gain certification for the first time. By continuing to offer certification services throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have fully supported the fire and security industry which provides essential services to the whole of the country.

All the changes we are putting in place currently will – of course – depend on the coronavirus situation, which is changing daily. Local lock downs are occurring and there is discussion of a “second wave.”

SSAIB is adapting to these situations and will adjust our services and operation to meet this ever-changing situation. We expect the current situation to continue until such time that an effective vaccine against the coronavirus is developed and a vaccination programme has been completed.

Once again, I can only thank you for your understanding and continued cooperation during this time.

Alex Carmichael
SSAIB
Chief Executive

Posted: 31/07/2020 more >

Alex Carmichael: SSAIB Adapting to Ever-Changing COVID-19 Coronavirus Situation

Alex Carmichael: SSAIB Adapting to Ever-Changing COVID-19 Coronavirus Situation

Over the past few months, due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have conducted our audits remotely. This was done with the agreement with our main stakeholders – e.g. the Police, among others – and with the cooperation of you, our registered firms.  It has been a challenging time for us all and it is not over yet, so we thank you for all your support and flexibility during these uncertain times.

As Government begins lifting its restrictions on social mobility, we too are amending our auditing procedure to enable site audits to take place where it is safe and practical to do so. We still intend to carry out - with the agreement of our main stakeholders - remote audits, with site visits to your customers’ sites to verify the systems and services you deploy are in compliance with relevant standards, i.e. those applicable to your scope of registration with SSAIB.

SSAIB Bulletin 1108 - dated July 20, 2020 - describes how, and in what circumstances, onsite audits will be conducted. Our auditors will be in contact with you prior to an audit to confirm timings and ensure that COVID-19 secure arrangements are in place – both at the premises of the registered firm and, if applicable, at any customer sites that the auditor may wish to visit. This ensures the safety of our auditor, our registered firms’ staff and the staff of their customers as well.

SSAIB’s head office functions are continuing on a remote basis - as all staff are working from home. We are currently working to make our head office COVID-19 secure and expect that the head office will become partially operational in early September, but full services will continue as normal during this transition period.

Our aim is to ensure continuity of service to existing registered firms and to provide an opportunity for organisations seeking to gain certification for the first time. By continuing to offer certification services throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have fully supported the fire and security industry which provides essential services to the whole of the country.

All the changes we are putting in place currently will – of course – depend on the coronavirus situation, which is changing daily. Local lock downs are occurring and there is discussion of a “second wave.”

SSAIB is adapting to these situations and will adjust our services and operation to meet this ever-changing situation. We expect the current situation to continue until such time that an effective vaccine against the coronavirus is developed and a vaccination programme has been completed.

Once again, I can only thank you for your understanding and continued cooperation during this time.

Alex Carmichael
SSAIB
Chief Executive

Posted: 31/07/2020 more >

SSAIB Pass on BT Update on BT Consumer All IP Programme

SSAIB Pass on BT Update on BT Consumer All IP Programme



SSAIB has been asked to forward this correspondence onto our registered firms by BT, regarding their ongoing all IP transformation.


Overview of BT’s all IP programme – Why are we doing this?

At BT Consumer we’re making some changes to the way we provide phone services. In line with all UK Communications Providers we’re upgrading our customers from the existing analogue phone service to an enhanced IP service.

For our customers the key change is that in most cases their telephone service will run over broadband. Phones will connect to the broadband router instead of being plugged into a phone socket on the wall. We aim to have all of our customers using fully digital phone services by the end of 2025 to coincide with the withdrawal of the PSTN service by Openreach.

We’re making these changes because the PSTN system is dated and it’s difficult to maintain. But equally, we’re all communicating differently too. VoIP, SKYPE, WhatsApp and more lately the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams are being increasingly used to communicate. These new apps offer converged telephony, better quality, HD Voice and many other additional features. And as we look ahead to the “Internet of Things” this will help bring a seamless integration between devices and networks.

What does this mean to you?

While moving to an all IP network promises exciting new communications services, some existing Special Services equipment connected to the old PSTN network may no longer work, including:

- Security alarms

- Fire alarms

- Personal (telecare pendant) alarms

Voice over the new IP network works very differently to the existing analogue network. If you’re a Special Services equipment manufacturer, service supplier, or alarm receiving centre any equipment or services that currently use the PSTN or ISDN networks need to be checked for compatibility.

We’ve been talking to key industry bodies, manufacturers and service providers for over two years now. We’ve emphasised the need to make sure that their customers know their security, fire, and personal alarms needs to be compatible when they switch to a Digital Voice service. BT Consumer’s Digital Voice product was launched in January 2020, so customers can potentially start switching to the digital network today.

We’ve welcomed many Special Services providers, equipment manufacturers to our test labs at Adastral Park. They’ve tested their equipment on the new all IP network and via BT’s interim analogue telephony adapter (ATA) built into our market leading Home Hubs. You can see who has tested their equipment at the lab and check with them to see if their equipment is compatible on this website.

Our lab is currently closed due to Covid19 safe working practices. We’re looking to reopen the lab as soon as it is safe to do so, but this is unlikely to be before September 2020. However you can still contact us if you have any technical queries or to discuss any further testing you think may be necessary. Just drop us an email.

Special Services users will soon be included in migrations

BT Consumer continues to exclude Special Services users from ordering the new Digital Voice product. There’s no technical barrier for these users, we’re doing this while we make sure robust processes are in place and to give Special Services provider’s time to get ready.

But, because this is an ambitious programme where everyone will need to move to all IP communications by the end of 2025, BT Consumer will soon allow Special Services users to take Digital Voice. So it’s really important that customers are ready for the change and that their equipment is either upgraded or adapted to work on an all IP network.

We’ll let you know when the exclusion is lifted as its likely service providers will start getting contacted by customers on the back of it.

Openreach WLR withdrawal update

Openreach is running trials in the Salisbury and Mildenhall exchange areas. The trials will enable Openreach and Communication Providers to test the best approach for migrating end customers and to understand the supporting processes needed.

In both trial areas Openreach will stop selling PSTN and ISDN lines in advance of the national date. In Salisbury this will be in December 2020, In Mildenhall it’s May 2021. Copper broadband and voice services will be withdrawn at the end of the trials in 2022.

As part of our engagement with Alarm and Telecare providers we’ll be asking them to help us identify operators with customers in the trial areas.  We’ll then be able to track the progress with these operators and customers and make sure there are no issues.

And Openreach have announced they will stop selling PSTN and ISDN products in a further 117 exchanges from June 2021. This will affect over 1.2 million customer premises and from that date you won’t be able to buy new analogue lines in these areas. Here’s a list of the exchanges.

Again as this date approaches and end customers start taking up all IP products, there may receive increased communication from service providers asking how they’ll be affected.

Support and future events

BT Consumer remains committed to supporting the Special Services industry. Our key aim is to ensure no customer is left without service during this change from analogue to digital.

We continue to engage with industry bodies in both the alarm and telecare industries, and whilst we are unable to personally attend any events (until September at least) we are keen to support virtual online events where practical. So if you need some support or would like us to get involved in an online event drop us an email.

And finally

Don’t forget, this is not a BT only programme and we’re working with the industry to create a consistent message. Special Services suppliers need to think about their strategy now to limit the impact of the all IP transition on their customers.

Here are some links to resources you may find useful:

Openreach trials site
Openreach exchanges with Stop Sell brought forward to June 2021
BT Consumer Digital Voice site
BT Consumer Who’s Tested page
Contact BT: btdigitalvoice@bt.com.

Posted: 24/07/2020 more >

SSAIB Embrace Technology Once More to Exhibit at Security TWENTY's Virtual Event

SSAIB Embrace Technology Once More to Exhibit at Security TWENTY's Virtual Event

Having seen our events schedule for 2020 decimated due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, SSAIB are back on the exhibition trail once again thanks to an innovative digital event organised by the team behind Professional Security Magazine.

The Security TWENTY20 Virtual Event – which is live now – perfectly encapsulates the travelling roadshows that Roy Cooper and his team usually take to all corners of the UK and Ireland. From the latest industry updates to top security industry speakers, the Security TWENTY20 events are aimed at end users, purchasers and those who specify security products.

Once lockdown had seen both ST20 Glasgow and ST20 Manchester re-arranged for the winter of 2020/21, the show’s organisers got in touch with PR & Communications Executive Glen Maxwell to discuss the leading UKAS-accredited certification body for the fire and security industries’ participation in this pioneering virtual event.

Glen commented: “Exhibitions and conferences, such as the Security TWENTY events, are usually a massive part of the make up of our sales and marketing portfolio every year – as we visit all areas of the UK and Ireland to catch up with our registered firms, discuss certification opportunities with potential new customers and all of the other added networking benefits that come from events like this that allow us to meet face-to-face with people.

“Obviously, due to the lockdown, it’s been nearly five months since we were last able to attend any sort of event in person. That’s why, when Liz [Lloyd, event manager] rang me and explained the concept to me, I was eager for SSAIB to get involved.

“We’ve massively embraced technology at SSAIB since the announcement of lockdown, with our audits and our working practices switching over to remote working and being a tremendous success - as it has allowed us to continue to provide certification and support to our registered firms through what has been a very testing time for everyone.

"Therefore, it made perfect sense for our attendance of events to follow suit as well and it’s great that the Professional Security team have developed this concept into an immersive online event experience.”

In addition to being able to visit SSAIB’s stand for the event, field operations manager David Roscoe is also one of the key speakers in the video theatre for the event – as he gives a standards update for the industry, in which he considers some of the upcoming changes that may be incorporated into any new standards expected in the near future.

Should you wish to attend this innovative digital exhibition, please pick up your virtual visitor’s pass at https://library.myebook.com/professionalsecurity/stve-2/2652/#page/1

Posted: 14/07/2020 more >

Influx of New SSAIB Firms During Coronavirus Pandemic Creates New Manned Services Assessor Vacancy

Influx of New SSAIB Firms During Coronavirus Pandemic Creates New Manned Services Assessor Vacancy

Owing to an increasing number of new SSAIB-registered firms who have applied during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the leading UKAS-accredited certification body for the security and fire industries have created a new opening within our auditing team.

This new full-time manned services assessor role will enable SSAIB to continue to certificate companies against the Security Industry Authority’s Approved Contractor Scheme across the UK and the Private Security Authority’s Licencing scheme in the Republic of Ireland - as well as a range of other product schemes relating to international and/or British Standards and the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s Code of Practice.

The role is ideal for any applicant that possess previous experience of working in the security industry at supervisory and/or management level and have a keen eye for detail, while some knowledge of the SIA’s Approved Contractor Scheme, British Standards Codes of Practice and ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 is also desirable.

Working from home with the opportunity to travel as well, the successful applicants will receive a salary commensurate with the role and a company car.

Full details for this role can be found in our Employment Opportunities section, while anyone looking to apply should forward their CV and a cover letter to Karen Rowley (karen@ssaib.co.uk.)

Posted: 09/07/2020 more >

SSAIB Keen to Inform Registered Firms of Special Funds for New Apprentices

SSAIB Keen to Inform Registered Firms of Special Funds for New Apprentices

Following Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s statement yesterday, SSAIB are eager to make our registered firms aware of the fact that there are new additional incentives for taking on apprentices and trainees - as we come out of the lockdown and get back to full work.

If anyone had been thinking of taking on an apprentice this year - before putting their plans to one side after lockdown was announced - then now is the time to look to your future and act fast, before all of the places are taken up.

The new FESS apprenticeship program has been a fantastic success in meeting the skill gap in this industry and, with training providers offering places for the coming year, there is no better time to invest in your company’s future with an apprentice (or two.)

Anyone interested in taking advantage of this new program are urged to contact SSAIB training manager Trevor Jenks, who can help interested parties identify training providers who will help them open the digital accounts needed to access the funding, and provide advice on taking on an apprentice.

The additional incentives - which are for England and Northern Ireland (Scotland and Wales have different funding, but Trevor can also help put people in touch with providers in those regions) - are as below:

1. For apprentices employed Aug 2020-Jan 2021 and aged 16-24, employers will get a £2000 incentive payment. If the apprentice is 16-18, a £1000 incentive bonus is also paid.

Meanwhile, those that are aged 25 and over will generate a bonus of £1500.

2. Traineeships remain the same, ie unpaid work experience.

3. Kickstart is for 16-24s on universal credit, who are at risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training.) They get paid minimum wage for 25 hours work in a 'new' job at an employer for 13 weeks, with the employers getting a £2000 incentive bonus.

Any interested parties looking for more information are invited to contact Trevor on 07889 807 047 to discuss the process of taking on an apprentice and where the providers offering the FESS apprenticeship are based.

Posted: 09/07/2020 more >

SSAIB Manned Services Update After SIA Recommence ACS Applications

New BS7858 Requirements

The new version of BS7858:2019 is now available on the portal so, if you have not done so already, you should review it and carry out a gap analysis to ensure your recruitment and vetting procedures are up-to-date. SSAIB have also published a bulletin on the key changes (see bulletin number 1105), but we wanted to remind you that there is a new requirement to carry out a financial sanction check on any new starters.

Find further information and a link to the financial sanctions list here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/financial-sanctions-consolidated-list-of-targets/consolidated-list-of-targets.

Coronavirus Q&A

Where can I find the latest government advice and support on coronavirus?

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Where can I get help on doing a coronavirus risk assessment for my business

https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm

When will the SIA accept new ACS applications?

The SIA started accepting new ACS applications from July 1. Any application that was received prior to this date and had been on hold also resumed processing.

The SIA have said that first-time (initial) assessments must be carried out entirely on site. We are happy to accept bookings, but we will postpone initial assessments until safe to do so.

Can I extend the scope of my company’s approval at the moment?

Yes. We can cover an extension to scope in your assessment, but the SIA have said a site visit will be required.

The SIA may grant the extension to scope on the condition that a site visit is completed at a later date.

Why haven’t I received my new ACS certificate yet?

The SIA’s head offices are currently closed, and all SIA staff are working from home, so - currently - the SIA cannot send out new ACS certificates. If you are asked by a client or other interested party to evidence that you are approved, you should direct them to your entry on the Register of Approved Contractors.

Can I postpone my ACS assessment after June 30?

The SIA initially allowed all ACS companies to defer their assessment for three months without the need to apply for this.

This automatic deferral ended on June 30, but any company experiencing difficulties - as a result of coronavirus - may request an extension or further extension by contacting the SIA, via their business account, and explaining the reason for the request. The SIA will consider requests on a case-by-case basis.

Remote Assessment Q&A

Can I have a remote assessment?

All ACS reverification and renewal assessments are being carried out on a part-remote basis, but we cannot offer them for initial (Year 1) assessments.

Please note that if your approval has lapsed and you have reapplied for approval, your assessment will be treated as an initial assessment - regardless of the length of time you may have been previously approved.

A part-remote assessment covers 29 mandatory indicators (out of a total of 78 indicators.) Day One of the assessment is carried out remotely, while Day Two will focus on service-delivery - including customer site visits and observation of front-line staff carrying out their duties.

We are also carrying out surveillance and recertification product assessments remotely. UKAS rules stipulate that we cannot carry out new certifications remotely where there would be a requirement to carry out site visits.

Will I still be ACS approved if I choose a part-remote assessment?

Yes! Your assessment is held open and will not be scored until Day Two is completed. Your approval is unaffected.

How do you carry out remote assessments?

If possible, we will try to use videoconferencing facilities for interviewing your staff. We will test this with you before the assessment as part of the planning process. We will also give you some guidance on planning for your remote assessment and discuss sampling arrangements - i.e. choosing a selection of clients and staff whose records we will review during the assessment.

In addition, we will set up a password-protected OneDrive folder for you to upload documents and records safely and securely. The entire folder - and its contents - will be deleted within five days of the remote assessment and we will notify you once we have done this.

How should I plan for my remote assessment?

We recommend you give yourself more time than usual before the assessment to locate relevant documentation and upload it into your folder (the planning guidance will help you decide what to choose.)

Should I involve staff and customers in my remote assessment?

We understand that the coronavirus has put UK businesses and their staff under severe pressure.  Your clients may – understandably - be reluctant to take part in the remote assessment, so it is fine to defer client interviews until Day 2 of your assessment.

If you have any staff who are furloughed, you should not ask them to take part in the remote assessment - as to do so may breach HMRC rules. You should involve non-furloughed staff (e.g. security staff, human resources, finance, directors etc) in the remote assessment, just as you would for a face-to-face assessment.

I have already had a remote assessment. When will SSAIB complete my assessment?

All part-remote assessments will be followed by an additional service-delivery focused day. We will continue to follow government guidelines and will resume site-based activity when it is safe for our clients and staff to do so.

We will contact all companies who need a site-based day to arrange this nearer the time.

Should you have any further questions that have not been addressed here, please phone us on 0191 296 3242 or email your query to ssaib@ssaib.org.

Posted: 06/07/2020 more >