The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has endorsed a voluntary regulatory scheme for private security companies operating in armed conflict zones. In a written statement to the UK parliament, the FCO specified ASIS PSC1-2012 as the standard for UK-based PSCs working in conflict zones overseas.
ASIS is heavily involved in the writing of security standards and is approved to author standards by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
In the written statement to Parliament, Mark Simmonds MP said, “The Government aims to raise the global standards of private security companies (PSCs) working in complex and high risk environments overseas… Certification to professional standards is the next step towards effective voluntary regulation.” Simmonds is the parliamentary under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs.
The UK government has been addressing the issue of PSCs for several years now. It endorsed the Montreux Document in 2008, an agreement between signature countries regarding private military and security companies in war zones.
In 2010, an International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICOC) was created which provides a set of principles to guide companies. As of December 2012, the ICOC had been signed by 554 companies from 64 countries. Britain is home to 190 signatory companies, followed by the USA with 60, South Africa with 21, Australia with 18 and Pakistan with 14.
The ICOC mandated the development of auditable standards for PSCs which led the US Department of Defense to fund ASIS to develop a standard which became PSC1. The standard was developed in consultation with dozens of experts from around the globe including representatives from the UK government, industry and civil society. It was published in March 2012 as an approved ANSI standard and is today the only approved standard for PSCs in conflict zones.
“PSCs need to conduct their business and provide services in a manner that respects human rights and laws,” says Dr. Marc Siegel, commissioner, ASIS International Global Standards Initiative and chairman of the Technical Committee. “This standard serves as a differentiator for PSCs to assure quality of services while maintaining the safety and security of their operations with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The standard, developed by over 200 Technical Committee members from 24 countries, will help PSCs provide better services while abiding by applicable laws and respecting human rights of all parties while working in complex and high risk environments overseas It behooves any client from either the public or private sectors to follow the lead of the US and UK governments and use the PSC.1 standard in their contracting process for their use of PSCs operating on land in complex environments overseas.”
Mike Hurst, vice chairman for strategy at the UK Chapter of ASIS told SecurityNewsDesk that a number of UK members of ASIS were involved in drafting the standard: Peter French CPP of SSR Personnel, Christopher Aldous CPP PSP of Into Services Ltd, Allison Wylde CRM MA of London Metropolitan University Business School and Gavin Wilson PSP of BHP Billiton.
Hurst said: “ASIS International is an ANSI Accredited Standards Developer and has produced some great work over the years. Several members of the UK Chapter contributed to the ASIS PSC 1-2012 standard for the regulation of private security companies operating overseas and full credit must go to them and our ASIS colleagues internationally. The UK Chapter is delighted that HMG will be adopting this standard.”
He added that the ASIS UK Chapter also led on the ASIS/ANSI Security Management Standard for Physical Asset Protection. The UK Chapter lead on that standard, Allison Wylde, later won the Imbert Prize from the Association of Security Consultants for her work on this.
The trade association Security in Complex Environments Group (SCEG) will develop guidance to help British PSCs meet the requirements of the new standards, according to the FCO.
In a statement, the SCEG said, “SCEG members have contributed to the development of this important standard and recommended it to the British government. The standard gives full effect to the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Companies which they have signed, and they are keen to seek formal certification against that standard responding to the Government’s declared aim to have a single internationally agreed standard.
“PSC1 was recently submitted to the International Standards Organisation (ISO) to be considered for adoption as an international standard for private security companies working in complex environments.”