Training provider director jailed for 8 months for fraud

A former director of a training provider that falsified exam papers for individuals seeking to gain security guard licenses has been jailed for eight months.

Shamin Uddin, who headed up SAS Training Academy in Telford, Shropshire, was handed the sentence on March 29 at Shrewsbury Crown Court for fraud that was investigated in 2015.

He is also required to pay £2,000 court costs payable within 12 months.

This matter is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence is justified

The sentence brings to an end a four-year process initiated by the sector regulating body Security Industry Authority (SIA) that investigated malpractice at SAS Training’s operations in East London, its headquarters at Wednesbury in the West Midlands and in Inverness, Scotland.

It was prompted after an undercover BBC investigation aired in March 2015 alleged staff at Ashley Commerce College, in Ilford, were prepared to sit exams for students training to work as security guards.

The British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body then investigated SAS Training Academy Ltd’s premises in June 2015 after finding evidence of training malpractice.

The awarding organisation then suspended SAS Training Academy, withdrew their certification, and referred the complaint to the SIA which reviewed 270 qualifications.

The Honourable Recorder Jackson said this case “is particularly serious because it strikes at the heart of the (licensing) system … using training to deal with members of public.

“Organisations rely upon staff they believe to be properly trained to deal with those situations.

“The public needs to have confidence in those that work within the security industry.”

He added: “This matter is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence is justified due to possible effects of behaviour, that such offending has a wide ranging monetary effect on individuals and businesses.”

Nathan Salmon, one of the SIA’s criminal investigations manager’s, said: “We have satisfied ourselves that no licences were granted following Mr Uddin’s actions; a number of learners had to attend alternative courses with other training providers.

“The potential damage Mr Uddin might have done to the reputation of the private security industry is immeasurable. This action, brought against him as the proprietor of SAS Training by the SIA, demonstrates that any suspicious training provision will be identified and may be prosecuted.

“The SIA will not tolerate malpractice in the provision of training to an industry that is working hard to be respected and reputable.”

Ofqual published a report in January 2017 in response to concerns about qualifications used in the private security industry.

It led to the exams regulator auditing awarding organisations’ on the “control” they have over their individual centres, after finding evidence it has reduced in recent years.

By law, security operatives working under contract must hold and display a valid SIA licence.

During the British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body’s investigations in June 2015, verifiers found no candidates present at SAS Training Academy’s operations in Barking, Essex. The alleged exam room was said to be too small to fit the number of expected learners.

In the same month, the BIIAB made an unannounced external quality assurance visit to SAS Training Academy offices in Wednesbury. Investigators discovered that the correct answers had been highlighted on some exam papers in order to help candidates.

When questioned, Uddin denied that the examination process was insecure and allegedly refused to allow the awarding body’s representatives to talk with other members of staff present.

The awarding organisation had also became aware that candidates’ details were being changed at very short notice when the papers were submitted to them. In addition, SAS Training Academy were allegedly submitting examination paperwork to the BIIAB on photocopied sheets.

It became apparent during the SIA investigation that examination papers were being submitted to the BIIAB from various examination venues across the UK with false learner details being added to the list of genuine learners.

A trainer was interviewed regarding courses he allegedly provided on behalf of SAS Training Academy. He confirmed that he had not conducted the training, and disputed that it was his personal details and signature on the paperwork submitted. At other venues false details of alleged learners’ names had been added to examination paperwork.

SAS Training Academy Ltd ceased operating in December 2016.