Business / Tall Ships team backs local security training for ‘benefit of Shetland as a whole’

There continues to be a shortage of SIA certified stewards in Shetland, which is restricting large standing events

THE TEAM behind the Tall Ships event in Lerwick next year says it is keen to get support for providing security training in Shetland amid a continued lack of certified stewards in the isles.

The organisers recently tendered for full security services for indoor and outdoor events at the 2023 summer shindig, and this is set to be from a mainland company due to the size of the contract.

They hope to supplement any south firm with local stewards, but an ongoing lack of Security Industry Authority (SIA) certified staff in the isles has meant that Lerwick arts venue Mareel, for instance, is unable to host full standing gigs in its auditorium.

However, project manager Emma Miller said the Tall Ships crew are interested in supporting local SIA training.

At the moment training for an SIA licence is not available in Shetland, and a move by local company Blyde Welcome to run a course this year fell through due to a lack of uptake.


Miller said security is “certainly an issue, but one we are aware of”.

During the last Shetland Tall Ships, held in 2011 when there were a number of local SIA trained stewards, additional crews still had to be brought in from the mainland due to the size of the event.

Emma Miller. Photo: Shetland News

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while and we currently have a tender out for a security company to manage the whole contract,” Miller said.

“We will be discussing the use of local bodies with them and are having ongoing discussions with various agencies about trying to get support for providing SIA training locally for the benefit of events in Shetland as a whole, not just Tall Ships.

“I think it’s really important for us to try and help with this wherever we can.”

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Chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s licensing board Neil Pearson said he was “very aware” of the shortage.

“I am hoping to work with industry to seek a solution to licensed door staff shortages as soon as possible so that large scale events and events where crowd security is necessary will be able to continue,” he said.

The SIA website says it costs £190 to apply for a licence, which lasts for three years.

Shetland Arts previously proposed a local training course but suggested a scheme where interested parties could contribute to the cost – which did not sit too well with promoters who hire out Mareel for concerts.

It means there has not been a full-scale standing event in the Mareel auditorium since before the Covid pandemic.

A spokesperson for the arts agency said there was no update on the situation at this stage.


Shetland Arts chief executive Graeme Howell previously said that the issue is an “upshot of a number of SIA licence holders either deciding to let their licence lapse during the pandemic or deciding to no longer work in the industry” – and this has combined with a wider shortage in hospitality staff.

Minutes from a Shetland Arts board meeting in December highlights that the arts agency only need security staff two to three times a year, but outside hirers usually use them six to seven times.

The minutes said there is a “concern that if SADA [Shetland Arts Development Agency] solves the problem this year it may be expected to every time”.

They add that standing events are not the “core business” of Shetland Arts.

Regarding the proposal for a “joint service vehicle” where members contribute towards the cost of training, Howell was quoted as saying that the council – which part funded the capital cost of building Mareel – should “step up and provide this service if no-one else does”.


He said it was not the agency’s responsibility to provide that service.

Meanwhile the operator of the Clickimin Leisure Complex, which can host large concerts, said it was aware of the situation and an issue that management is looking into.

Shetland Folk Festival did not host its usual large standing gig at its 2022 festival following its return from Covid postponements, and instead put on smaller standing events at the Lerwick Legion.

But committee member Mhari McLeman said the hope is that it could host one in 2023 – “but our ability to stage this at Mareel or Clickimin will depend on the availability of enough SIA licensed stewards”.

Please note:

Shetland Arts kindly alerted us to an error we made in above article when we said that Shetland Islands Council “part funds” Mareel. That is not the case.
We meant to say that the SIC part funded the capital cost of building Mareel. The above news copy has now been corrected and we apologise for the error.

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