Locksmiths are a bit like spare underwear- you don’t think about it until you REALLY need them. But unlike spare underwear, it’s easy to find a locksmith in an emergency situation. When you do, you put a lot of trust into that person, who helps you to open and secure locks and access systems. They are a key part of protecting your home, business premises and even your vehicles. So trust is incredibly important.
So what would you say if we told you that the UK locksmith industry isn’t technically regulated?
Who Regulates UK Locksmiths?
In terms of governmental regulations, the locksmithing industry has none. This can seem a little scary, since anyone can set up as a locksmith and use it to gain access to your home. And sadly, that does happen sometimes. but rarely. Because of this lack of national regulation, several independent industry bodies have formed. with the aim of bringing some governance to the industry. Locksmiths sign up to these programmes voluntarily, and often have to prove a level of competency and trustworthiness, going through many tests before their membership is approved. Once approved, they can display the bodies’ logo, and customers will feel safe working with them. While there are a few different governing bodies around, the largest by far is the Master Locksmiths Association, or MLA.
What Does The Master Locksmiths Association Do?
The Master Locksmiths Association is essentially the main trade body for locksmiths in the UK. It was founded specifically in response to the lack of industry regulation, They have been going since 1958, and their main aim is to control and regulate locksmithing, keeping it safe for everyone.
Now, The MLA have members in multiple countries, and are providing the gold standard for locksmiths everywhere. They offer training, resources and support as well as accreditations, and you can always tell on MLA approved locksmith by the logo they can display. As people who have been through the process of becoming MLA approved locksmiths, we can tell you that the process is tough. We wrote a full blog on what it takes to become an MLA approved locksmith, which you can read here.
Why Is There No Official Regulation?
Honestly? Because the government seems to think the industry isn’t in need of regulation. Which given the sensitive nature of the profession is a little baffling. Other areas of the security industry are government regulated (for example door staff security system installers and even key holding companies), but somehow locksmithing has never made the grade. So really, anyone can rock up with a lock picking set from Amazon and call themselves a locksmith.
And believe us, it does happen. Let’s look at some data here. There are around 6,500 locksmith companies and freelance locksmiths operating in the UK right now. the MLA only has 338 approved members in the UK. That’s an awful lot of unregulated, unsupervised locksmiths out there!
Don’t believe us? Read this story from just last year, when a locksmith hired by HMP Wandsworth made concrete moulds of cell keys, which he then sold to inmates and their families. He was sentenced to 4 years in jail, and government had to spend £422,000 changing 840 high security locks and keys. But he was likely hired based on price, rather than skill. Which just highlights how important regulation and the MLA is – even the government fell victim to a rogue trader without it!
My Locks Locksmith in Farnborough are approved by the MLA, and are proud to be a member. All of our locksmiths meet the high standards set out, which means you can trust us to get the job done, and done well. If you would like any more information on us or our qualifications, just get in touch with the team today.