Thousands of licensed security guards could be working in the UK fraudulently after buying qualifications for cash, a BBC investigation has found.
Jobseekers must sit mandatory exams to get a Security Industry Authority card.
But undercover researchers found colleges happy to sit or forge exams for untrained students for a fee.
With a fraudulently obtained SIA licence, a researcher got a job offer at a power station and an interview to guard Canary Wharf.
Keith Vaz MP called it “a major scandal” and “one of the most shocking things I’ve seen in all the years I’ve chaired the Home Affairs Select Committee”.
Industry insiders had told the BBC large numbers of colleges were willing to help students cheat security exams.
One former SIA employee, speaking anonymously, said a high number of colleges were breaking the rules.
He went on: “Thousands of people [are] working in the industry illegally, having obtained accreditation illegally.”
The BBC sent an undercover reporter posing as a student to Ashley Commerce College, in Ilford, east London.
The college offered to “fast track” the researcher to becoming a qualified bodyguard – which the SIA says should take 140 hours of training.