Believe it or not here in the UK the locksmith industry as a whole is not regulated in any way by the Government, Police or an official regulatory body. Unfortunately this does mean that anyone can operate as a locksmith regardless of their capability, competence and training.
Finding a professional and qualified locksmith can be difficult if you don't know what you are looking for and it is important to make sure that the locksmith you hire is experienced and capable of carrying out the job or project that he or she has been tasked with.
So with no kind of official regulation want do you do? Well, first off my advice is to avoid large call centres as they will generally let anyone onto their books with little of no vetting and most of the time you don't even know what company actually turned up and whether they were in fact a locksmith at all. Remember, this is someone you are letting into you home, someone you are putting a lot of trust into, you don't want a third party simply sending someone out to you.
So what actually is a locksmith call centre? There are a number of these call centres popping up all over the country at the moment trying to cash in on the price comparison phenomenon. They are basically an agency offering locksmith services, but are not locksmith themselves. These centres tout themselves as having 1000's of calls a week for locksmith services and small independent locksmiths are cold called and persuaded to sign up with the promise of work.
Locksmith call centres claim to have locksmiths in every area of the UK, however people using them have found this to be untrue after waiting 4 or 5 hours for a locksmith then being told by the locksmith that he/she has travelled 100's of miles hence the 4/ 5 hours wait. The fees are also very high and typically include an extortionate call out fee, remember the call centre need to take their cut from every job.
My advice is to always use and independent locksmith that you have found yourself for emergency call out services, fees will be less as there is no middle man taking a cut and many don't even charge a call out fee, they will just bill you for the work carried out. Many people turn to the internet to search for a locksmith especially after a lock out where you are only equipped with a smart phone.
A local locksmith with usually have a local number, this is the easiest way to spot a local independent locksmith, some may have a national low rate number if they cover quiet a large area, if this is the case then a quick visit to their website should reveal their location, if a locksmith doesn't have at least an address on their website avoid as there is something not quiet right going on.
A qualified locksmith will usually have a decent mobile optimised website that will have their address at the very least and maybe a location map showing their location or the areas they cover. You will generally find a list of services they offer and most locksmiths offer an emergency call out service for home/business lock outs but not all locksmiths offer automotive services so make sure you check that they are suitable for the job.
Another thing to check for on a Emergency Locksmith Lancaster website is accreditations logos and references. Even though the locksmith industry is unregulated there are a number of unofficial bodies that a locksmith can be a voluntary member of, being a member of a number of these unofficial bodies is a good indication that they are professional and competent.