‘Enforcement guards’ to come within remit of the Private Security Authority
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has announced plans to regulate private security personnel employed to assist in enforcing court orders (“enforcement guards”). Bringing such personnel within the licensing remit of the Private Security Authority (PSA) is the key recommendation of an Interdepartmental Working Group report brought to Government by the Minister today.
Minister Flanagan said: “I strongly believe that those providing security should operate to appropriate standards. Bringing security personnel enforcing court orders within the remit of the Private Security Authority will mean that enforcement guards will require a license to operate in this area and ensure that they are subject to the training standards and licensing regime operated by the PSA. I am pleased that my proposal for legislative change was endorsed by Cabinet today”
Last autumn, Minister Flanagan asked his officials to review the regulation and licensing of some security personnel to determine if those enforcing court orders were satisfactorily regulated. The Interdepartmental Working Group examined the administrative, legislative, resource, security and other matters necessary to bring the regulation and licensing of security personnel assisting those enforcing court orders within the remit of the Private Security Authority. The amendments to the Private Security Act 2004 will create a new category of security service to be licensed, that of enforcement guards.
Licensing by the PSA includes:
- payment of a fee;
- the vetting of persons providing a security service (including directors, shareholders and company secretary of a body corporate. Persons who reside or have resided outside the jurisdiction are required to submit foreign criminal record certificates);
- compliance with PSA Standards in relation to training and minimum standards for employers.
When the necessary amendments to primary legislation and secondary legislation for the enforcement guard sector are in place, it will be an offence to operate as an enforcement guard without a PSA licence.
Following today’s Cabinet decision, Department of Justice and Equality officials will now work with the Attorney General to bring forward draft amendments to the Private Security Services Act 2004 (as amended).
Notes for editors:
Role of An Garda Síochána
An Garda Síochána does not have a role in enforcing court orders. Where such orders are being enforced, An Garda Síochána, where appropriate, assist with keeping the peace.
Private Security Authority
The Private Security Authority (PSA) is an independent body under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Equality. The Authority is responsible for licensing and regulating the private security industry in Ireland.
The PSA’s main functions are:
- the granting and renewing of security licences;
- controlling and monitoring the provision of security services;
- the specifying of the standards and qualifications to be observed by those providing security service;
- maintaining a register of licensees.
Section 2 of the Private Security Services Act 2004, as amended, sets out the definition of ‘security service’. The services currently licensable by the Private Security are:
(a) door supervisor,
(b) installer of security equipment,
(c) private investigator,
(d) security consultant,
(e) security guard,
(f) provider of protected forms of transport,
(h) supplier or installer of safes.
Enforcement Guards will be added to the list of services licensable, following enactment of the relevant primary legislation.
When the necessary amendments to primary legislation and secondary legislation for the Enforcement Guard sector are in place, it will be an offence to operate as an Enforcement Guard without a PSA licence. It will also be an offence to represent oneself as an Enforcement Guard by advertisement or displaying any object purporting to indicate that the holder is a licensed Enforcement Guard. For both offences a person may be liable for a Class A fine or imprisoned for up to 12 months or both on summary conviction. A conviction on indictment can lead to imprisonment up to 5 years or imposition of a fine.
Key recommendations of Interdepartmental Working Group report
- Enforcement guards performing the following functions are brought within the licensing remit of the Private Security Authority
a) removing persons from a premises or place in order to take legal possession of the premises or place;
b) controlling, supervising, regulating or restricting entry to a premises or place in order to take legal possession of the premises or place;
c) seizing property or goods in lieu of an outstanding debt.
- The Act will be amended by inserting a further exemption for licensing by the PSA, for those engaged in the enforced collection of Revenue liabilities by a Sheriff. Where in exceptional circumstances there is a need to engage security personnel protocols will be updated to include a requirement that such personnel are licensed by the PSA.
- The Authority shall make the register of licensed personnel available for inspection free of charge by members of the public—
a) at its principal office during normal working hours, and
b) on its Internet website in such a manner that the section of that website which contains the Register is readily accessible by members of the public.
- Repeal Section 4(4) of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act 1926. This provides for court offices to display the Courts Messengers' names and places of residence. This provision has posed a risk to the health and safety of County Registrars and Court Messengars carrying out their dutes.
- Amend Section 2 of the Enforcement of Law (Occasional Powers) Act 1924 to make it a requirement that when the Under-Sheriff is engaging security staff it would be a requirement for the security staff to have a PSA licence.
- Secondary legislation to be introduced following enactment of primary legislative amendments to make it an offence to engage security personnel assisting in the enforcement of court orders who are not licensed by the PSA.
- The PSA develop standards and training for the licensing of this sector, following the enactment of enabling legislation.
The full report can be read at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Working_Group_Report_on_regulation_and_licensing_of_sec_pers_Ct_Orders.pdf/Files/Working_Group_Report_on_regulation_and_licensing_of_sec_pers_Ct_Orders.pdf