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Swain Announces Changes to Security Industry

20 June, 2002 Media Statement

Swain Announces Changes to Security Industry

Minister of Commerce Paul Swain announced the government’s ‘in principle’ decisions about the direction of the overhaul of the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act today.

“Everyone who currently requires a licence under the Private investigators and Security Guards Act will continue to require a licence,” said Mr Swain

“What is likely to be a new feature of the legislation is that persons carrying on the business of providing, bodyguard services, security consultancy, confidential document destruction, and crowd control (for instance, at licensed premises or at a sports event) will also require a licence.”

In addition, all crowd controllers, whether employed by a licensee under the Act or not, will require a certificate of approval. Mr Swain said, he was influenced by the risks to person and property posed by unregulated crowd controllers in recommending this change. “The definition of crowd controller will cover someone employed principally to keep order which in the case of licensed premises, is more-or-less synonymous with bouncers. Ordinary bar staff will not be covered.

“It is difficult to justify leaving those performing this role outside the ambit of the Act, given the potential for this work to both prevent and precipitate violent confrontation. Requiring certification of crowd controllers does no more than bring us into line with Australia.”

The government has also decided in principle to drop the current requirement that any applicant for a licence or certificate of approval is a ‘proper person’ to hold the licence or certificate or, in the case of a company, that the Registrar must be satisfied as to the ‘personal character and fitness’ of each officer of the company.

“There has been a move in recent years in occupational licensing towards ‘objective’ criteria for granting, refusing or canceling licences,” said Mr Swain. “Such criteria can be readily verified, unlike the more subjective judgments required for the ‘proper person’ test.

“The use of objective criteria makes the process easier, less expensive to administer and more transparent. A number of objective criteria, for example the absence of relevant convictions in the previous five years, will be specified in the Act as a requirement for licensing. But to avoid unfairness in some cases the licensing body will retain some discretion to enable individual circumstances to be considered in appropriate cases.”

The present lack of enforcement of the Act should not continue, said Mr Swain. “The government is looking at ways of improving enforcement. One option being given serious consideration is to fund enforcement through a levy on licence and certificate holders paid for by certificate and license fees.

“Any sum levied would reflect the extent of enforcement activity expected to be associated with this Act only. It would not go towards other purposes.

“Final decisions on the most appropriate placement of this enforcement unit have yet to be made, as have the maximum level of financial penalties for breach of the Act. Current penalties are out of line with those imposed in similar legislation. It is likely that they will be increased and set with deterrence in mind.”

The government also considers that licenses and certificates should only have to be renewed every five years, not annually as at present, said Mr Swain.

He said the government’s ‘in principle’ decisions would be subject to implementation details being worked out, including costs. “Nevertheless the form of the new legislative regime is taking place. All going well I expect final decisions on the review to be made later this year.”


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