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Scrutiny of security and investigator reforms

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Associate Minister of Justice

1 December 2006 Media Statement

Scrutiny of security and investigator sector reforms

A range of proposals to modernise and expand the scope of regulations covering the security guard and private investigator industry will be put out for targeted consultation early next year said the Associate Justice Minister Clayton Cosgrove today.

The proposals are the result of an extensive review of the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act 1974.

Mr Cosgrove said the consultation would put the proposed reforms under the microscope before the drafting of a Bill to modernise the outdated legislation.

"This short round of targeted consultation by Ministry of Justice officials with key stakeholders - including the Police, the Privacy Commissioner, regulators, and industry organisations – will ensure that the law reform takes into account any recent changes in the operating environment or current developments such as the review of the Police Act," he said.

Mr Cosgrove said the proposed reforms seek to raise standards in the security and private investigation industry. The proposals include making training mandatory for security staff as a condition of licensing, and tougher penalties and enforcement to exclude unlicensed firms and individuals from the industry.

The Government will also look at expanding the licensing regime for security guards to include crowd controllers, bodyguards and other categories of security personnel, such as staff at confidential document destruction firms.

New Zealand First Law and Order spokesperson, Ron Mark, has welcomed the review, saying it would provide the necessary checks and balances on the industry, which had been broadening the scope of its responsibilities in recent years.

"It is pleasing to see the Government taking action on the concerns I have raised regarding the security industry, in particular security guards working without licenses. The risk of having inappropriate and unqualified people carrying out this type of work is too great," he said. "Tighter controls will address safety concerns and raise public confidence in the industry."

Mr Cosgrove said he wanted to thank Ron Mark for his support in bringing a renewed sense of urgency to the reform of the security industry.

The review would also consider how the legislation could best strike the right balance between a person's right to privacy, and covert photography or recording of conversations by private investigators during the course of criminal investigations.

Mr Cosgrove said he plans to introduce amending legislation by mid 2007.


Background Information

What is the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act 1974?
The Act provides for private investigators and security guards to be licensed and imposes a number of duties on licensees and their responsible employees. Under the current requirements of the Act, security guards and their employers need a certificate of approval or a license to guard property. This is to ensure that, as far as possible, only fit and proper people work in the security industry.
Private investigator and security guard license holders are vetted by the police and, (unless the Registrar is satisfied that there are special factors that support registration), cannot have criminal convictions in the proceeding five years for an offence against dishonesty, or other specified offences such as intimidation, assault, wounding with intent, and disorderly behaviour.
The licensing regime under the current Act does not include crowd controllers, such as "bouncers" or security staff at events, or bodyguards.

Why has the Act been reviewed?
The current Act is outdated, so the review was undertaken with the objective of updating the licensing regime and modernising the Act to better reflect current industry practices and to address public safety concerns.

What decisions has the government made so far?
The key reforms proposed by the government to date are to:
- Extend coverage of the licensing regime for security guards to include crowd controllers (i.e. licensed premises door keepers and security staff at events) as well as other categories not included under the current Act, including bodyguards and staff at confidential document destruction firms
- Make it mandatory for security staff to undertake training as a condition of licensing – a requirement for training will apply to security industry personnel guarding property and also to crowd controllers and bodyguards
- Exclude unlicensed firms and individuals from the security industry – partly by having heavier penalties and new offences, and partly by an improved administrative and enforcement regime, funded from licensing revenue

Why is security staff licensing being extended?
There are a range of people in the security industry who can currently work without being covered by the licensing regime, including crowd controllers such as door keepers on licensed premises and bodyguards. The risk to the public of having unqualified people carrying out this type of work has been assessed as being too great and it has been proposed that they should be regulated.

What training will be required?
The details of training are yet to be developed, and will involve consultation with the Police and the security and hospitality industries. Crowd controllers, bodyguards and security industry personnel who guard property would eventually all need to undertake formal training, or else to demonstrate that they already have the skills required. This is consistent with the training requirements for security staff in Australia.

Why is the government undertaking further consultation before drafting a Bill?
The government wishes to ensure that the policy decisions that have been made are still appropriate. This enables reforms to take into account any recent changes in the industry or upcoming issues, such as the security needs at “mega-events” in New Zealand such as 2011 Rugby World Cup and the 2010 world rowing championships.


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