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Minister/Police warned about security licensing

PRESS RELEASE: Minister/Police warned about security licensing loopholes
New Zealand Security Officers Association
22 June 2006

The Minister of Police, Annette King and the New Zealand Police were warned late last year about the threat posed to the public by unlicensed guards, the New Zealand Security Officers Association said today.

In a letter sent to the Minister in December of last year, the New Zealand Security Officers Association highlighted five cases in which unlicensed guards had been caught stealing from properties they were meant to be guarding. The Minister referred the letter to the New Zealand Police so they could respond directly to the NZSOA.

The Police later confirmed that in that two of the five cases highlighted by the NZSOA, licensing procedures under the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act 1974 had not been followed and that offences had been committed under the Act.

In one case, an unlicensed security officer received an eight month sentence in the Christchurch District Court in December of last year for using pin numbers for burglar alarms that he was entrusted in the course of his employment with a security company to burgle a property. In a surprising twist to this case, $500 was awarded for emotional harm to the security company who had employed him, the same company that had failed to ensure that the offending employee was licensed.

In the other case, another unlicensed security guard working in a public hospital was convicted of theft after stealing money donated by hospital staff to the victims of the Asian tsunami disaster.

In both cases, the police declined to bring a prosecution against either the offending employees or their employers, for offences under the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act 1974.

The Police told the NZSOA that no regulatory system was perfect and this was aptly illustrated by the fact that wrong element occasionally make their way into the ranks of the police force. They also pointed out that in the two cases in which offences had been committed under the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act 1974, it is unlikely that moves to ensure licensing would have prevented the convicted guards from entering the security industry as the offences they committed in the course of their employment were first time offences.

A spokesperson from the New Zealand Security Officers Association said that while it could be argued that no system of regulation will entirely prevent a bad element from entering the industry, there was no excuse for the Police to give up enforcing the law.

“Because of previous complacency, a serious situation has now arisen on the doorstep of a Wellington Police Station. In this respect, the Police should accept responsibility for their actions, or rather in this case, their inactions,” he said.


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