In Ireland, Private Security Industry Faces Closer Scrutiny

The workings of the private security industry are set to come under increased scrutiny following the signing of a memorandum between the Private Security Authority (PSA) and the Revenue Commissioners yesterday.

The new agreement allows for closer co-operation between the two organisations and establishes new channels to exchange information. Earlier this month, figures published in The Irish Times indicated that up to 5,000 door supervisors and private security guards had yet to apply for licences from the PSA.

This was despite the introduction of mandatory licensing of the sector in April, indicating that a significant number were continuing to work in the "informal economy".

It is thought that in particular door supervisors, or bouncers, may not have applied due to the "cash in hand" nature of much of this work.

Under the new memorandum of understanding, the Revenue and the PSA, which regulates the security industry in Ireland, will undertake joint interventions where deemed necessary.

It also sets out clear channels and timeframes for the exchange of relevant information.

The agreement was signed by PSA chief executive Geraldine Larkin and the collector general of the Revenue Commissioners, Gerry Harrahill, at the PSA offices in Tipperary yesterday.

Ms Larkin said discussions were under way with other State agencies with a view to completing similar agreements.

It is thought that similar agreements may be signed in future between the PSA and agencies such as the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the labour inspectorate.

"This memorandum lays the foundation for future co-operation between both our organisations," she said. "The signing of this agreement gives a clear signal to unlicensed operators that they will receive the full attention of both organisations."

The PSA has to date issued licences to 709 contractors working in a range of sectors, including door supervisors, static security guards and installers of intruder alarms.

But it has also refused 78 applications, while another 21 applicants have withdrawn their application. Six contractors have been prosecuted for providing security services without a licence.

At the launch of its annual report last month, the chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, Frank Daly, said the security industry was one of those his officials would target this year.

Mr Harrahill yesterday described the new memorandum as an "important development" in facilitating close co-operation between the two bodies.

The aim was to maximise compliance both with the licensing requirements of the PSA and the requirements of Revenue in relation to tax matters, he added.