Irish security regulations failing to oust 'cowboys'

Research conducted on behalf of the Irish Security Industry Association (ISIA) also revealed that one-third of customers who use security firms said they were unaware it was an offence to hire an unlicensed security provider.

The results of two research surveys - focussing on security firms and the customers who hire security - were released yesterday by the ISIA.

In the former, which surveyed 45 security firms of varying size, 38% of respondents said they were unhappy with elements of garda vetting of potential employees, primarily because it took too long. Some 80% of respondents said unlicensed operators were still working in the security sector.

In addition, 60% said licensing had been either very or fairly expensive and 45% had seen no benefits from regulation so far.

From April 1 last, all individual security guards or in-house security operatives must be fully licensed by the Government established Private Security Authority (PSA).

Any business who employs an unlicensed bouncer or security guard will face a fine of up to 3,000 or 12 months in jail, or both. The unlicensed door supervisor or guard will face the same penalty, but just 31% of customers had asked the security firms surveyed for a licence.

Yesterday, the ISIA said "substantial complaints" had been received by the PSA in relation to unlicensed operators. However, it said the length of time it was taking to bring cases to court also needed to be addressed.

ISIA President Martin Stairs said the association would be funding new training schemes and would also seek to apply pressure elsewhere in a bid to clear the vetting backlog.