Committee Reports::Report No. 04 - Controls on the private security industry::30 October, 1984::Appendix

Foscríbhinn B

Appendix B

Ceist Pharlaiminte — Freagra ón Aire Dlí agus Cirt ar 23 Deireadh Fómhair, 1979.

Parliamentary Question — Answer by Minister for Justice on 23rd October, 1979.

“The introduction of any system of registration of security firms raises issues of considerable difficulty. The first question to be decided is whether the registration system is to be one that provides for scrutiny of those entering the business with a view to excluding certain people whose honesty is or may be in question or whether, on the other hand, it is to be designed to set quality standards for the service provided, or whether it is intended to achieve both objectives.

A system providing for exclusion of persons from the business on the basis of, say, a past criminal record could raise serious issues relating to the rights of the people concerned, perhaps especially so if the exclusion were discretionary as questions could arise as to the reasons for excluding one and not another. On the other hand an automatic exclusion on the basis of a criminal record would be open to obvious other criticisms and, moreover, if that were to be the objective it could be provided for directly by law without any registration requirement. Even more difficult issues would be raised if what was involved was the denial, or revocation, of registration on the basis that the person’s reputation was not good, even though he had not been convicted. It is clear that issues on which a person’s livelihood would depend could not be decided arbitrarily but only on the basis of evidence and that the evidence would have to be such as to satisfy a court. There would be a question of what qualities, or lack of qualities, would form the basis of the decision.

The matter is further complicated by the fact that not only the members of the firm but also any employees would have to be assessed if the registration system were to achieve the objective sought. Apart from the wide-ranging scope of such a system there would be a question whether persons who had been convicted could reasonably be expected to volunteer that information to prospective employers and, if not, how the restriction on them, even if it were thought to be reasonable, would be enforceable.

If the registration scheme were to attempt to provide for minimum standards of commercial practice by those engaged in the business, serious questions would likewise arise as to the criteria to be applied in the determination of those standards — serious because of the inherent seriousness of any system in which the livelihood of a person, or perhaps of many persons, would be in danger of being taken away and because this is not something on which recognised guidelines are available. The difficulties of establishing guidelines will be evident.

Presumably because of difficulties of the kind mentioned, it is not alone in this country that the question of supervision of firms engaged in the provision of private security has presented problems which, according to the information available to me, have so far not been solved. In virtually all Western European countries the growth and development of the private security business have given rise to much the same questions — and much the same problems. In some countries there are controls concerning the use of firearms by such firms, as of course there are here. In some other there is a form of registration but not, apparently, one of a kind that provides any really effective control over standards.

The issues are, therefore, very complex. I have been in consultation with interests in this country who have made representations to me and I have received submissions from some of them. Those submissions are being examined. I am also keeping in touch with developments elsewhere in Europe because, as I have indicated, both the growth in the security business and the difficulties of providing for standards in it are problems for most of the countries in question. It will be apparent, however, that I cannot at this stage give any indication that the fundamental problems I have touched on are likely to be quickly resolved”.