Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (719)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

841 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the category of persons who will be disqualified from holding a licence to operate a private security firm; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1129/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

The Private Security Services Bill 2001, which is currently awaiting Report Stage in the House, provides for the establishment of a body, to be known as the Private Security Authority, to control and supervise individuals and firms providing security services. The principal function of the authority will be to operate a licensing system for providers of security services to maintain and improve standards within the sector.

Provisions relating to the grant of licences are set out in section 21 of the Bill. Applications for licences must be accompanied by such references as to the applicant's character and competence as the authority may require. Section 35 requires an applicant for a licence, or a licensee who has been convicted of an offence, other than a prescribed offence, or against whom proceedings for such an offence are pending, to notify the authority of the conviction or proceedings in a prescribed manner.

For the purposes of assessing an application, the authority may require an applicant to furnish additional information and may require verification by affidavit of any information provided by the applicant. A certificate by a member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of superintendent may also be required. Section 33 of the Bill enables the authority to request the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána to provide any information requisite for the due performance of its functions regarding any applicant for a licence or any licensee, and the Commissioner shall comply with any such request.

Section 22 of the Bill provides that the authority shall refuse to grant a licence where, on the basis of the information provided to it, the applicant is not a fit and proper person to provide a security service. In the case of companies and partnerships, the conditions apply to directors and partners respectively as well as to any manager, secretary or other similar officer of the entity concerned. The authority shall also refuse to issue a licence where an applicant does not comply with a requirement under the Bill or regulations made by the authority, e.g. regarding training, where an applicant is under 18 years of age or where the applicant has not paid the prescribed fee. To ensure tax compliance by applicants and licensees, section 24 of the Bill provides that the authority shall refuse to grant or renew a licence to or regarding a person regarding whom a tax clearance certificate is not in force.