Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Questions (243)

Mary Butler

Question:

243. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied); the date from which it is a requirement for businesses that change locks in private properties to obtain a licence from the Private Security Authority; his views on whether the licence regime is disproportionate in its impact with respect to the administrative burden and compliance costs for small and micro businesses in the window and door trade to obtain such a licence; if he has given consideration to consulting the sector with a view to bringing in a more proportionate and fair regime for small businesses; and if his attention has been drawn to the burden being placed on customers and members of the public that rely on such businesses for the service in view of the fact the Private Security Authority is formally requesting that businesses cease providing a locksmith service until an application is completed for a licence. [25075/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Private Security Authority (PSA), an independent agency under the remit of my Department, is the regulatory body with responsibility for regulating and licensing the private security industry in the State. The Private Security Services Act 2004 (as amended) sets out the activities in the private security industry which are, or will be, subject to licensing. One of the security services prescribed in the legislation is that of locksmith.

I have no involvement in the day to day operations of the PSA. I can however inform the Deputy that the taking of applications for the licensing of the locksmith sector came into operation on 1st October 2016 under Statutory Instrument No. 343 of 2016 Private Security (Licensing And Standards) (Locksmith) Regulations 2016. In accordance with Statutory Instrument No. 344 of 2016, it has been an offence to provide locksmith services without a licence since the 1st day of February 2017. Providing a service without a licence puts the contractor and their clients at risk of prosecution.

In September, 2016 the PSA provided details of these new regulations on their website. In addition, the PSA ran a radio advertising campaign at the time and annually since then. They also provide details in relation to licensing and regulation of the industry in their newsletter to industry stakeholders. The relevant information notes in relation to the locksmiths sector are PSA 58 - Information Note on Locksmiths and PSA 79 - Locksmiths FAQs which can be found on the PSA website.

Prior to the introduction of licensing the Authority undertook two public consultations on the regulation of the sector. Following these public consultations the Authority published the licensing requirements for locksmiths in its document, PSA 55:2016, available on the Authority’s website. The document outlines the definition of a locksmith as ‘a person, who provides a security service installing, opening, maintaining, repairing or servicing security equipment that,

(a) consists of mechanical, electronic or other locking devices designed, constructed or adapted to prevent unauthorised access to or within premises where such equipment is situated or

(b) consists of mechanical, electronic or other locking devices designed, constructed or adapted to prevent unauthorised access to motor vehicles’.

It also includes a person who, in connection with the provision of the services referred to above:

- originates, duplicates or provides, by copy or code, restricted keys or motor vehicle transponder keys (this includes where the provision of such keys is the sole locksmith activity)

- gives advice relating to the installation of such equipment or advice relating to the protection of such devices from damage or interference.

The following do not require a licence:

a) The installation of locks or locking mechanisms that constitute a component of an access control system.

b) Qualified carpenter who installs a mechanical locking device as part of the installation of a door provided that the door does not proceed access to safes or strong rooms

c) Any work on locking mechanisms in doors and windows by a person whose sole or main occupation is the installation of windows and doors, provided:

- the work is undertaken by the person who installed the door or window and is carried out within the manufacturer’s warranty period or warranty period agreed and documented by the customer and the person at the time of the installation, and

- in the case of a door installation, the door does not provide access to safes or strong rooms.

The Authority regularly meets the various locksmith representative bodies to discuss the regulatory impact on their sector. In recent weeks these discussions have centred on whether there is a need to review the scope of licensing. The Authority will continue to consult with the representative bodies on this issue and if changes to the licensing regime are deemed necessary, they will be made in due course.

The licence fee comprises of two elements, an administration fee of €1,000 and a turnover fee based on the annual turnover of a contractor. The licence issued by the Authority is valid for a two year period. The provision of a regulatory environment has cost implications for the industry. Both the public and the industry benefit from regulation and it is in line with Government policy that industry should fund such regulation.

The Authority has made every effort to ensure that costs are kept to a minimum and reduced fees payable by contractors in 2013. It has also introduced an instalment payment option to assist contractors with paying for their licence.

Local authorities do not require a licence as the legislation defines a security service as “a service provided by a private security employer …………… in the course of an employment or as an independent contractor.” Local authorities are not a private security employer, however where sub-contractors are engaged in licensed activity, such sub-contractors are required to be licensed by the PSA. Individual licensing for employees working in the private security industry has not yet been introduced for employees in the locksmith sector. When such licensing is introduced individuals carrying out locksmith work in local authorities will require a license.