Clause 1 - The Security Industry Authority

Part of Private Security Industry Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 24th April 2001.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 10:30 am, 24th April 2001

My hon. Friend is right, but the difficulty lies in the fact that there are different kinds of pubs. As I said earlier, some pubs operate as city-centre late-night bars and have their own security staff, and it is clear that such full-time security staff should be covered by the new agency. However, we do not want pubs that have no need for full-time security staff to be covered as a by-product or side-effect of the provisions.

In my remarks before we adjourned for the Easter recess, I touched on concerns about how training should operate. More information is coming to light as the Bill progresses, and a fascinating letter was passed to me during the short recess. Michelle Mackleston from Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire is a qualified training officer for the Security Industry Training Organisation who works in the security industry and was a warrant officer in the armed forces. She wrote to my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) about her concerns, and perhaps the Minister can deal with them in his response to this debate.

Miss Mackleston asks what the word ``training'' means in clause 1. From her experience working at the sharp end, she points out that, while training security staff, she has encountered individuals who have worked in the security industry for years without any basic training. Those people tell her about their experiences. One person who came to her for training told her that on starting work in the security industry

``I was told to carry a piece of 2 by 4'' for protection. Some people told her that they thought it appropriate for men to search women—with no regard for the possible later allegations of indecent assault. She had also been asked to train people who, although they had been working in the security industry for years, had not been told anything about the powers of citizen's arrest. She wrote:

``When I hear comments like these I begin to worry about not only the security officers safety but also the safety of the people in the areas where the security officers are working.''

She knows that reputable

``companies do train their officers (to BS7499) -but what about the ones who do not.''

Miss Mackleston is concerned about the number of people who are unaware of the obligations of criminal law regarding the restraining of individuals and the use of minimum force, and security people who believe that it is legitimate to use handcuffs and batons. Those are the concerns of someone working at the sharp end in the industry, and perhaps they touch on some of the points raised by the right hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) at an earlier stage of our deliberations.

Conservative Members feel that the remit for the powers of the new authority as drafted in the Bill is too wide. The provisions in subsection (3) are astonishingly wide. It states:

``The Authority may do anything that it considers is calculated to facilitate, or is incidental or conducive to, the carrying out of any of its functions.''

That is a wide brief. In the other place, we sought to test the breadth of subsection (3) with an amendment designed to stop the authority borrowing money, and, more importantly, to require annual consultation with the industry to be written into the Bill.

That point is similar to a point raised by one of the amendments tabled by the right hon. Member for Walsall, South that was starred for our previous sitting. We still feel that such a move would be greatly welcomed by the reputable side of the industry—trade bodies such as the British Security Industry Association and the Joint Security Industry Council. Are the Government prepared at least to contemplate later, perhaps on Report, adding wording to reduce the breadth of the wide words in subsection (3)? We look forward to the Minister's response.