Clause 1 - The Security Industry Authority

Part of Private Security Industry Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 24th April 2001.

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Photo of Bruce George Bruce George Labour, Walsall South 10:45 am, 24th April 2001

The majority of public houses have security problems, although there are a fortunate few that do not. Many 19th-century pugilists ended up either as chucker outers or as the owners of the licensed premises where they worked. They dealt with their security problems in a manner unique to middle-aged, 22-stone pugilists.

If a public house does not employ designated security officers, their role might have to be undertaken by other staff, so the definition of security staff presents problems. There are so many marginal or tangential—although not peripheral—sectors of the security industry. Many employees perform security roles. If a driver pulls off the M1 to visit a service station to buy a copy of The Guardian—although I suspect that Conservative Members would be unlikely to buy that newspaper—the sales assistant might have a screen that monitors what is happening in the rest of the building.

The problem of definition would bedevil any legislation. I failed O-level maths so I am not in a position to offer advice concerning horizontal explanations, but depth of regulation takes account of entry requirements for firms and individuals wanting to operate in the industry and minimum standards of operation, and I feel that the Bill is in between shallow and deep. I devised five models of regulation: non-interventionist—which we have had until now—minimum narrow, minimum wide, comprehensive narrow and comprehensive wide. My view, and that of professionals in the security field, is that if we consider the top 10 countries in terms of a successful, accountable, regulated security industry, we can see that most of the best-regulated systems have a combination of breadth and depth. The Opposition want the system to be narrow—just covering man guarding—and shallow, whereas I think that it should be wide and deep. I suspect that the Home Secretary and the Minister are in favour of something in between. The clause is admirable—I will not be quite as eulogistic about all the other clauses—it sets the scene, and I support it.