Clause 147 - Private Security Industry Act 2001: Scottish extent

Part of Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 20 January 2005.

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Photo of David Cairns David Cairns PPS (Malcolm Wicks, Minister of State), Department for Work and Pensions 9:45, 20 January 2005

The hon. Gentleman might have noticed that, since 1707, the Scottish Parliament has been re-established, and we do not generally have bolt-on legislation that applies only in Scotland. He may have been dozing when we passed the Scotland Act.

The concerns about the behaviour of bouncers, private security firms, wheel clampers and so on that gave rise to the 2001 Act in England and Wales obviously do not stop at the border. Those concerns are as valid in my constituency as they are in every part of the kingdom. I know of a constituent whose son—an off-duty police officer—was seriously assaulted by a bouncer in a club. Perhaps he should have known better, but, under severe provocation, he fought back, and lost his job as a result. I suspect every hon. Member will know of an instance of behaviour by bouncers or private security firms that goes well beyond the law as it would apply to any ordinary citizen regarding affray, breach of the peace or assault.

Too many bouncers and private security firms operate as pseudo-gangster operations. Presumably that is why the 2001 Act was brought in. In some of the major cities in Scotland, in Glasgow and particularly in Edinburgh, there is a great deal of concern about the operation of such firms, so the provisions are timely. I do not wish to detain the Committee unduly, because the Private Security Act will have received a great deal of scrutiny, and I am sure it is an appropriate legislative vehicle if it is applying in England and Wales. However, given that the Act has been in operation for three years now, will the Minister tell us her assessment of its impact? How many prosecutions there have been? How many licences have been revoked? Does she believe that there has been a marked improvement in the behaviour of private security firms and bouncers as a result of the legislation being in place? Since the authorities in Scotland will be implementing that legislation upon Royal Assent to the Bill, what lessons have been learnt from its implementation in England and Wales?