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 Hazel Blears Hazel Blears Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Security and Community Safety), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 9:45, 20 January 2005

My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (David Cairns) raises some important matters. There has been excellent co-operation between us and the Scottish Executive. I understand regulation of the private security sector is supported not just by the public in Scotland but also by many people in the decent parts of the industry who desperately want to raise standards and get rid of the criminal element that is sometimes present in the security sector.

Our provisions provide for consultation between us and Scottish Ministers to ensure that, when we make decisions, they take into account the situation in Scotland. Although the Security Industry Authority   has been established for a couple of years now, it started issuing licences only last June, so it is fairly early days. It expects to license about 40,000 door supervisors, and we have been rolling that out on a regional basis across the country. I have no doubt that the experience of the SIA as it has carried out the licensing process will inform its operation in Scotland and it will have learned lessons.

The SIA is not simply about the administrative process of licensing. It is also designed to raise standards in the industry and ensure that it becomes a respectable part of the security field. That is a difficult task. It is about major cultural and transformational change in the industry, but the decent firms want to do that. It is important that we drive out the poor firms.

There is one interesting difference regarding the provisions in Scotland: apparently vehicle immobilisers, or wheel clampers, will not be licensed in Scotland because that is already illegal—it is classed as ''extortion'' north of the border.

We have tried to ensure that all the appeal provisions are correct in relation to the Scottish legal system, so the appeal in the first instance is to the sheriff. I hope my hon. Friend is reassured that the SIA will take its duties in relation to Scotland very seriously. Over the next few years, I hope to see a transformation of the private security industry, with decent terms and conditions for the employees within it and real integrity and probity in the firms that undertake security work, not just in England, but in Scotland.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 147, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.