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Court order enforcement to come under private security remit
About 1,300 people at an eviction protest in Strokestown Pic: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

12 Apr 2019 / courts Print

Court order enforcements under private security remit

Private-security personnel employed to assist in enforcing court orders are to be brought under the licensing remit of the Private Security Authority (PSA), following a review ordered by Justice minister Charlie Flanagan.

An interdepartmental working group examined the administrative, legislative, resource, and security issues around the regulation and licensing of security personnel enforcing court orders.

The Group was convened, following the removal of persons trespassing and illegally occupying a private property on North Frederick Street on 11 September, 2018 (arising from the enforcement of a High Court injunction).

Trespassers

The trespassers were removed by a private security firm.

The amendments to the Private Security Act 2004 will create a new category of security service to be licensed – that of enforcement guards.

When the necessary amendments to primary and secondary legislation are in place, it will be an offence to operate as an enforcement guard without a PSA licence.

Licensing by the PSA includes payment of a fee, and vetting and compliance with PSA standards in relation to training.

Certificates

Those from outside the jurisdiction must submit foreign criminal-record certificates.

An Garda Síochána does not have a role in enforcing court orders apart from keeping the peace.

The PSA is an independent body under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Equality, and is responsible for licensing and regulating the private-security industry in Ireland.

Section 2 of the Private Security Services Act 2004, as amended, sets out the definition of ‘security service’. The services currently licensable are:

  • Door supervisor,
  • Installer of security equipment,
  • Private investigator,
  • Security consultant,
  • Security guard,
  • Provider of protected forms of transport,
  • Locksmith,
  • Supplier or installer of safes.

Enforcement guards will be added to the list of licensable services, following enactment of the relevant primary legislation.

It will be an offence to operate as an enforcement guard without a PSA licence, liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to 12 months.

Enforcement

Enforcement guards performing the following functions are now under the licensing remit of the PSA:

  • Removing persons from a premises or place in order to take legal possession of the premises or place,
  • Controlling, supervising, regulating or restricting entry to a premises or place in order to take legal possession of the premises or place, and
  • Seizing property or goods in lieu of an outstanding debt.

The act will exempt from licensing anyone engaged in the enforced collection of Revenue liabilities by a sheriff.

Where, in exceptional circumstances, there is a need to engage security personnel, protocols will be updated to include a requirement that such personnel are licensed by the PSA.

The PSA will make the register of licensed personnel available to the public.

The Courts Service provides administrative support (in the form of a court messenger and back-office support) to County Registrars acting as under-sheriffs but do not have any role in the Dublin and Cork offices or any of the 16 Revenue Sheriffs.

When performing their functions, County Registrars make ongoing risk assessments and when necessary, request from banks, financial/credit institutions and debtors that the institutions and debtors appoint a security company to assist in executing any orders and accompany the County Registrar and/or Courts Service Court messengers

Section 4(4) of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act 1926, which provides for court offices to display the court’s messengers' names and places of residence, will be repealed.

Risk to health and safety

Officials say this provision has posed a risk to the health and safety of county registrars and court messengers carrying out their duties.

Concerning bailiffs, section 2 of the Enforcement of Law (Occasional Powers) Act 1924 will be amended to make it a requirement that, when the under-sheriff is engaging security staff, these must have a PSA licence.

The Courts Service is in favour of the proposed regulation.

The full report is available at www.justice.ie.

 

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland