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Private-security watchdog ‘needs resources’
Pic: Shutterstock

16 Nov 2023 / regulation Print

Private-security watchdog ‘needs resources’

The annual report of the Private Security Authority (PSA) shows that there was a slight fall in the number of licensed contractors and employees in 2022 compared with the previous year.

This was despite the removal of COVID-19 restrictions, which led to increases in turnover in nine of the 12 sectors regulated by the agency.

The authority is charged with managing a licensing system for the private-security industry.

Writing in the report, Richard O’Farrell (chair) and Paul Scallan (chief executive) said that without an investment in resources, it would be unable to complete the statutory mandate set out in its 2023-2025 strategic plan.

Contractors leaving the industry

The report shows that just over 32,000 individuals and 1,443 contractors had been licensed by the PSA by the end of 2022. Both figures represented marginal falls compared with 2021.

The PSA attributed the drop in contractor licences, the first since 2012, to the number of new applicants falling behind the number of those leaving the industry.

The door-supervisor and cash-in-transit sectors showed a decline in licence numbers for a third consecutive year. The number of licence holders in both security-guard sectors – those in monitoring centres and those guarding – was above pre-pandemic levels.

The PSA revoked 36 licences last year – down from 164 in 2021.

It refused 78 employee applications in 2022, with the main reasons for refusing applications being the failure to participate in the Garda vetting-process or the result of convictions disclosed following Garda vetting.

An appeal board upheld eight of these refusals last year, and overturned four.

‘Dated’ IT system

There was a significant increase in the number of applications processed – from 10,500 in 2021 to almost 16,500 last year, while income from fees rose sharply to €3.4 million.

The authority warned, however, that considerable resources would be needed to replace its “dated” IT system or recruit extra staff to handle an expected increase in the volume of applications.

In late 2022, the authority rolled out licensing to employees in the event-security and private-investigator sectors. The PSA had licensed 62 private investigators by the end of 2022.

The report shows that, while the electronic-security sector represents more than 60% of licence holders, it accounts for just over 30% of industry turnover. In contrast, the security-guard sector accounts for 10% of licence holders and 50% of industry turnover.

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