The Private Security Authority (PSA) says its inspections continue to show a “high rate of non-compliance” with licensing regulations in the sector.
The authority, set up under the Private Security Services Act 2004 and 2011, is charged with managing a licensing system for the private security industry.
In its annual report for 2019, the authority says the percentage of fully compliant contractors has dropped from 25% in 2017 to 19% last year. The percentage of contractors in the most serious category of non-compliance, known as category one, increased from 47% to 64% over the same two-year period.
In 2019, the PSA brought two prosecutions before the courts. In addition, 11 contractors and 14 individuals had their licences revoked.
Targets not met
The PSA also said the departure of some key senior staff in the standards and qualifications area had an impact on its work last year.
The authority currently licenses contractors across 12 sectors and employees across four, but the departures meant it did not meet some of its targets for developing licensing in other sectors in 2019.
The PSA says it still aims to complete its licensing mandate by the end of next year.
Welcoming the report, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the drafting of the Private Security Services (Amendment) Bill 2020, which brings people enforcing court orders under the PSA’s remit, would be a priority for the Government.
The PSA said it made progress in some areas. A date for the licensing of employees in the event-security sector was announced, while training requirements for the licensing of private investigators are nearing completion.
According to its annual report, the authority licensed just over 32,500 individuals and 1,400 contractors last year. The authority took in just under €1.43 million in licence fees from contractors, and €1.95 million from individuals last year.
Applications rejected or refused
The biggest increase in contractor licences was in the electronic security sector. The PSA says eight of 863 applications for licences were rejected last year, while 13 applications were refused. Contractors can appeal such decisions to the Private Security Appeal Board, and six did so last year.
The PSA also refused 60 applications from individuals in 2019, down from 196 in 2018. It says the main reason for refusing applications was the failure to complete the process of vetting by Gardaí.