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PSA update at ST17 Dublin

At the ST17 Dublin event, the chief of the Republic of Ireland’s regulator the Private Security Authority (PSA) set out the ‘busy’ last 12 months.

Paul Scanlon, pictured, a return speaker to the event after the first Security TWENTY event in Ireland in 2016, said that in the past 12 months, the PSA has introduced licensing for locksmiths; and brought in new training for the cash in transit (CIT) sector; and has almost completed new training for the guarding and door supervision sectors.

He began by reviewing the 11 years since the Tipperary Town-based PSA issued its first licence. He said: “Regulation has been good for everybody, consumers, society at large, contractors and individuals.” That said, there are still sectors to regulate – he named installers and suppliers of safes (which is to come in the next 18 months) – and the need for regulation is still relevant, he said. Some 28,000 individuals are badged and some 1300 contractors, across 12 sectors; criminal record-checked by police. Just because you get a licence doesn’t mean that the PSA forgets about you, Paul Scanlon said; if someone licenced commits a crime, the PSA knows about it. The authority visited more than 6000 premises last year, largely looking at pubs and clubs at night, and alarm installers. And the PSA continues to monitor tax compliance; if a contractor does not pay tax for a quarter, the PSA knows about it, he said.

A security buyer should look for – besides the PSA licence – a tax clearance certificate, and risk assessment survey, whether for guarding or electronic security. He asked buyers not to be fooled by generic, photocopied risk assessments; they should insist on assessments specific to premises, and on a copy of the assessment, he said.

On the ‘black economy’ – that is, security firms not paying tax – PauL Scanlon did not say it has been eliminated, but ‘it’s certainly not where it was ten or 15 years ago’. That’s made a more competitive playing field for contracts. If a company is not paying minimum wage, the PSA will investigate alongside other agencies, he added. “We now have a professional industry,” he said. Whereas 20 years ago very few security companies had trained staff, now it’s the norm. He reminded the audience that it’s an offence (unlike in the UK under the equivalent regulator the SIA) to engage a licenced security contractor. In other words, the PSA can prosecute a person who has bought the unlawful security service, besides the security person. He added that in most cases the threat of prosecution is enough for the buyer to get rid of the unlicenced person; ‘but if we have to prosecute you, we will’.

Among questions from the floor that Paul Scanlon answered was one from a manufacturer who asked if he should be licenced as an installer, the uncertainty arising if the manufacturer were giving training on a new product and advice at commissioning and install. If that’s a one-off, or as a quality assurance exercise, no; but if a manufacturer is alongside an installer at a site on a regular basis, yes, in that scenario the manufacturer would require a PSA licence, Paul Scanlon said.

For a gallery of pictures from ST17 Dublin, and other industry events, visit


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