|The SIA has obtained guilty verdicts against Sabrewatch for supplying unlicensed security guards|
After a series of court hearings, the SIA
has obtained guilty verdicts against security company Sabrewatch Limited and its directors for supplying unlicensed security guards.
The result comes after a lengthy court process concerning offences committed at the time licensing of the manned guarding sector came into force - confirming that the SIA has both the power and intent to prosecute.
The East Grinstead-based company, which provided security staff for high street retailers including Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Harvey Nichols, GAP, Cadbury and OTTO UK, was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Friday [19 February] of seven counts of supplying unlicensed security guards. It was found not guilty of two counts. The retailers (who had no part in the offences as the staff was hired under contract) were supportive of the case and a number gave evidence against Sabrewatch in court.
During the six-week hearing, the jury heard that the company supplied hundreds of unlicensed security operatives in the months following 20 March 2006, the date by which all contract security guards had
Sabrewatch supplied hundreds of unlicensed security operatives even after the date by which all contract security guards had to be licensed
to be licensed. These deployments took place despite clear and frequent warnings by the SIA, and were in contrast to the many other suppliers who took proper steps to ensure that they complied with the law.
Director and 94% shareholder Luke Lucas, 61, of Charters Towers, Felcourt Road, East Grinstead (the company address), was found guilty by a jury of seven counts of supplying unlicensed security operatives. He was found not guilty of two similar counts. The offences took place between 20 March 2006 and 29 May 2006.
Directors George Charalambous, 46, of South Lodge Drive, Oakwood, north London, and Anthony Hutchins, 46, of Stonehaven Drive, Woodley, Berkshire, were both found guilty of seven counts of supplying unlicensed operatives from the date they became directors, 10 April 2006, to 29 May 2006.
A confiscation order of £100k was obtained from the company under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Sabrewatch Limited was also ordered to pay the SIA's costs of £1 million. The defendants are due to be sentenced on 26 February.
The case was subject to lengthy delays as a result of challenges brought by the defendants. The SIA's right to prosecute was endorsed by the Court of Appeal after being challenged by Sabrewatch Limited and Luke Lucas. The SIA also won a subsequent challenge that the prosecution was an abuse of process.
It is an offence under the Private Security Industry Act to deploy unlicensed security operatives
SIA chief executive Bill Butler said: "The SIA is pleased to have secured the convictions in this important and long running case and to have confirmed our right and intent to prosecute those who flout the law. The vast majority of the security industry made great efforts to ensure that their guards were licensed in time. It is wholly right that this company and its directors have been convicted for offending which was widespread and deliberate."
It is an offence under the Private Security Industry Act to deploy unlicensed security operatives. A customer hiring security staff under contract is not responsible for ensuring those staff are licensed - rather it is the duty of the contractor to ensure its staff are licensed before they are deployed.
The Security Industry Authority regulates the private security industry in the United Kingdom under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, reporting to the Home Secretary. Its main duties are the compulsory licensing of individuals undertaking designated activities and managing the voluntary Approved Contractor Scheme approving private security suppliers.