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Explanatory note on the proposed draft:The Private Security Industry Act 2001 (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 2009

Purpose of the instrument

The purpose of this instrument is to make a number of minor amendments to the Private Security Industry Act 2001, which sets up a regulatory regime for the private security industry. These amendments insert references to Northern Ireland legislation into the Act, which has recently been extended to Northern Ireland. The amendments will ensure that the Act operates in Northern Ireland as it does in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Legislative Context

The Private Security Industry Act 2001 sets out a system for the statutory regulation of the private security industry. Sections 1 and 2 of and Schedule 1 to the Act set up a Non-Departmental Public Body, the SIA. The SIA has responsibility for licensing individuals to work within designated sectors of the private security industry.

Under the Act any individual who carries out an activity that has been designated under section 3(3) of the Act is required to hold a licence issued by the SIA. It is an offence under section 3(1) of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 to carry out a designated activity without a licence.

The activities that have been designated to date in England, Wales and Scotland include the guarding of people, property and premises, and the immobilisation of vehicles that are not on public roads (wheel clamping). No activities have been designated in Northern Ireland as the Private Security Industry Act 2001 was only recently extended to Northern Ireland.

The aim of the Home Office and the Northern Ireland Office is that the activities that are currently designated under the Act in relation to England and Wales, and Scotland, will be designated in Northern Ireland from December 2009 onwards. The effect of the designation will be that these activities can only be carried out legally in Northern Ireland with a SIA Licence. Once this has been done there will be a unified regime for the regulation of the private security industry across the United Kingdom.

The proposed draft order is intended to make amendments to the Act in advance of December 2009 to ensure that the regime in Northern Ireland mirrors that already in place in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Legislative Amendments

The first amendment relates to an exemption in section 4 of the Act for those working in certain sports grounds from any requirement to hold a licence under the Act. The exemption does not apply in Northern Ireland as it is defined by reference to the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and the Fire Safety and Places of Sport Act 1987, neither of which extends to Northern Ireland. The amendment will extend the exemption to Northern Ireland by adding references to the Safety of Sports Grounds (NI) Order 1976, which is the equivalent Northern Ireland legislation.

The second amendment relates to Schedule 2 which lists the various activities that can be designated under the Act (the designation triggers the requirement to hold a SIA Licence). One of the activities listed at paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 is the work of door supervisors or other security personnel in licensed premises. The definition of licensed premises in paragraph 8(2) of the Schedule currently only refers to licensed premises in England and Wales and Scotland. The amendment will add references to licensed premises in Northern Ireland, ensuring that those working in Northern Ireland are also covered by the Act.

Further instruments are planned under the powers to pass secondary legislation provided by the Act itself to make some additional amendments to Schedule 2 to the Act in order to take account of Northern Ireland legislation, to bring the Act fully into force in Northern Ireland and to designate licensable activities in Northern Ireland. Once these have been made the licensing scheme under the Private Security Industry Act 2001 will be fully operational in Northern Ireland.

Policy background

As explained in the preceding section this Order makes a number of technical amendments to the 2001 Act which will ensure that the SIA licensing regime under the 2001 Act will operate in Northern Ireland as it does in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland Ministers have given a commitment to the extension to Northern Ireland of licensing under the 2001 Act by the SIA, with the licence requirement commencing in December 2009. After that it will be illegal to engage in licensable conduct in Northern Ireland without a licence from the SIA. Current interim arrangements under the Justice and Security ( Northern Ireland) Act 2007 require persons offering or providing security guard services for reward to obtain a licence from the Secretary of State.

Using the SIA will ensure that standards are equal throughout the UK and will increase Northern Ireland’s ability to operate and compete on a national level. It is the most cost-effective and efficient option for regulation and will meet the objectives outlined below:

  • increase public safety and confidence in the industry;
  • promote best practice within the industry and remove those who seek to use their position to pursue criminal activities;
  • raise standards of competence and professionalism for security companies;
  • improve the reputation of the industry;
  • protect and recognise companies and individuals who do operate to high standards and who have invested in training and selective recruitment;
  • specify minimum levels of training for security personnel; and
  • make the industry an attractive career choice.

The SIA’s multi-agency approach to compliance and enforcement activity sits well with the methods currently used in Northern Ireland and could be successful in tackling the problem of organised crime within the industry. Using the SIA will provide a robust regulatory framework that will protect both those operating legitimately within the industry and those who avail of private security services.


A consultation document entitled ‘Regulating the Private Security Industry in Northern Ireland’ was circulated to organisations representing the private security industry, political parties, relevant local authority organisations, and a wide variety of other organisations with an interest in or who use private security services in August 2006. This document set out the options for regulation and highlighted the Government’s preference, which was to extend the remit of the SIA to Northern Ireland.

The Government invited responses from organisations and individuals. The consultation paper included and welcomed comments on the results of the Equality Screening of these proposals, in line with the Department’s Equality Scheme. The consultation formally closed on 24 October 2006.

Of the responses received from security companies, all were strongly in favour of the proposals to extend the remit of the SIA to Northern Ireland. This view was shared by the local authorities, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the British Security Industry Association, the trade association covering all aspects of the professional security industry in the UK.

The Government has taken into account all comments and views received on the consultation document and the Northern Ireland Minister gave them his full attention when deciding to extend the remit of the SIA as the new scheme of regulation for the industry in Northern Ireland. No separate public consultation on the proposed draft order has been carried out as it is intended only to make minor amendments to the Act to ensure that the regime in Northern Ireland mirrors that already in place in the rest of the United Kingdom.

The original consultation document is available at:

The final regulatory impact assessment is available at:

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