Partners join forces to protect the public- Operation Pearl

02 January 2013
The Security Industry Authority and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) carried out a joint inspection over the weekend to mark the beginning of a campaign supported by independent charity Crimestoppers.

The three organisations have teamed up as part of Operation Pearl, which aims to ensure that the SIA licence renewal process in Northern Ireland runs smoothly, thereby helping the public to continue benefiting from trained and professional SIA licensed staff.

SIA licensing, introduced on 1 December 2009, has been in place in Northern Ireland for three years. Licences issued then will soon expire and will need to be renewed.

The first phase of Operation Pearl was carried out across Belfast, Lisburn and Newtownards over the course of two days. In total, 50 sites were visited, which included nightclubs, bars, pubs, retail premises and office blocks. 158 door supervisors, CCTV operatives and security guards were inspected

Overall, the results were positive with the majority of security staff inspected proving to be compliant with the law. However, some offences were found. Three unlicensed men were detected and breaches of SIA licence conditions were found. Information passed to the police also led to the arrest of a man wanted for breach of bail conditions. He was held overnight and was due to appear in court the next day.

On Friday night [30 Nov], the SIA and the police visited 33 licensed premises in Belfast and Newtownards, inspecting 118 operatives. In total, 115 individuals held a valid SIA licence. However, two unlicensed bar managers working at separate venues in Newtownards were found to be employing in-house door supervisors without holding an SIA licence. Three door supervisors were found breaking licence conditions as they failed to notify the SIA of a change of address.

On Saturday [01 Dec], the SIA carried out daytime checks in Belfast, Lisburn and Newtownards. Forty security staff working at 17 sites were inspected, with 39 operatives found to be correctly licensed. However, at one site in Belfast an unlicensed security guard was found.

The SIA and the police are continuing with their enquiries regarding all the offences found over the weekend. Warnings may be issued and prosecutions may follow.

SIA Head of Investigation Sharon Roberts said: “Northern Ireland enjoys a vibrant day and night-time economy. SIA licensed staff can have a positive impact in reducing crime and disorder, and creating a safe environment for the public.

“The results found during Operation Pearl are in line with the level of compliance we have seen in three years of licensing, demonstrating that the security industry in Northern Ireland has recognised the value of SIA regulation. I was also pleased to see that many of the staff inspected were in the process of renewing their licences.

“In the lead up to the busy festive season, we will be working with our partners again on future operations. We are encouraging those whose licences are due to expire to renew in good time so that they are able to continue to work legally.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police recognise the value of the SIA licensing system for the good running of premises and the safety and convenience of customers. We will work with partners to both promote awareness of the regulations and to ensure compliance with them under the overall objective of keeping people safe. Police appreciate the co-operation of licensees and their staff during this initiative. It is in all our interests to ensure the system is working effectively and properly.”

Crimestoppers’ Regional Manager for Northern Ireland, Susan Brew, said: “Properly trained and licensed security operatives can help to protect the public. Working in any of the designated security roles without holding an SIA licence is illegal and we encourage people to let us know of anyone attempting to work unlawfully.

“We want to encourage the public to provide us with information relating to private security operatives working without an SIA licence or in breach of SIA licensing conditions. Contact Crimestoppers and tell us what you know, not who you are.

SIA investigators are distributing cards across venues in Northern Ireland that provide information and advice on how to report illegal activity. Crimestoppers is also encouraging the public to pass on information about illegal activity anonymously.

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