Thursday, 23 June 2005
Brian Lenihan Jnr (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
The Private Security Services Act 2004 was signed into law on 4 May 2004. The Act allows for, among other things, the establishment of a Private Security Authority to control and supervise persons providing security services and maintain and improve standards in the provision by it of those services. The functions of the authority include the granting and renewal of licences, the issuing of identity cards to licensees, the suspension or revocation of licences, the specification of standards in the provision of security services, specification of qualification and training requirements and monitoring of the services and service providers in the industry generally.
The authority, which is located in Tipperary town and has a current staff complement of eight, has put in place a very ambitious work programme. The primary objective of the Private Security Authority in developing its initial strategy has been to focus on those areas of greatest concern from a public order perspective and within those areas to prioritise the licensing which will give the most immediate results in terms of reducing criminality and getting a distinct grouping licensed in the shortest possible timeframe.
The authority will commence licensing private security contractors in October 2005. Licensing of companies in the various sectors of the private security industry will be implemented on a phased basis and the Private Security Authority plans to have licensed all private security employees and companies by the end of 2007.
I presume the code of practice referred to by the Deputy relates to the voluntary code of practice to create a safe, secure and efficient cash handling environment in Ireland. The voluntary code has been developed by a forum of stakeholders, including the Garda Síochána, the Central Bank and the Financial Services Authority of Ireland, the five federated banks and some of the major cash-in-transit security companies. The work of the forum was facilitated by the Irish Bankers Federation, and officials from my Department and the Private Security Authority have been attending the forum as observers.
The code of practice, which will be signed by the relevant stakeholders tomorrow, will provide the framework for an end-to-end solution to reduce the risk of cash-in-transit robberies. For security reasons, the document is a confidential one and, therefore, it would not be prudent for me to give details in the House. However, it should be pointed out that this is the first time all the major players in the cash handling environment have agreed collectively to new measures that will raise standards and better manage the risk posed by those criminals who target cash movements.
The Private Security Authority has contracted the National Standards Authority of Ireland to develop standards to underpin the licensing of all cash-in-transit companies. It is anticipated the voluntary code of practice will contribute towards the formulation of these standards.