The commissioner of police should not be the competent authority under the provisions of the Private Security Services (Regulation) Bill

Dear Editor,

With reference to the Private Security Services (Regulation) Bill, firstly, I must congratulate the Ministry of Home Affairs for the patience they exercised, and for conferring with and ascertaining the views of stakeholders and others engaged in the field of commercial security.

This is especially so since many stakeholders were not au fait with their roles during the consultation process.

When the first draft of the bill was presented, I told the Chairman of the Caribbean Institute of Security, that it was almost identical to the one used in India, which was old. Since then, Mr DC Nath, then Executive President of the International Institute of Security and Safety Management, in India, had communicated to the Caribbean Institute of Security that India had introduced a new private security model, which saw the private security industry as security first responders.

This followed the fatal bombings in India. Resulting from this new vision, India has seen several thousand young college graduates enter the security industry each month. Like its developed allies, India has stopped viewing the private security industry as an appendage of the state security apparatus, the deleterious effects of which I alluded to in my submissions on security governance.

Accordingly, I would like to register my disagreement with the provision in the bill which identified the commissioner of police as the designated competent authority. I see no reason why the commissioner could not be ex officio chairman of a committee made up of a few other industry experts and/or representatives, which is consistent with international best practice.

Also, the authorities need to be explicit with respect to the insurance provisions vaguely referred to in the bill. In some countries this provision is used to limit the amount of persons who could enter the security industry, since many learn after the fact that they cannot meet the insurance and licensing fees. This is much to the disadvantage of the security industry, which suffers a lack of diversity over time.

The regulations in India make allowance for four fee structures as it relates to licensing. Naturally, one could not expect a forensic auditor or investigator to pay the same licensing fee as a company with fifty, three hundred or five hundred employees respectively. In fact, this is made clear in the Indian regulations which like any just legislation seeks to make provisions in an equitable manner.

While there is currently no provision in the legislation for levies, my guess is that many companies are fooling themselves into believing that a higher licensing fee will grant them a degree of protection from would-be competitors. This is far from the truth, since the developmental support services which are provided to the private security industry are partly paid for through a levy imposed on each company.

Finally, in the security legislation of most countries, there is a penalty for persons who hire unlicensed security outfits. Guyana should consider a similar provision, as it would provide the legal framework for dealing with the ‘thugs and goons for hire’ phenomenon.

Yours faithfully,
Clairmont Featherstone

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