BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK Politics
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Friday, 8 December, 2000, 15:07 GMT
Bouncers face regulation
Jack Straw
Straw - determined to crack down on cowboys
Bouncers and private eyes could face tighter regulation including criminal record checks, under a bill unveiled by the government.

If the Private Security Industry Bill is enacted, wheel-clampers and private security guards will also come under tighter control.

There is currently no regulation of the industry and cowboys, crooks, conmen and violent criminals are free to operate unchecked

Jack Straw
Those working in the industry would be required to apply for a licence from a newly established Security Industry Authority.

Stiff penalties for anyone working without a licence could include six months in prison or a 5,000 fine.

The purpose of the bill is to wheedle out the less scrupulous elements of the industry.

Criminal record checks

Licences are expected to cost between 35 and 40 and applicants would be subject to a standard criminal record check that would look at both current and spent offences.

Would-be bouncers could face tougher checks covering minor offences and any police intelligence on them.

The bill is a reaction to high levels of public concern about cowboy elements operating within the industry, the Home Office said.

Anyone with a conviction for an offence of drugs or violence would be automatically excluded from working.

The new authority would have some discretion in deciding what other offences could warrant a ban from working in the private security industry.

Evidence of drug-dealing

A Home Office report published two years ago found evidence of doormen dealing in drugs, turning a blind eye to drug-dealing, and receiving cash for letting dealing take place.

Cowboy wheel-clampers were operating in areas which were not properly signed to warn of clamping, and often threatened violence to extract exorbitant fees, officials found.

Home Secretary Jack Straw said: "There is currently no regulation of the industry and cowboys, crooks, conmen and violent criminals are free to operate unchecked."

His department estimates there are around 170,000 door supervisors working in house and under contract, 120,000 security guards working under contract and 2,000 manned guarding firms.

Bill given a welcome

The security industry has general welcomed moves to regulate them more tightly.

Michael Welply, of the Joint Security Industry Council, said: "This will capture the groups and individuals who are working outside associations like ours."

He refused to accept, however, there was a high number of cowboys in the industry.

David Fletcher, of the British Security Industry Authority, expressed concern over what he said were omissions in the bill which would not cover locksmiths or bailiffs.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

06 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Queen's speech: At a glance
06 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Plans to tackle 'yob culture'
26 Mar 99 | Europe
Licences for security guards
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK Politics stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK Politics stories