April 2014: Ringleaders of a £6 million scam to exploit illegal workers have been jailed for a total of six years:
Anthony Okoh, 45, and Victor Chiazor, 50, ran security firm Blue Feathers Guarding Ltd, based in Veridion Way in Erith, using the company as a front for employing illegal workers.
Okoh, of Floathaven Close, Woolwich, and Chiazor, of Nightingale Vale, Woolwich, charged full rates to contractors but paid their illegal workers £3 an hour, often on 24-hour shifts.
Employees were unable to complain to the authorities as doing so would have revealed their illegal status.
The Home Office’s south London criminal investigations team, supported by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), raided Blue Feathers’ offices in October 2012.
They searched the premises and discovered a large amount of forged identification documents.
Officers arrested Okoh and Chiazor, along with four other directors.
Two were acquitted during the three-month trial at Woolwich Crown Court, while another two will face a retrial.
Okoh was found guilty on February 12 of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law, contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977, and using unlicensed security operatives contrary to the Private Security Industry Act 2001.
October 2013: Keep burglars out in the cold this winter with effective security measures:
Sunday October 27th will see the official end of our British Summer Time and will mark the start of prolonged hours of darkness. We are stressing to homeowners and businesses the importance of effective security measures throughout these darker nights.
Darker nights signal the start of the burglar’s favourite time of year, with properties more vulnerable to opportunistic crime when left in darkness for longer, particularly as we approach the festive season. However, there are a wide variety of preventative security measures that can be taken to ensure that your property is protected. Putting these measures in place does not have to be a costly or lengthy process and often by simply adopting straightforward steps it is possible to dramatically reduce the likelihood of an incident occurring.
Firstly, check your gates, doors and windows are securely locked at all times, whether the premises is vacant or not. It is also essential to ensure that your locks are still effective, taking the time to replace them if necessary. If you are leaving your property for an extended period of time during the festive season, ensure that curtains/blinds are kept closed but leave a light on, or ask someone you trust to keep an eye on your property.
CCTV is another aspect of security that can help to keep a watchful eye on your property. However, it is important to note that if your premises does utilise electronic security measures, you must adjust the settings to match the change in natural lighting. For example, if your remote monitoring and lighting systems are controlled separately, the timer on the lighting must be adjusted once the clocks change. If these systems are out of sync, it could result in an unwanted gap in the footage before the lighting turns on, possibly allowing for an intruder to take advantage of the darkness.
In fact, lighting in general is a useful security measure. Ensure that adequate lighting is in place, particularly in vital and vulnerable areas of a property. However, too much lighting in the wrong area can also lead to issues; for example, a light that shines directly into a CCTV lens could impair the recordings.
There are a wide range of security measures available on the market to protect people and their properties during the winter months. However, when sourcing a solution, it is important that no corners are cut when it comes to choosing a quality supplier. Poor quality products/services can lead to further problems down the line, so ensure that you are choosing a professional security provider who meets with the appropriate British and European standards for their product or service.
October 2013: Fire-safety charges against the owner of holiday homes are set to be heard at crown court:
David Chapelow (46) faces 29 counts of breaching fire regulations at the Long Barn and Park Farm cottages in Wellow, Somerset.
The charges include failing to install appropriate fire-fighting equipment and alarms and detectors, failing to illuminate emergency routes sufficiently and failing to comply with regulations that could ensure it was possible to evacuate the buildings quickly.
The court was told how the holiday homes were three and four storeys.
Prosecuting for the fire service, Carl May-Smith said inspectors had visited the property numerous times dating back to April 2010 following a complaint about fire safety.
Mr Chapelow, who gave his own address as Park Farm, was ordered to improve the properties, but Mr May-Smith said no work was done.
In April of this year, it was alleged that Mr Chapelow refused the fire authority entry.
Mr Chapelow gave no indication of plea to the charges, but the magistrates decided they did not have the power to deal with the case so sent it to Nottingham Crown Court.
He is next due to appear on 13th February.
October 2013: Brokers warn insurers not to rush into private security firm cover:
Concerns raised over claims frequency of problem door supervisor sector.
Although the planned introduction of business licenses for private security firms could present opportunities for insurers, brokers have warned rates may not be proportionate to potential claims activity.
New regulations developed by the Security Industry Authority, the body responsible for regulating the UK’s private security industry, in conjunction with the Home Office, will make it a criminal offence for security businesses to operate without a license from 1 April 2015.
Previously the SIA only licensed individuals, rather than the firms themselves, so there was no requirement for firms to hold employers’ or private liability insurance. When the legislation comes into force, the SIA will take into account numerous factors in determining whether a ‘business is fit and proper’ to hold a business licence as part of a drive to increase professional standards, including whether it holds public liability insurance and, if applicable, employers’ liability insurance to a value of at least £5m.
Dave Humphries, head of compliance at the SIA, does not believe obtaining cover should prove problematic. He told Post: “We have no evidence to suggest a security firm would not be able to get insured, although a business run by people suspected to be serious criminals may rightly face some difficulty.”
Indeed, Humphries claims the market appears to have swung in the buyers’ favour in recent years, despite an increase in “shoddy practices” in some parts of the sector. “Anecdotal evidence suggests insurance premiums have fallen significantly in the past 12 to 18 months for private security firms, due to increased competition in the sector,” he explained.
Gary Uren, director at broker Sutton Specialist Risks, supports this view: “With the market being fairly soft and there being a fair level of capacity available, insurers have been inclined to write certain risks they normally wouldn’t.”
Humphries added: “For the approved contractor scheme we would not process an application from an uninsured firm, and there is a chance we would withdraw approval from an organisation if it found itself in that position. Under business licensing, it will be a criminal offence to carry on practising without a valid
SIA business licence.”
David Thackway, director at broker Darwin Clayton, believes an improvement in professional standards can only be positive for the industry: “Most companies are welcoming this, and it probably should have happened earlier. We don’t have undue concerns that good companies will struggle to find cover.”
However, Thackway added doormen, who are particularly vulnerable to third-party or personal injury claims, will require careful consideration: “It’s obviously a much more challenging area and one that needs to be considered differently from an insurer’s point of view. But the good companies that are doing things properly should still be able to find cover.”
According to Uren, the entry of new capacity to the sector over the past five years has compensated the reduction in appetite from the market’s more traditional participants, but the outlook for the sector remains uncertain. “The door supervision sector has a problem in terms of its claims frequency. Premium income is not commensurate to claims experience,” he said. “Some of the more established markets have tried to take a firmer line on pricing, given the claims experience, but at the moment [the sector] has been able to withstand that by other markets coming in and writing the business.
October 2013: SIA Launches Licensing of Security Businesses:
From 6 April 2015, all regulated security businesses will need to hold an SIA business licence.
The Home Office has been working with the SIA on the introduction of business licensing. Home Office Ministers have publicly stated their commitment to the regulatory reforms and the introduction of business regulation; which will help create a fair business environment for security companies, remove rogue operators, and deliver better value regulation.
The Scottish Government and Department of Justice for Northern Ireland have indicated that they are supportive of a consistent UK-wide regulatory regime.
The proposed implementation dates are:
- 7 April 2014: SIA accepts business licence applications.
- 1 October 2014: The last recommended business licence application date.*
- 6 April 2015: Legal requirement to have a business licence.
Business licensing is subject to Ministerial approval and the approval of the Scottish Government and the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland.
To qualify for an SIA business licence, a security business must demonstrate that it is ‘fit and proper’ to supply security industry services. When processing a business licence application, the SIA will consider: identity; criminality; financial probity; integrity; business competency (including British Standards).
A business will need to obtain approval for each sector in which it supplies a security industry service. The relevant sectors are:
- Manned guarding – Cash and Valuables in Transit, Close Protection, Door Supervision, Public Space Surveillance (CCTV), and Security Guarding.
- Key holding.
- Immobilisation of vehicles (including the restriction and removal of vehicles) in Northern Ireland only.
A business licence will last for five years. To maintain a business licence businesses will be required to comply with the conditions of the licence, provide a yearly return evidencing its continued compliance, and pay an annual subscription fee.
The SIA is writing to private security businesses to inform them of their responsibilities in applying for a business licence.