If you are employed in the security industry and have been charged by Police with a criminal offence, you are at risk of having your security licence (‘Licence’) interfered with by the Police Commissioner (‘the Commissioner’) until your criminal matter finalises. This means that you may be prevented from working as a security guard or crowd controller for some time or permanently. Some security guards and crowd controllers are charged with assault offences following work related incidences. However, before the Commissioner can decide to interfere with your Licence, you must be given an opportunity to write submissions to convince the Commissioner not to.
This process undermines Licence holder’s presumption of innocence afforded to people accused of wrongdoing. Also, criminal matters take months or, for more serious offences, years to resolve and finalise during which time, a Licence holder is barred from working in the security industry. Furthermore, preventing a Licence holder from working can affect their plea hearing because Magistrates and Judges are generally interested in knowing that someone is gainfully employed.
Power to Interfere with Licences
Section 50 of the Private Security Act 2004 gives the Commissioner discretion to conduct a disciplinary inquiry into a person’s or security company’s Licence if they are charged with criminal offences. Section 51 of the Private Security Act gives the Commissioner power to suspend a Licence until one or more of the following decisions are made:
- take no further action;
- reprimand the holder of the licence;
- impose or vary a condition on the licence;
- suspend the licence for a specified period of no more than one year;
- suspend an authority under the licence—
- to provide the services of others to carry on a class A security activity; or
- to carry on a class A security activity—
for a specified period of no more than one year;
- cancel the licence;
- order that the holder of a licence cancelled under this section not be entitled to apply for a private security licence for a specified period of no more than 5 years from the date that cancellation takes effect;
- order that the holder of a licence in respect of which an authority has been cancelled under this section, not be entitled to apply for a variation of the licence to include the authority that has been cancelled for a specified period of no more than 5 years from the date that cancellation takes effect.
The Commissioner will consider if the Licence holder is a “fit and proper” person and if it is in the “public interest” for the person or company to be Licenced.
Fit and Proper Person
A person must be a “fit and proper person” to get a Licence. However, the Private Security Act does not define the expression – “fit and proper person”. The High Court of Australia stated that this expression ‘takes its meaning from its context, from the activities in which the person is or will be engaged and the ends to be served by those activities.’1
The following can be relied on to demonstrate to the Police Commissioner that a Licence holder satisfies this requirement:
- character references from other people/companies in the security industry;
- character references from venues who have employed the Licence holder;
- the good record of the Licence holder;
- the company procedures and operating manuals which promote appropriate conduct;
- evidence of behavioural courses that the Licence holder has completed;
- the response taken by the Licence holder;
- the Licence holder’s co-operation;
- up to date standard operating procedures if the security licence holder is a company.
It must be in the public interest for a person or company to be Licenced. Again, the Private Security Act does not define “public interest”. Cases have considered that the public needs Licence holders to be ‘honest, trustworthy and behave with integrity’.
The following can be relied upon to demonstrate to the Police Commissioner that a Licence holder this requirement:
- detailed description of the type of work the Licence holder does;
- the number of staff a Licence holder employs in the case of a security company;
- the service the Licence holder provides;
- the venues the Licence holder services;
- anything else which promotes the purpose of the Private Security Act – ‘ensure public safety and peace’.
If you or your company are subject to an inquiry and are at risk of losing your Licence, you should call Doogue + George Defence Lawyers to speak with solicitor, Tyson Manicolo who has experience in writing successful submissions in these types of matters. Tyson understands the priority these types of matters must be given because it may result in you not being able to earn an income.
 Australian Broadcasting Tribunal v Bond  HCA 33.