Security Law: know your obligations

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You protect your premises using personnel and technology, from those who would break the law. But are you aware that in doing so you may be breaking the law yourself?



1 January 2008

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The Private Security Services Act 2004 established the Private Security Authority (PSA). This is the government body responsible for licensing and regulating the private security industry in Ireland. The security industry now employs close to 20,000 people across all sectors.

The main responsibility of the PSA is to act as a “watchdog” for people providing security services. This law affects people providing a security service such as security guards, door supervisors, suppliers and installers of security equipment, private investigators, suppliers and installers of safes and even locksmiths.

The broad range of service providers above need to be issued with a licence from the PSA before they can provide any of these services to the public. It is an offence for a security company or a person working in the industry to present themselves to provide a security service if they don’t hold a licence. But more importantly it is also an offence for a retailer to employ an unlicensed security person or engage an unlicensed security company to do work for them. Before employing a contractor you should ensure that they have a licence that has been issued by the PSA. You can also check the register of licensed contractor holders on the PSA website: under “Licence Holders Register”.

How does this legislation affect the retailer?

Take the following scenario: Your retail premises has been broken into through your front door. You get the locksmith to change the locks, an alarm installer to carry out an upgrade on your alarm system and you decide to hire extra security staff for your premises. In each of the cases above you need to ensure that each service provider has a valid licence issued by the PSA. If you employ anyone of these service providers who does not have a licence then you will have broken the law and may be liable to be prosecuted by the PSA. This will entail a district court appearance. The fine for these offences is E3,000 or imprisonment for up to 12 months if convicted of a summary offence.

A number of security firms have been recently prosecuted for installing security alarms without a licence. The PSA has successfully prosecuted ten security contractors under Section 37 of the Act since the introduction of the legislation. However the PSA are now turning their attention to companies that are employing unlicensed security contractors. Recently a civil engineering company was convicted on two counts of employing an unlicensed security contractor. It was fined a total of €2,000 and ordered to pay costs of €3,478 to the Private Security Authority.

Employing security staff

If you want to employ your own security staff directly you will need to ensure that your newly employed security staff have a valid licence, remember if you are their employer, you are responsible for their actions while working for you.
What types of licences does the PSA issue?

The Private Security Authority issues two types of individual licence:

1    Security Guard (static) Licence
2.   Door Supervisor (licensed premises) Licence

The type of retail premises that you operate will dictate which licence your security personnel will need. If you have a retail premises with no liquor licensed section attached to the premises then you will need to ensure your personnel have a Security Guard (static) Licence. If the premises has a liquor licence then you will need a Door Supervisor (licensed premises) Licence for your personnel.

Employees working in the Door Supervisor and Security Guarding sectors required a licence from the 1st April 2007.
What do you need in order to obtain a licence for private security employees?

The following will be required in support of an application for a Private Security Services Employee:

  1. Completed Application Form
  2. The Prescribed Fee
  3. Original birth certificate or equivalent
  4. Two passport size photographs
  5. Completed Vetting Authorisation Form
  6. All applicants who have spent 6 months or more in another jurisdiction are required to provide us with a Criminal Record Certificate from that jurisdiction
  7. Evidence of having attained training qualifications relevant to the sector(s) for the licence is applied. These details are available on and there is also a helpline service set up by the PSA to deal with queries relating to any questions you may have.

Employee licenses are valid for a period of two years. The cost of the two different types of licence are listed below.
The PSA are currently working on the issuance of licences for individuals. A spokesperson for the PSA has stated that they are currently issuing “Section 52 letters” which allows an individual to provide a security service until such time as their licence has been issued. The PSA will issue the individual licences in the coming months when they will have the majority of the current applications processed. These licences will then be forwarded to anyone who currently holds a Section 52 letter.

The Section 52 letter of consent to provide security services does not apply to contractors. These letters of consent only apply to individuals. Contractors should be issued with a licence once they have successfully completed the application process.

Whether you are employing a contractor to install security equipment or directly employing your own security staff you need to ensure that your contractor has their PSA issued licence or in the case of an employee that your employee has their individual licence before providing a security service to your premises.

© Matheson Ormsby Prentice 2007        
The information in this article is not intended to provide, and does not constitute, legal or any other advice on any particular matter, and is provided for general information purposes only. 

For more detailed legal advice, please contact either Lorraine Compton, Darragh McElligott or Brian Ormond at Matheson Ormsby Prentice Solicitors, 70 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2, by telephone on 01 232 2000 or by e-mail at, or Further information on the firm is available at



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