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Security boss pleads guilty to supplying unlicensed officers for construction site

30 October 2020

ON 30 SEPTEMBER, Taunton security boss Peter Blythe was fined at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court for deploying unlicensed security following a prosecution process initiated by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).

57-year-old Blythe pleaded guilty to two counts of supplying unlicensed security personnel. A director of PB Facilities Management Ltd, Blythe had previously applied to the SIA for a licence, but had been turned down due to his criminal record.

Those presiding at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court fined Blythe £1,000 and required him to pay court costs of £225 in addition to a victim surcharge of £100. The magistrates were unimpressed by his disregard for private security industry law and said that, if he had not been receiving benefits, the fine would have been even higher. They also fined PB Facilities Management Ltd (of which Blythe is sole director) £1,000. The business has also been required to pay £225 in court costs.

Background to the case

This case began in 2018 when Blythe recruited a security worker for a construction site at Flusco near Penrith. Groundworks operator CT Thomas and Sons Ltd had been suffering as a result of the theft of plant and equipment from the site.

Blythe specifically advertised for security operatives who “didn’t need to be licensed”. However, in the UK it’s illegal to work in the private security industry without a valid SIA licence.

A police officer from the Cumbria Constabulary visited the site on 22 October 2018. Blythe introduced himself as the site’s security officer. The police visited the site again, this time on 28 January last year and with an SIA investigator. They interviewed the man Blythe had hired and established that he was working unlicensed as a security officer.

On 5 November last year, SIA investigators interviewed Blythe under caution. He claimed that he did not realise that he needed to be licensed to perform his duties and said that he would stop immediately.

Throughout the investigation Blythe lied to SIA investigators, the police and his client by claiming that he was fit and proper to provide security.

The site manager confirmed to the SIA that Blythe had been providing security and was appointed because he had been recommended.

Peter Easterbrook, one of the SIA’s criminal investigation managers, commented: “SIA licence holders are required to demonstrate that they are fit and proper to undertake roles which require a high degree of trust. By virtue of his previous convictions, Blythe was clearly not fit and proper and sought to undermine the purpose of regulation by not only working unlicensed himself, but also by supplying another unlicensed security operative.”

Easterbrook continued: “As the director of a security business, Blythe should have known better, but his actions showed him to be dishonest and more concerned with putting profit before complying with the law. The outcome of this case should serve as a reminder that we will not hesitate to prosecute those who put the public at risk by supplying unlicensed security operatives.”

Failure to check

Accrington security boss Muhammad Islam has been fined and barred from working in the industry after failing to complete basic checks on his staff.

On 22 September, Islam (the security director of Spartan K9 Ltd) pleaded guilty to failing to check the SIA licence of his employee Sam Gould. It’s illegal for any door supervisor to work without an SIA licence as they work in roles that protect the public. However, Islam hired Gould without checking that he was properly licensed.

Towards the end of last year, the SIA was investigating several cases relating to unlicensed security operatives in Accrington over the Christmas and New Year period. After receiving a tip-off, SIA investigators carried out a licensing check and found Gould working without a licence at the Nag’s Head in Accrington.

The SIA discovered that Gould was working for Spartan K9 Ltd, who held the security contract at the venue. Investigators made a formal request for information from Islam, but he did not respond. Islam was then invited to an interview in January this year, at which he admitted that he failed to do due diligence and check whether Gould was licensed. He also admitted that he had no excuse for not providing the information the SIA had requested.

Islam pleaded guilty and the presiding Judge fined him £120 for supplying an unlicensed door supervisor. He was also ordered to pay costs of £200 and a victim surcharge of £32.

Pete Easterbrook observed: “There’s no excuse for not doing your due diligence. The risk taken by Islam cannot be ignored as Sam Gould was interacting with the public. Security operatives protect the public and the SIA licence gives assurance that someone is ‘fit and proper’ and capable of protecting the public. By failing to check Gould’s licence, Islam undermined this public confidence. Although Muhammad Islam didn’t receive a large fine, he can no longer work in the private security industry.”