Security bill enforcement questioned

The president of Cayman’s largest security services company believes a proposal to strictly regulate security companies and the people they hire is just more bureaucracy, unless government actively enforces the plan.

Stuart Bostock

Security Centre Ltd. President Stuart Bostock

The Caymanian Compass reported 1 August on the Private Security Services Bill (2007), which is expected to come before the Legislative Assembly for approval later this year. The plan gives the police commissioner broad powers in determining who is allowed work at and run private security-related businesses.

‘We’re strong supporters of it (the bill),’ Security Centre Ltd. President Stuart Bostock said. ‘(Security) is an extremely important and valuable industry. The only way to confirm value for dollars…for the client is either with the introduction of self-governance…or through national governance.’

Mr. Bostock said a handful of security firms have tried for years to create a self-regulating body but failed largely because of a lack of cooperation from other companies.

He’s worried the proposal coming before the legislature may suffer the same fate.

‘I am concerned over the impact it (the bill) will have on business,’ Mr. Bostock wrote in a recent e-mail to the Compass. ‘My fear is this bill will be yet another piece of legislation that professional companies comply with, thus increasing the cost of doing business yet again, only to be undercut in price by companies who choose not to abide by the law.’

‘Will…consumers of the security product openly accept the increases brought on by this bill, or will they seek out the lowest price available?’

Under the proposal anyone wishing to work in Cayman as a security guard or security technician must have a security licence approved by the police commissioner. Applicants for that licence must pay a fee.

It’s unclear in the latest draft of the bill whether that fee will be paid by the employer or the employee. But Mr. Bostock said the issue has the potential to put even more hardship on employees of unscrupulous companies.

‘If they were already charging the security officers the $1,100 to make them pay for their work permit, why would they not charge the extra $100-150 to cover their (police-issued) licence as well?’

On the other hand, depending on what is charged for the permits, they could become quite pricey for companies. For instance, Mr. Bostock said the Security Centre employs about 140 security officers. At $150 a permit, it would cost his company more than $20,000 each year for those licences.

Another issue is the requirement for security licences on top of the work permits government requires for all foreign workers.

‘It’s going to be difficult to coordinate an employment contract, work permit and a security licence all to take effect at the same time,’ Mr. Bostock said.

The bill would allow the police commissioner, at his discretion, to grant applicants a temporary security licence of three months. Presumably, the police service would have performed its necessary checks on applicants within those three months before granting a licence for a full year.

The commissioner, or his designee, could deny a security licence for a number of reasons under the legislation including; the character or competence of the employee, or the financial wherewithal of the business owner.

In general, Mr. Bostock was adamant that greater regulation of the security business in Cayman is vital.

‘As the security and life safety threat on businesses and individuals is increasing, it really is time for the security industry…to become a somewhat professional career,’ he said. ‘We have people that are tasked with protecting sometimes millions of dollars worth of property, and protecting life.’

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