Most security firms not registered

Most security firms have still not been licensed under a law that requires all privately-owned security companies and their employees to be registered and regulated by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

However, police said the majority of the security firms have at least begun the process of obtaining operating licences under the Private Security Services Law (2007), which took effect on 1 September. Security firms and employees operating here before that date have until 27 February to become licensed under the new law.

‘Security companies, security guards and security technicians who have not yet come forward must do so without further delay,’ RCIPS Chief Inspector George Watson said in a prepared statement.

According to a police spokesperson, 15 security companies have now completed licensing application forms and have paid the necessary fees to achieve compliance. Another 15 companies have collected application forms but have not been licensed.

Police officials estimated there are at least 50 companies, including electronic services and technicians that install security devices here.

If any of those companies are not registered by the time their temporary licences expire, they will not legally be allowed to provide security services in the Cayman Islands.

The Private Security Services Bill (2007) gives the RCIPS commissioner the power to issue and oversee security guard and security company licences.

The police commissioner, or a designee, can reject any request for a licence if an applicant was disqualified by the courts, or if there are concerns about the person’s character, competence or finances.

Security business owners must also convince the commissioner or his or her designee that they understand modern security systems, civil rights, and provide suitable training for employees.

One section of the bill that has caused some public concern would create conditions in the security guard’s licence allowing the guard to carry certain weapons, including firearms. The Cayman Islands Chief Secretary would have to approve any weapons before they are imported and used.

However, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin has previously said that this part of the bill does not automatically give all security guards the ability to carry guns.

‘This provision has been misunderstood,’ Mr. Bulgin said. ‘Anybody can carry a firearm, provided that you get a licence from the commissioner of police. In that licence, he will stipulate the conditions of where you can carry it, and when you can carry it. This law hasn’t changed that.’

The law is aimed at regulating and improving services provided by private security companies in Cayman, including those that provide security at bars and nightclubs.

Some local security business owners have said the law sets a good precedent if it is thoroughly enforced.

Stuart Bostock, who runs Security Centre Ltd. the largest security company on island, said part of the reason this bill was drafted was to make private security services ‘a somewhat more professional career.’

‘We have people that are tasked with protecting sometimes millions of dollars worth of property, and protecting life,’ he said in an interview with the Caymanian Compass last year.

On the other hand, Mr. Bostock said it would be an unfair burden on companies that did play by the rules if less scrupulous firms were allowed to ignore the law.