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SIA enforcement - security supplier electronically tagged

The Security Industry Authority reports that a security supplier has been electronically tagged after being found guilty of supplying unlicensed security officers and failing to provide material to the Regulator. Brian Sims has the detail.

By Brian Sims

Following on from thorough investigations, 54-year-old Duncan Thorburn - who traded as Thor Security based in Bolsover, Derbyshire - was found guilty of 17 offences of supplying unlicensed security operatives, two counts of failing to provide material to the Security Industry Authority and one count of making a false statement to the Regulator. In addition, Thorburn (of Newark Road, Newark) was a director of Thor Security Services Limited, a former Security Industry Authority Approved Contractor. Seventeen additional counts against Thorburn of supplying unlicensed security officers while he was director of Thor Security Services Limited were dismissed because the court determined that this company was not the relevant company at the time the unlicensed officers were supplied. During their initial enquiries, Security Industry Authority investigators uncovered irregularities in the paperwork submitted by Thorburn. The investigation went on to identify unlicensed security officers George and Kevin Hannah who were being deployed by Thorburn through Thor Security. George and Kevin Hannah were consequently prosecuted by the Security Industry Authority and fined for working without a valid licence in October 2010. Thorburn attempted to hide the fact that he was using unlicensed security officers by failing to provide material to the Regulator, altering documentation and falsely claiming that some material was routinely destroyed.

Details of the Chesterfield trial

Thorburn entered a 'not guilty' plea in June and this was maintained throughout the course of the trial held at North East Derbyshire and Dales Magistrates’ Court in Chesterfield, which concluded on 23 August. Thorburn argued that his sole trading entity, Thor Security, held Security Industry Authority Approved Contractor status as well as Thor Security Services Limited, and thus he was entitled to supply unlicensed officers under Licence Dispensation Notices.

He also claimed he was unaware the officers were not licensed. Both arguments were dismissed by the judge. The prosecution was able to prove that Thorburn had knowingly and regularly deployed ten unlicensed security officers to seven customers between December 2008 and June 2010, mainly at construction sites, industrial units and in providing a mobile security alarm response service.

The sites were in Derbyshire (at Tibshelf, Chesterfield, Derby, Castle Donnington and Bolsover), Yorkshire (Sheffield, Rotherham) and Nottinghamshire (Mansfield). Thorburn was sentenced to a six-month community order, during which time he is required to observe an electronic tagging curfew between 9.00 pm and 7.00 am, and was ordered to pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs.

Comments from the presiding judge

On Thorburn’s deployment of the unlicensed officers, Judge Caroline Goulborn said he was “in control of the company” and therefore had “ultimate responsibility.” Thorburn could not rely on the defence of not knowing the officers were unlicensed because he “had sole responsibility for hiring, firing and training”, and the evidence of witnesses was “overwhelming,” she added.

Of his failure to provide material to the Security Industry Authority, Judge Goulborn said: “In my view, that was an attempt by Thorburn to try and hide the fact that his company was using unlicensed officers, and I find no reasonable excuse for Thorburn’s non compliance. Thorburn deliberately kept back information from the Security Industry Authority and that documentation which had been available was deliberately destroyed, which is a serious offence.”

Comment from the Regulator

The Security Industry Authority's head of investigation, Sara Brennan, said: “This is the first Security Industry Authority prosecution where electronic tagging has been a penalty, and I'm satisfied with the decision of the Court. This investigation uncovered a large number of offences demonstrating a prolonged willingness to supply unlicensed security officers, in turn presenting a potential risk to the public."

Brennan concluded: “A thorough investigation was not deterred by incriminating information being doctored by Duncan Thorburn prior to being handed to the Regulator. A number of witnesses courageously provided evidence on behalf of the Security Industry Authority which led to this conviction.”

Angus Groat

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