In research carried out by Unionist Voice it has been revealed that the Security Industry Authority (SIA) whilst in Northern Ireland have not only been operating far beyond their legal powers, but that over 92% of the door supervisors they have targeted have come from a Protestant background.
The SIA is a statutory body corporate whose power is derived from the Private Security Industry Act 2001. A statutory body corporate can only act in accordance with the power given to it by its enabling statute.
Despite this basic legal fact, the SIA have been going far beyond their powers. Despite Parliament plainly setting out the SIA’s powers in Section 19 of the Private Security Industry Act 2001, and proscribing legal penalties for failure to comply with SIA requests under this provision, the body has been using the PSNI’s powers under PACE in order to stretch their powers of entry and seizure beyond that which has been granted to them by Parliament.
Bizarrely the PSNI have allowed themselves to be used in this legally dubious way and have detained persons and seized materials using their powers set out in PACE. The most outrageous part of all is that once the PSNI have exercised their powers of arrest and seizure under PACE, they do not then carry out the investigation themselves- but rather hand over what they have seized and responsibility for the investigation to a statutory body corporate, despite having no lawful basis to do so.
If PSNI wish to use their powers under PACE to investigate matters for which Parliament has placed the obligation for regulation upon a statutory body corporate, then they must carry out the investigation themselves entirely independently of the third-party, in this case the SIA. This is not what is happening, in a quite unprecedented abuse of process the PSNI are facilitating the SIA in going far beyond the powers given to them by Parliament and effectively ‘lending’ police powers to the SIA- without any legislative or lawful basis.
The SIA have no power to enter residential properties under Section 19, however they are entering anyway. In one search an SIA officer Mr David Will entered a private dwelling and provided a card of authorisation (shown below) which stated “has been authorised for the purposes of Section 19 of the Private Security Industry Act 2001m to enter premises owned or occupied by a person appearing to them to be regulated, and require them to produce documents or other information”.
However, if we turn to Section 19 of the Private Security Industry Act 2001, what sub-section 1 actually states is the following;
“Subject to subsections (3) and (4), a person authorised in writing for the purpose by the Authority may enter any premises owned or occupied by any person appearing to him to be a regulated person other than premises occupied exclusively for residential purposes as a private dwelling.”
You will notice the disparity in the legally incorrect authorisation card flashed by Mr Will, and those like him, and the actual powers outlined in Section 19. It is clear that the power of entry excludes “premises occupied exclusively for residential purposes as a private dwelling”- however Mr Will’s legally false authorisation card won’t tell you that, and therefore many people willingly step aside and permit these people to exceed their lawful powers on an industrial scale.
You can see from Mr Will’s authorisation- which due to its legally misleading nature it is in the public interest to publish- that he is an accredited financial investigator. In November 2015 the UK Secretary of State granted the SIA powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act, subject to statutory instrument number 2015/1853. This allowed the SIA to employ accredited financial investigators- however this power only extended to England and Wales, and therefore the SIA have no legal powers to deploy financial investigators in Northern Ireland. Again, Mr Will’s authorisation card does not outline this basic legal fact.
There are also very real concerns about a relentless and obsessive pursuit of Protestant door supervisors by a particular SIA official known as Mr Ian Guest. This individual has sent countless dozens of letters to door supervisors demanding information and issuing all sorts of legally vacuous threats in an attempt to bully and intimidate persons, often from socially deprived communities.
On many of these occasions, in letters seen by Unionist Voice, Mr Guest has referred to his powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Order 1984. It is understood he was blissfully unaware that such legislation does not apply in Northern Ireland.
The research carried out by Unionist Voice demonstrates three key facts;
 The SIA are disproportionately targeting persons from a Protestant background and those working in unionist communities- whilst never visiting any clubs or pubs in republican areas.
 The SIA are going far beyond the powers given to them by Parliament, and are being facilitated in doing so by the PSNI- and potentially other police forces across the United Kingdom.
 SIA investigators, with no legal power to operate in Northern Ireland, are providing legally misleading authorisation cards during forced entry into residential dwellings.
Unionist Voice has provided a substantial written report into the SIA’s gross abuse of their powers to a number of MPs and asked that this matter be raised urgently with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State and that it is brought to Parliament’s attention that this statutory body corporate is wildly out of control and acting far beyond the terms set out in the enabling statute.
This article first appeared in Unionist Voice