Merseyside Security Bosses Fined Over Unlicensed Guards

Two security firm bosses were fined after they sent illegal security guards to protect their customers. Francis Preston, 39, and Thomas Bannister, 35, were ordered to pay £45,000 in fines and costs after sending guards without licences to businesses across Merseyside.It meant the guards they sent had not passed stringent Security Industry Authority checks which includes probes into whether guards have criminal records.

Liverpool crown court heard company director Preston and manager Bannister worked for St Helens based Preston Security and Services Ltd when they were caught in 2007. Police visited several of their customers as part of a sting called Operation Seahog. The court was they found the company’s unlicensed operatives guarding sites including Bluestone Construction in Prescot, TE Evans in Anfield and Cleanline Ltd in Rockferry. The guards often wore high visibility jackets with the company’s PSS logo.

Preston, of Park Road, St Helens, admitted nine counts of providing unlicensed operatives under the 2001 Private Security Industry Act. The firm was also prosecuted for the offences between January 2007 and January 2008. Donal Maguire, defending said the company received a licence in December 2007 which allowed bosses to issue licenses to guards while applications were pending. One offence was committed after this time because the paperwork was incorrect.

Mr Maguire said much of the prosecution’s case relied on company rotas uncovered in a police raid, which showed the company’s organisation. He said: “The business is legitimate, well run and a credit to those involved in the management. It deserves to continue to prosper and thrive.” He said Mr Preston had stepped down as the firm’s company director.

Bannister, of Dunbabin Road, Childwall, admitted eight counts under the same act. The court heard he was no longer working at the firm but had a new job and undertook charity work to encourage young people with few qualifications into work. Judge David Boulton ordered Preston Security and Services Ltd to pay £27,000 plus £5,000 court costs. He ordered Preston to pay £9,000 and Bannister to pay £4,000.

He said the regulations were introduced after the security industry had become attractive to criminal enterprises. He said: “This company is held is high regard and remains viable. A large number of the guards had the training that was necessary. Lessons have been learnt from the slips in the past. But slips they are and serious slips at that. There must be financial penalties.”

Merseyside Police Website

SIA Website