Security company Sabrewatch Limited and its directors have been ordered to pay total fines in excess of £215,000 for deploying unlicensed security operatives, despite being well aware of the law. Sabrewatch Ltd was fined £140,000 at Southwark Crown Court on Friday [26 Feb], after being found guilty on Monday last week [22 Feb] on seven of nine sample counts – many other guards were unlawfully deployed around the country.
Director and 94%shareholder Luke Lucas, 61, of Charters Towers, Felcourt Road, East Grinstead (the company address), was fined £70,000. Directors George Charalambous, 46, of South Lodge Drive, Oakwood, north London, and Anthony Hutchins, 46, of Stonehaven Drive, Woodley, Berkshire were fined £3,500 and £2,450 respectively. Lucas was well aware of his responsibility not to deploy unlicensed guards, had been advised by the SIA prior to the offence date that this would be unlawful, and yet was willing to break the law, presiding Judge Geoffrey Rivlin said. While accepting that Charalambous and Hutchins did not have the same level of involvement, Judge Rivlin said they had responsibilities as company directors, but were prepared to take a chance and risk in breaking the law.
The SIA was awarded costs of £1 million at the previous hearing, during which the court also made a confiscation order of £100,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which has been paid by Sabrewatch Ltd. Judge Rivlin said: “The reasons behind the legislation were obvious to all and were widely accepted within the profession. No one needs to be persuaded that those who are placed in positions of trust should receive basic training and testing to deal with situations and, most importantly, to ensure they are of good character.”
He told the defendants: “You found yourself in the position of telling highly valued and respected customers that guards would not be licensed; these included national names such as Marks and Spencer, Harvey Nichols, Cadbury Schweppes and GAP. All three of you levelled criticism at the SIA, and, whereas there were some difficulties with the licensing system, I do believe that as time went on and more witnesses were called, it became increasingly apparent that almost all of the criticisms were contrived and simply evaporated.”
SIA chief executive Bill Butler said: “I am pleased with the outcome of this case. The SIA has successfully concluded this prosecution, despite several challenges to its right to do so. I commend those involved for their professionalism and hard work. This case confirms our right to prosecute those who commit offences under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, and the potential for the courts to issue confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Sabrewatch and its directors persisted in supplying unlicensed guards in spite of clear and repeated warnings as to the illegality of their actions and the likely consequences. They knowingly supplied their customers with unlicensed staff while leading those customers to believe, wrongly, that this was acceptable. The substantial fines and the judge’s comments reflect the seriousness of the offences.”