Security supplier subject to curfew after being found guilty of supplying unlicensed guards

A security supplier has been electronically tagged after being found guilty of supplying unlicensed security guards and failing to provide material to the Security Industry Authority.

Duncan Thorburn, 54, 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 SIA, and one count of making a false statement to the SIA.

Thorburn, of Newark Road, Newark, was in addition a director of Thor Security Services Limited, a former SIA Approved Contractor. Seventeen additional counts of supplying unlicensed security guards against Thorburn as 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 guards were supplied.

During their initial enquiries, SIA investigators uncovered irregularities in the paperwork submitted by Thorburn. The investigation went on to identify unlicensed security guards George and Kevin Hannah who were being deployed by Thorburn through Thor Security. George and Kevin Hannah were consequently prosecuted by the SIA and fined for working without an SIA licence in October 2010.

Thorburn attempted to hide the fact that he was using unlicensed security guards by failing to provide material to the SIA, altering documentation and falsely claiming that some material was routinely destroyed.

Thorburn entered a not guilty plea in June and this was maintained throughout the course of the trial 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 SIA Approved Contractor status, as well as Thor Security Services Limited, and thus he was entitled to supply unlicensed guards under Licence Dispensation Notices. He also claimed he was unaware the guards were unlicensed. Both arguments were dismissed by the judge.

The prosecution was able to prove that Thorburn had knowingly and regularly deployed 10 unlicensed security guards 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 (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 9pm and 7am, and was ordered to pay £1000 towards prosecution costs.

Of Thorburn’s deployment of the unlicensed guards, Judge Caroline Goulborn said Thorburn was “in control of the company” and therefore had “ultimate responsibility.” Thorburn could not rely on the defence of not knowing the guards 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 SIA, Judge Goulborn said: “In my view, that was an attempt by Thorburn to try and hide the fact that his company was using unlicensed guards and I find no reasonable excuse for Thorburn’s non compliance. “Thorburn deliberately kept back information from the SIA and that documentation which had been available was deliberately destroyed, a serious offence.”

SIA Head of Investigation Sara Brennan said: “This is the first SIA prosecution where electronic tagging has been a penalty and I am satisfied with the decision of the Court. This investigation uncovered a large number of offences, which demonstrated a prolonged willingness to supply unlicensed security guards, presenting a potential risk to the public.

“A thorough investigation was not deterred by incriminating information being doctored by Duncan Thorburn prior to being handed to the SIA. A number of witnesses courageously provided evidence on behalf of the SIA, which led to this conviction.”

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