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Former security boss pleads guilty to supplying unlicensed security

On 20th December 2023, former company director, Shaun O’Neill and his company were sentenced at Warrington Magistrates’ Court.

Mr O’Neill pleaded guilty to employing unlicensed security operatives. He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £423 and a victim surcharge £400.

I Guard Security entered guilty pleas to three separate offences of employing unlicensed security operatives in Merseyside and Cheshire. The company was fined £3,000 with £424 in costs and a victim surcharge of £1,200, amounting to a total of £4,624. 

Jack O’Neill, the nephew of Shaun O’Neill, pleaded guilty to working without a licence, for which he was fined £202, £423 in costs and a victim surcharge of £81.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) brought the prosecutions following a joint enforcement initiative on 22 October 2022 with Cheshire Police and Cheshire West Council licensing officers at licensed premises in Northwich.

SIA investigators attended at two bars in Northwich and spoke to two door supervisors, one at each venue. Further checks revealed that the licences of the two individuals had expired on 7 and 14 August 2022 respectively.

Examination of the signing-in register at the premises revealed that they had signed in at the venues numerous times from when their licences had expired until the date of the inspection.

The door supervisors were cautioned. On being challenged, each admitted to working as a door supervisor while in possession of an expired licence and that they had been employed by Shaun O’Neill of I Guard Security.

Subsequently, Shaun O’Neill was interviewed by the SIA Criminal Investigation team on 1 June 2023 at a location in Liverpool for the October 2022 offences.

Shaun O’Neill, who was sole director of I Guard Security Ltd at the times of the offences, claimed that the two female operatives were not employees of I Guard Security during the times that they had worked unlicensed.

In early June 2023 further offences relating to Shaun O’Neill and I Guard Security were identified, and these were incorporated into the investigation.

While attending an inspection at a bar in Southport, Merseyside on 16 June 2023, SIA investigators spoke with a male who appeared to be engaged in licensable conduct. He produced an SIA licence in the name S. O’Neill. It was known that this male was not S. O’Neill and when challenged he admitted that he was Jack O’Neill.

Jack O’Neill is not the holder of an SIA licence. He said that his uncle, Shaun O’Neill had given him his SIA licence and asked him to work at the venue.

Examination of the door register at Level 1 revealed that an S. O’Neill had signed in the register an additional eight times going back to 19 May 2023. Examination of CCTV from the venue also provided evidence that Jack O’Neill was working as a door supervisor at these times. 

Shaun O’Neill was further interviewed for the June 2023 offences on 21 August 2023. He stated that Jack O’Neill was his nephew and that Jack had taken his own SIA licence without his permission nor was he aware that Jack O’Neill was working at Level 1.

Jack O’Neill declined the opportunity to be interviewed.

Mark Chapman, one of the SIA’s criminal investigations managers, said:

“Shaun O’Neill and I Guard Security have been sentenced having admitted to deploying illegal security into the Cheshire and Merseyside night-time economies. The SIA licensing regime exists to protect the public. 

Mr O’Neill let down his client and the patrons of the venues on several occasions, showing a pattern of negligence and poor conduct. 

We are grateful to our enforcement partners Cheshire Police and Cheshire West Council for their assistance in helping us to identify the licence offending.”

By law, security operatives working under contract must hold and display a valid SIA licence.

Information about SIA enforcement and penalties can be found here: 

GOV.UK/SIA

The offence(s) relating to the Private Security Industry Act 2001 that is mentioned above is:

Section 3         engaging in licensable conduct without a licence

Section 5 (1)    employing unlicensed persons in licensable conduct

Section 5 (by way of Section 23) Consent, connivance or neglect of directors for employing unlicensed guards

Further information:

The SIA is the organisation responsible for regulating the private security industry in the UK, reporting to the Home Secretary under the terms of the Private Security Industry Act 2001. The SIA’s main duties are: the compulsory licensing of individuals undertaking designated activities; and managing the voluntary Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS).

For further information about the SIA or to sign up for email updates visit:

http://www.gov.uk/sia

The SIA is also on: 

LinkedIn (Security Industry Authority)Facebook (@thesiauk) and Twitter (@SIAuk).

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