HL Deb 04 February 2005 vol 669 cc501-2

12.33 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 17 January be approved [6th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment seeks to close a loophole in the Private Security Industry Act 2001, whereby a company or individual in the business of wheel-clamping can sidestep the regulations simply by either blocking in a vehicle or immediately towing it away, without first bothering to clamp it, and still charge a fee for release or return.

The Private Security Industry Act 2001 was passed to introduce regulation and establish a regulatory body—the Security Industry Authority-to enable the removal from the various —sectors of the private security industry, of any criminal element who may have previously sought to use their position to pursue criminal activities, or who by the nature of previous conviction may be a threat to the public in certain roles. The industry itself has broadly welcomed the introduction of regulation, and has been campaigning for it for a number of years. It views it positively and considers it as a tool for increasing police and public confidence.

The Act designates those sectors within the private security industry that are currently subject to regulation by the authority as door supervisors: wheel-clampers on private land; security guards, including dog handlers; cash-in-transit and personal protection guards; keyholders; private investigators, and security consultants.

As the work of the authority progressed. it quickly became apparent that the more reputable wheel-clamping companies considered the absence of any regulatory requirement on those who towed or blocked vehicles to be a significant omission and error. It was felt that those who would be unable or unwilling to meet the criteria that regulation demanded of a wheel-clamper would simply go straight to towing or blocking to continue to maintain their income. It is no secret that wheel-clampers are generally held in low esteem by members of the public. Not closing this loophole would allow the actual and perceived criminality, intimidation and extortion to continue unchecked. Unsurprisingly, that is not something that we can allow to happen. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 17 January be approved [6th Report from the Joint Committee].(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

Lord Goodhart

My Lords, this seems to me an admirable order, which we are happy to support.

On Question, Motion agreed to.