Firms to miss out on ‘private eye’ exemptions

But ministers have agreed that members of the ICAEW and other professional accounting bodies will not themselves need licences from the new Security Industry Authority.

Ministers agreed registered accountants could forego the licences, but said exempting non-qualified staff would give accountancy firms an unfair advantage over other security operations.

The Private Security Industry Bill will establish a licence and registering system for people working in private investigations or as security consultants. It also establishes a Security Industry Authority to license individuals and supervise the industry.

Because of the onset of election campaigning, the Bill was hurried through before the dissolution of parliament.

The last-minute rejection of the accountancy firms case came from Home Office minister Charles Clarke,

Tory spokesman Nick Hawkins said he had received a submission from the ICAEW complaining the amendments agreed in the Lords, to secure the position of professional accountants, did not go far enough. According to Hawkins, students or part-time employees were not covered and the Bill ought to go further.

But Clark said the Bill was targeted at private eyes and other security firms and the intention was not to target accountants themselves.

The government recognised that large firms particularly had diversified and offered services affected by the legislation.

Accountants were excluded because of professional qualifications, but to exempt other employees of firms undertaking designated activities would create ‘serious uneven playing field’, Clark said.

The liberal democrats sought the reverse: to prevent accountants who branch out in to the security industry escaping the licensing regime if they go beyond accountancy work and engage in activities of wider security nature.


More on the Bill from Home Office website

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