Drunks, liars, aliases: Security guards stripped of licenses
In the first six months of this year, the NSW Police Security Licensing & Enforcement Directorate (SLED) rejected or cancelled a whopping 500 security guard licenses or applications with almost 100 of those on the grounds they had criminal records.
Some of the cases it has prosecuted paints a picture of lawlessness in the industry nationally.
But the biggest failure is the fact under the national Mutual Recognition Act, NSW had to issue NSW security guard licenses to those who had licenses obtained under less stringent laws in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.
Indeed the NSW Supreme Court ordered a security licence be granted to a Queensland woman with 20 known aliases and multiple outstanding warrants for fraud because it was her right under the Act.
An investigation by News Corp Australia last month attracted wide debate about the issue.
Many guards, notably from Victoria are on student and working holiday visas, who work for tiny wages as sub-sub contractors with a view to later transferring to NSW.
Equally troubling is the number of "training schools" facilitating these licenses.
Below are examples of cases heard in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal highlighting the broad issues with the industry.
John Arida took on the Commissioner of Police appealing a decision to revoke both his security license and master license in January this year, for multiple security failings during an art and music "family" festival in Shoalhaven.
Police were called to the "The Origins of Entropy: Open Air Lifestyle, Art and Music" initially for a noise complaint and then on three other occasions. Such was the set up, police in a 4WD struggled to get to the venue and then were blocked entrance by a woman who said it was a private party even though attendants had paid $200 a ticket to attend. Once inside the gates, officers saw tents and cars scattered over half of the 20 acre property. There were a total of three security guards including Mr Arida whom the officer said was off shift and was woken up but smelt of intoxication and had bloodshot eyes, was slurring and appeared glazed. He told police he had had mouthwash but later conceded to have drunk a couple of wines. The officer assessed the event should have had 14 security guards at any one time working shifts of 10 hours.
One of the other guards, Jayson Baker who had previously run a security business and had a criminal history including possession and supply prohibited drugs, was also spoken to by police who told the Tribunal hearing he appeared unsteady on his feet and affected by something as well. Many patrons were walking about with alcohol and marijuana could be smelt in the air. The festival was shut down. The Civil and Administrative Tribunal concluded while Mr Arida while a fit and proper person it was not in the public's interest for him to hold a master license however he could hold an individual 1ACE licence.
Jasmin Naylor took the police commissioner to tribunal for revocation of her master license in 2014 for allegedly failing to disclose that her husband Muhammad Farooq was a close associate of her company but had a criminal record for larceny. He was disqualified from holding a NSW security license but went to the ACT and got one there and under the Mutual Recognition Act had to be given a NSW one. The pair registered Essential Security Pty Ltd with the trading name Excellent Security back in 2010. They conceded Mr Farooq's conviction for a proscribed offence and as such the company was refused a master license with multiple appeals failing.
In 2011 Ms Naylor lodged a change of company details removing Mr Farooq's name as a director declaring he was now a manager employee and he was a "transformed person" since his prior conviction. She was granted a master licence and at their premises the pair began delivering security training for applicants for Queensland security licences via a company called Peacekeepers Security Training Institute. The move was to allow those refused a NSW license a Queensland one since, as Ms Naylor (who wanted to become an Australian Federal Police officer) conceded they could "satisfy the less strict Queensland criteria" and then under Mutual Recognition laws take the "backdoor" method to get a NSW one. In further evidence it was clear Queensland licenses were being issued to people who didn't even bother doing training courses but paid between $550 and $700.
Police also said they did not believe it was in the public's interest in 2017 to allow Naeem Ahmed to hold a license as he was a director of Oz Ain Pty Ltd trading as OPL Training Institute registered in NSW linked to Queensland company Peacemakers Security Pty Ltd (also known as Peacekeepers) to help NSW residents get a Queensland licence to enable them to automatically get a NSW license.
"It is alleged that Mr Ahmed facilitated security training where students were given the answers to assessments in order to obtain a security training certificate," the Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.
Contracts seized by licensing police saw there was a contract between Mr Ahmed and Peacekeepers to conduct training for them and it was alleged this was to circumvent NSW laws and there was no proper training. He also had another company Zys Supreme Services also linked to Peacekeepers to give NSW residents training for Queensland. There were witnesses who gave evidence that they enrolled at Oz Ain for training and paid fees, never attended but issued with Queensland security licenses. Peacemakers was also shut down in 2016 by the Australian Skills Quality Authority which moved to cancel 2700 security certificates of attainment issued to more than 1200 security guards.
In Victoria, another training company Austwide Institute of training Pty Ltd was found to be "critically non-compliant" and cancelled another 756 security qualifications. Austwide had affiliations with at least two other Victorian training schools and security firms which remain under scrutiny. Contracts were cancelled in 2016 and 2017.
"Behaviour is not the typical 'noncompliance' detected by ASQA during its regulatory work, where training organisations are actually providing training and assessment but are not fully meeting their regulatory obligations" ASQA stated adding the Peacemakers and Austwide actions "damages the standing of Australia's vocational education and training system and warrants this strong response by the regulator".
Mohamed Khalaf was the sole director of QLD Protection Security Pty Ltd looking to give NSW residents Queensland licenses. The company through which Mr Khalaf was alleged to have facilitated his involvement in this scheme was Safety and First Aid Education Pty Ltd, a company of which he was the owner and director and CEO. His and his company licences were stripped and multiple hearings ensued from between 2017 through to November last year with Mr Khalef maintaining he did nothing wrong under the provision of the Mutual Recognition Act but SLED responding with a range of allegations related to questionable conduct in thee awarding of qualifications and provision of false information and mischief. It threatened to become something of a test case for the Act's principles before the Supreme Court however leave for hearing was denied. Mr Khalef did not pursue his case and was ordered to pay $10,500 costs.
Originally published as Drunks, liars, 20 aliases: Security guards stripped of licenses