The New Zealand Security Association: Security Industry Awards 2017

  • Mark Mitchell

Can I start by thanking the New Zealand Security Association for inviting me here tonight. It is great to be here to acknowledge and celebrate with you the great work and professionalism of your industry.

I specifically want to acknowledge Gary Morrison, CEO of the New Zealand Security Association.

In my speech tonight, I’m going to talk about the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act and its modernised regulatory regime, and I will also touch briefly on some of the work the Government is doing in the industry’s area.

Before entering Parliament, I spent quite a few years in the New Zealand Police, and later operated my own security company overseas.

During that time, I have seen the industry become more regulated and professional. The sector provides a wide range of important services, ranging from crowd control and conflict management to technical security installation.

The work of security personnel is highly-valued and they hold a responsible role in our community. Your clients and the public depend on you to protect them and their property. The Act reflects this by setting clear standards for the industry.

Professionalism does not exist in isolation.  It is created when the workplace culture that employers create is based on respect, integrity and excellence.

Many in the security industry, including the New Zealand Security Association, were actively engaged in the legislative process and provided valuable input into the development of the current regime.

The Act replaced legislation from the 1970s which was clearly out-of-date and in need of reform. The new Act modernised the regulatory regime for the industry, helping to ensure security services are provided in a safe and professional manner and inspire public confidence.

The Act made many changes. It clarified and extended categories of licences and certificates. It significantly increased the penalties for people operating without those licences or certificates. It also set a five-year renewal period, instead of annual renewals, reducing compliance costs.

One of the key changes the Act made was to set clear training requirements to improve safety for both security staff and the people they come in contact with.

The Minimum Training Regulations came into force in 2013, prescribing training requirements for property guards, personal guards and crowd controllers. The requirements recognise that as front-line security personnel, they are likely to encounter situations involving physical confrontation.  

The Act requires that registered personnel must demonstrate knowledge of the industry, including the relevant law, and conflict situation management skills. This ensures they are well equipped to address the risk of harm associated with such situations and keep both the public and themselves safe.

The Act also established the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority, which is supported by the Ministry of Justice, and the Complaints, Investigation and Prosecution Unit with the Department of Internal Affairs.   Both have been doing good work to administer and enforce the regime.

The Authority processes on average between 3,500 and 4,500 applications for licences and certificates per year. Also, more than 150 matters have been referred to the Complaints, Investigation and Prosecution Unit since its establishment.

The Government is working on making operational improvements. The Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on 1 August, will make various improvements to the operation of the Authority. The proposed changes will enable greater use of modern technology, such as allowing hearings by digital technology. This will further improve efficiency, effectiveness and timeliness.

The Bill will also enable the Authority to discipline for unsatisfactory conduct, such as bullying, in addition to disciplining for misconduct. This will help provide better consumer protection and further increase public confidence.

The ongoing engagement with sector representatives like the Security Association is valuable and instrumental in keeping the industry and the regulatory regime functioning properly.

Currently, the Government is also working on making minor amendments to the Minimum Training Regulations to address concerns raised by the association. The Minimum Training Regulations were intended to apply to front-line staff because they have the potential to encounter physical conflict in their work. However, they currently also capture office-based staff who do not have any front-line responsibilities but come under the category of “property guard” or “property guard employees”.

The amendments to the regulations are designed to clarify that staff who do not go out to patrol and guard premises are not required to undertake conflict management training. We will keep you informed as this work progresses.

The roles and expectations of the security industry have changed greatly throughout the years and the public recognises the valuable contribution you make in the community.

You play a huge role in keeping businesses and communities safe and it is great to see the outstanding work, professionalism and excellence that we are all here to recognise and celebrate tonight. I congratulate all the finalists for their outstanding work, and their employers for supporting them to achieve.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to be here and be part of this special event.