NETWORK OF CONTACT POINTS FOR PRIVATE
Initiative of the Kingdom of Spain on the setting up of a network of contact points of national authorities responsible for private security.
||Articles 29,30(1) and 34(2)(c) EU; consultation; unanimity
|Deposited in Parliament:
||4 February 2002|
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 15 February 2002
|Previous Committee Report:
|To be discussed in Council:
||Not cleared; further information requested
5.1 As a result of two expert seminars in recent years
which have expressed concerns about the private security industry,
the Spanish Presidency has decided to launch this draft Decision.
It also considers that those operating within the industry need
to be able to extend their business interests to other Member
5.2 The document proposes the establishment of a network
of contact points selected by the national authorities responsible
for private security, which would be chaired by the national authority
holding the Presidency of the Council, assisted by the Council
Secretariat. The objectives of the network would be to facilitate
co-ordination and co-operation, to exchange information on models
of regulating private security, and to establish best practice.
In the longer term, the possibility of approximating models and
best practices would be explored.
5.3 In addition, an Internet site is proposed to allow
access to relevant Member State legislation, and to information
about companies. The site would establish a permanent contact
between the national authorities and provide an opportunity for
exchanges of experience.
The Government's view
5.4 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the
Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth ) tells us:
"The Government welcomes the broad thrust of this proposal,
which is primarily geared to improving the operation of the European
Single Market in the private security industry."
5.5 However, he lists a number of aspects of the proposal
on which the Government will be seeking reassurance. He emphasises
the need for the Internet site to be developed in full accordance
with the requirements of the EU Data Protection Directive and
the Data Protection Act 1998, and points out that it could be
very resource-intensive. He also notes the need for clarification
both about where responsibility for the Internet site and for
the network would lie and about how either would be financed.
5.6 The Minister adds:
"given the fact that the private security industry takes
on quasi-police functions in some Member States, there must be
satisfactory arrangements in place for handling the Third Pillar
aspects of the proposal."
5.7 The Minister tells us that the UK does not currently
have an obvious body to act as the national authority, as envisaged
in the proposal. Although the Security Industry Authority will
be established in 2003, with responsibility for regulating and
improving standards in the industry, its remit will extend to
England and Wales only. The Government will consider with the
devolved administrations how best to participate in the initiative.
He continues: "since the Security Industry Authority will
not license security companies on a compulsory basis, the UK will
not have the ability to supply the network envisaged in this proposal
with comprehensive company data."
5.8 The Minister tells us that the Presidency intends
to secure adoption of this proposal at the April JHA Council.
5.9 We find several aspects of this proposal and of
the Government's Explanatory Memorandum somewhat puzzling.
5.10 The Minister underlines one of the Presidency's
objectives by describing the proposal as "primarily geared
to improving the operation of the European Single Market in the
private security industry". If it is, indeed, intended to
improve the industry's freedom to provide services within the
Community, why does it not have an EC legal base ? It is not clear
to us just how the proposal would fulfil this objective anyway;
its content seems more concerned with improved surveillance of
the industry than with increasing its freedom to provide services.
We ask for clarification.
5.11 Further, we ask what the Minister means by saying
"there must be satisfactory arrangements in place for handling
the Third Pillar aspects of the proposal", when the entire
proposal currently falls within the Third Pillar.
5.12 Finally, given the UK's current inability to
identify a national authority or to provide the kind of data envisaged
in the proposal, we ask how the Government plans to proceed. Will
it negotiate for a less ambitious network, or extend the scope
of the Security Industry Authority?
5.13 We shall be surprised if the proposal in its
present state is considered ready for adoption in April. We will
keep it under scrutiny until we have the Minister's response.
Third Pillar is Justice and Home Affairs, and is an inter-governmental
part of the EU's activity. Back