Protection rackets still at large in trade

By Tony Halstead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags License Sia

SIA has defended its procedures
SIA has defended its procedures
Police claim criminals still operate protection rackets at pubs and clubs, despite tough vetting and registration procedures of doormen introduced...

Police claim criminals still operate protection rackets at pubs and clubs, despite tough vetting and registration procedures of doormen introduced three years ago.

The Police Federation says gangs are extracting cash from premises where doormen are Security Industry Association (SIA) licensed.

Federation spokesman George Gallimore said police could not effectively combat a situation where criminals "bypassed the system".

Gallimore said reports that the federation was criticising SIA licensing and vetting procedures were wide of the mark. "It is difficult to police situations where criminals operate underground and use a front man to coerce money out of licensees.

"You cannot vet an invisible person. If someone without a criminal record applies for an SIA licence they are probably going to get one."

Gallimore, who gave evidence to the Commons Culture Media & Sport Select Committee hearing this week on the impact of the new Licensing Act, said: "Hopefully the committee will have evidence to make a judgement on whether police have sufficient manpower and resources to tackle protection rackets."

SIA

Since SIA doorman registration became compulsory in 2005, a total of 116,000 licences have been issued, 7,300 refused and 3,700 revoked.

The SIA has defended its vetting procedures and says new rules were introduced earlier this month, when more offences were added to the list of criteria used to consider licence applications.

"We cannot investigate protection rackets, but we can accept information from our enforcement partners to revoke or suspend an SIA licence," said spokesman Robert Buxton. "If an SIA licence holder was involved in illegal activity, such as a protection racket, they would lose their licence."

Guild of Master Victuallers spokesman Joe O'Riordan said protection rackets are "still a problem", particularly in big cities, but would be "surprised" if it was quite as prevalent as a few years ago.

"The most common kind is for doormen to provoke fights to make you employ more doormen than needed. I know pubs with three doormen, when they actually only need two.

"My advice to licensees is, 'don't be weak'. If you don't stand up, then you will get bullied. You should go to the police or local authority and expose what's going on."

Do protection rackets operate in your area? Email wbua.uneevatgba@jvyyvnz-errq.pb.hx​ or call 01293 610481.

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