Guilty plea for unlicensed security boss who claimed business was “just a hobby”

Swindon Magistrates Court

Swindon Magistrates Court

A Swindon man who claimed that his security business was “just a hobby” has pleaded guilty to working without a licence. James Barnett, the director of Gold Shield Group Ltd and its three subsidiaries, made the admission at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 17 October. Barnett undertook security contracts and deployed security operatives despite the fact that his Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence was suspended in March 2017.

Barnett also pleaded guilty to failing to respond to a legally-enforceable request for information from the SIA, who brought the prosecution.

Nathan Salmon of the SIA’s criminal investigations team, commented: “The business of providing protection for people and property is a very serious one. In no way can something that’s so important be described as a “hobby”. That importance is why there’s a firm system of regulation in place for security businesses. As the regulator, the SIA takes a very dim view of anyone who seeks to flout the law for their own profit. Barnett deceived the public, and his clients, by purporting to be a legally-operating security provider.”

The SIA brought the prosecution following prolonged compliance activity by the SIA’s regional team covering the West, which discovered that Barnett was still listed as the sole director of Gold Shield Security (Swindon) Ltd despite the suspension of his licence. Although he did temporarily resign his directorship, Barnett returned to the role and remained director of the parent company.

Barnett was invited to interview by the SIA, during which he made the claim that his business was “a hobby”, and one which he ran from his spare room. He also claimed that he only did the administration for the company and that another individual was taking over the directorship.

However, when the SIA contacted a customer with whom Gold Shield Security (Swindon) Ltd had a contract between June 2018 and March this year, they confirmed that they had only ever dealt with Barnett. Invoices and e-mail exchanges confirmed that Barnett was still operating as the company’s director.

Sentencing was deferred pending a financial investigation by the SIA under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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