At Teesside Crown Court on Friday 30 June 2017, Christopher Catchpole was sentenced to 32 months of imprisonment following a guilty plea to offences of money laundering, supplying an unlicensed security operative and being the director of a security company without having a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence. The sentence represents the conclusion of a lengthy investigation involving a number of local enforcement partners including the SIA.
In 2014, the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team (RART) contacted investigators at the SIA with concerns regarding Catchpole and his security company, Prolock Security North East Ltd. SIA investigators conducted a number of site visits and found an unlicensed security officer working on a site in Stockton-On-Tees. This is an offence under the Private Security Industry Act 2001.
Catchpole was the director of the company who supplied the unlicensed officer and the SIA discovered that he was also unlicensed himself. This provided the catalyst to investigate Catchpole and his security company further and, ultimately, to report the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
SIA investigators worked closely with the RART and used their powers under the Private Security Industry Act to obtain information relating to the conduct of Catchpole and his security business.
While this prosecution was underway, the police also had an ongoing investigation into Catchpole for the part he was suspected to have played in an organised criminal group who were involved in the supply of Class A drugs. As a result, the SIA worked with the police prior to Catchpole being charged and sentencing was postponed until the drugs case was concluded.
New security company
In 2016, Catchpole formed a new security company and SIA investigators carried out additional site visits. They identified more security operatives who were working without SIA licences.
SIA investigators found Catchpole had profited significantly from the security contracts that he had secured. They were able to provide evidence in court that Catchpole’s activities had deprived legitimate security companies from obtaining £1.1 million of business.
Catchpole was charged in March 2015. Sentencing was adjourned until 30 June 2017 when Catchpole was sentenced to 32 months behind bars for money laundering and offences under the Private Security Industry Act.
Catchpole is also subject to a Serious Crime Prevention Order which will come into effect once he’s released from prison. The Order includes a condition that he must not have a role in any business relating to security.
The RART and the CPS are now taking steps to recover the proceeds of Catchpole’s criminality, with a further hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act set for November this year.
Disregard for the law
The SIA’s criminal investigations manager Pete Easterbrook said: “Christopher Catchpole operated a security business with a complete disregard for the law and gave no thought whatsoever to the consequences of supplying unlicensed security operatives. In addition, this investigation has highlighted the significant financial loss to legitimate businesses through his unlawful activities, and the profit made by Catchpole at the expense of his customers.”
Easterbrook went on to comment: “Catchpole is now serving a considerable prison sentence, and this is due in no small part to the excellent relationship built up between the SIA and our partner agencies. I would particularly like to thank colleagues from the North East RART for the tenacity and commitment they’ve shown during this investigation. The SIA will continue to work with partners to take robust action against those who use the security industry as a vehicle for their criminality.”
DS Thomas Maughan from the North East RART, who led this investigation, explained: “The sentence of 32 months imprisonment is a reflection of the seriousness of the offending. Christopher Catchpole ran a very lucrative security business without a licence, trained staff or valid insurance. He has shown a blatant disregard for the SIA and regulations throughout and continued to trade illegally for over a year after conviction. We have instigated a Proceeds of Crime Act timetable and will continue to pursue anybody who gains from their criminal activities.”
Maughan concluded: “The Serious Crime Prevention Order granted means that, for five years after his release from prison, the police can monitor Catchpole’s activities and prevent him from committing similar offences in the future. I would like to thank the CPS, the SIA and the North East Regional Serious Organised Crime Unit for their assistance in this protracted investigation.”