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This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Private Security Licences (Vic)


In Victoria, anyone who wants to work in private security must be licensed. Private security licences are governed by the Private Security Act 2004. This articles describes when licences  are needed, how they are obtained, and what happens when licence-holders err.

Activities permitted under a licence

There are three type of private security licences: Class A, Class B, or Sub-activities. Depending on the type of licence held, a person can perform several security guard roles including bodyguards, crowd controllers, investigators, and control room operators.

Bodyguard

A bodyguard is employed to provide close personal protection for a person.

Crowd controller

A crowd controller is employed to maintain order at a venue by screening at entry, monitoring or controlling behaviour, and ejecting patrons.

Investigators

An investigator is engaged to collect and provide information on the character or actions of a person or business, or to search for a missing person.

Security guard sub-activities

A security guard can be employed to protect property by patrolling the property and/or monitoring it via CCTV radio or alarms. They can be licensed to perform up to six sub-roles: armed guard, unarmed guard, cash-in-transit guard, control room operator, monitoring centre operator, or guard with a dog.

Eligibility for a licence

To be eligible for private security licence in Victoria, a person must:

  • be an adult;
  • be an Australian resident or hold a current visa;
  • provide a national police check;
  • provide an international police check (if applicable);
  • not be a prohibited person;
  • be a fit and proper person;
  • have completed specified training;
  • provide written references.

Business applicants may also have to provide evidence of public liability insurance, business plans, evidence of financial viability, or other documents.

An application for a private security individual or business registration is required if a person or business offers services including installation of security equipment such as cameras, safes, alarms, motion detectors and biometric access devices.

There is a public register of licence, registration and permit holders. All holders of a current Victorian private security individual or business licence appear on the register.

Conditions

Conditions may be placed on a private security licence such as those in relation to:

  • training requirements;
  • carrying of equipment;
  • the notification of any serious medical or psychiatric condition or impairment which could affect the licence holder’s ability to perform activities under the licence.

Failure to comply with a condition incurs a maximum penalty of 10 penalty units ($1652.20). A licence holder can apply to have a condition varied or revoked.

A person who holds a private security licence and/or registration in another state can apply for “mutual recognition” to work in Victoria.

Firearms

A person who holds a firearm licence for security guard or prison guard purposes must complete a specific firearms training course annually. Once the course has been completed, the licence holder must submit the completion certificate to authorities to have the licence renewed.

These firearm licences have a common expiry date of June 30 each year. Failure to re-qualify means a firearm licence could be suspended and the holder of the suspended licence cannot handle a firearm, despite holding a valid private security licence.

Complaints

A person affected by the behaviour of a private security licence holder can make a complaint to the Chief Commissioner of Police within 3 months of the behaviour. The Chief Commissioner must investigate to determine whether a disciplinary is required.

Disciplinary inquiry

The Chief Commissioner can decide to hold a disciplinary inquiry if they are satisfied there are grounds for believing that the private security licence holder:

  • would be refused a licence if they were to reapply;
  • has contravened a licence condition;
  • has conducted themselves in a way that is unfair, dishonest or discreditable in carrying out activities authorised by the licence.

The Chief Commissioner must notify the private security licence holder if a disciplinary inquiry is to be held, the grounds for it, and how and by when the licence holder should make submissions. They can choose to suspend the licence, or authority for certain activities under the licence, until the inquiry is completed.

After an inquiry, if the Chief Commissioner believes there has been a private security licence contravention, they can:

  • take no action;
  • reprimand the licence-holder;
  • impose or vary a licence condition;
  • suspend the licence, or authority for certain activities under the licence, for up to a year;
  • cancel the licence, or authority for certain activities under the licence; and
    • restrict the licence holder from reapplying, or applying to reinstate the authority, for up to five years.

The Chief Commissioner must notify the private security licence holder of any decision and the reasons for it. If a licence is suspended or cancelled, it must be surrendered within 7 days, or the holder will be liable to a maximum penalty of 10 penalty units ($1652.20).

A private security licence holder can appeal a decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) within 28 days of the decision,

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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