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

22 October 2019


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 Investigation Team, said:

“The business of providing protection for people and property is a very serious one. In no way can something that is so important be described as a “hobby”. That importance is why there is a firm system of regulation in place for security businesses. The SIA, as the regulator, take a very dim view of anyone who seeks to flout the law for their own profit. Mr 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 West regional team, 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, he 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”, which he ran from his spare room. He also claimed that he only did the administration for the company, and that another person was taking over the directorship.

However, when the SIA contacted a customer with whom Gold Shield Security had a contract between June 2018 and March 2019, 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.

- Ends -

Notes to Editors:

  1. Subsidiaries of Gold Shield Group Ltd are Gold Shield Security (N. Wilts) Ltd, Gold Shield Security (Swindon) Ltd and Gold Shield Security (Wilts) Ltd.
  2. By law, security operatives working under contract must hold and display a valid SIA licence. Information about SIA enforcement and penalties can be found on the website.
  3. The offences relating to the Private Security Act (2001) that are mentioned in the above news release are as follows:
    Section 3 :working without a licence
    Section 19: failing to provide information relating to an investigation
  4. The Private Security Industry Act 2001 is available online here​.​
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Further information:

  • The Security Industry Authority is the organisation responsible for regulating the private security industry in the United Kingdom, reporting to the Home Secretary under the terms of the Private Security Industry Act 2001. Our main duties are: the compulsory licensing of individuals undertaking designated activities; and managing the voluntary Approved Contractor Scheme.
  • For further information about the Security Industry Authority or to sign up for email updates visit www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk. The SIA is also on Facebook- this link opens in a new window (Security Industry Authority) and Twitter- this link opens in a new window (SIAuk).​​​​​​​​​​​
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