Legislation proposed for private security firm crackdown

LAWMAKERS yesterday finished discussing a law proposal that gives police increased powers in a bid to put an end to the often unlawful practices of so-called private security firms.

The chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee, DISY MP Ionas Nicolaou said the proposal, that amends the law on private security firms, is an effort to effectively tackle the “private army” phenomena, which “create significant problems to Cypriot society”.

“Unfortunately, in our country today there are organised private armies and groups who seek to provide protection, not only to businesses, but to individuals,” Nicolaou said.

He said parliament will provide the police with the powers and expected the force to use them to stop these practices.

Apart from providing protection, some firms or groups resolve differences between people or collect debts, often through intimidation.

There have also been reports of such firms running protection rackets.

A number are also operating without a licence.

The proposal gives police the authority not to licence such companies for reasons of public order and state security, without however any obligation to provide justification for the decision.

It also allows police to shut down such establishments immediately by securing a court order that can be issued without the other side being present.

Authorities will also be able to prosecute individuals involved in such activities more effectively.

“It is time for some issues that create significant problems to Cypriot society to be dealt with now before it is too late,” Nicolaou said. “We want police to have the authority and power to enforce law and order effectively.”