I had a query recently relating to the law on security staff being by asked by the public to identify themselves by name and/or ID number and if this was a legal obligation or not. It’s something I see come up a lot so I asked the person if I could write about here. It will be short and sweet but it’s important to know.
1. If a member of the public asks you for your name do you have to give it?
2. If a member of the public asks you for your ID number do you have to give it?
3. If someone wants to take a photo of your licence do you have to allow it?
4. Can your employer force you to do so?
5. If you are asked by the Gardai do you have to give your name?
The security industry in Ireland is regulated by the Private Security Services Act 2004. In addition to this Act there are many statutory instruments which have added to or altered the original Act. The main part of the legislation which relates to identity badges are Section 29 and Section 30. Basically what they say is that the licence holder is legally obliged to have his/her identity badge in their possession and have it on display. Section 29 also covers powers of the Gardai or a PSA inspector to compel a security person to produce the ID and/or give a name and address but I’ll cover that later.
On the PSA website there is also a document on identity badge guidelines to support these sections which spells out the PSA’s expectations in regard to how and where the licence should be displayed and exemptions to the guidelines (for example store detectives) . Now bear in mind that I said ‘guidelines’ here. A guideline is not a law or even a regulation and cannot be enforced as one but more on this later.
What you legally have to do
Basically what is legally required is:
1. You must wear your licence at all times while performing a security duty.
2. It must be clearly visible to the public
3. It must be worn between the neck and the waistline
4. It cannot be held on the waist, under a jacket, behind a tie or obstructed in any way.
In lieu of wearing a licence an employee of a licenced security contractor can be issued an identity card in a manner prescribed by the PSA but it still must adhere to the above.
So following on from the above I will answer the questions one by one:
Question 1: If a member of the public asks you for your name do you have to give it.
Answer 1: No. There is nothing in any law or guideline that states that you must give your name to a member of the public. There is no breach of any law by refusing to do so and you are entitled to refuse to give your name.
Question 2: If a member of the public asks you for your ID number do you have to give it?
Answer 2: No. You must display it in a visible way but you do not have to recite it to anybody. The guidelines for identity badges does say ” It is recommended that, where a member of the public expresses a wish to make a mental or written note of the licence number on the licence card or ID badge worn, the wearer should afford the requestor sufficient time to make such a note, without surrendering or handing over the licence card or ID badge to the requestor.”
This doesn’t change anything. It is a recommendation from a guideline and there is nothing here which compels a person to give a person their ID number.
Question 3: If someone wants to take a photo of your licence do you have to allow it?
Answer 3: No. Double edged sword here. There is nothing in law that allows a person to take a photo of you or your licence. Do you do not have to stand there and allow it to happen. There is also no law that allows you to use force to prevent somebody taking a picture in a public place even if it’s of you. You don’t have to stand there and allow the picture to be taken but you can’t use force to stop it.
Question 4: Can your employer force you to do so?
Answer 4: No. There is no company policy in the world that can override your right to privacy and safety. So any policy that says you must give your name/photo to a member of the public would be null and void.
Question 5: If you are asked by the Gardai do you have to give your name.
Answer 5: Yes you do. Same for a PSA inspector. Under Section 29 of the Act a Garda or PSA inspector may ask you to produce your licence. If you do not produce your licence there and then they can compel you to give your name and address by law. If you refuse to do either you can be arrested by the Gardai. Offences under this section can carry a fine of up to €2000.
If you produce a fake licence or somebody else’s licence you can face up to a €3000 fine or 12 months in prison.
Note: A manager in the venue where you are working also has power under this law to request to view and inspect your licence and this must be allowed.
I hope this helps those of you with queries. Feel free to get in touch with any questions.