At Luton Crown Court on 5 July, a Bedfordshire security director was sentenced to 27 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Thomas John Rice, 42, of Bedford Road, Wilstead, Bedfordshire, ran Paragon Security Services, a vehicle clamping and removal business based in Bedfordshire. Rice did not hold an SIA licence, and his company employed staff without frontline vehicle immobiliser licences, or whose licences had expired.
Paragon Security ran from October 2005 to 2011. It is estimated that during that time £500,000 was taken from parking services. When the SIA became aware of Paragon Security, Rice provided false names to the SIA and employed licensed staff for a few weeks to give the appearance of a responsible company.
Rice was not charged with offences under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, but was instead charged with offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The charge of acquiring criminal property related to proceeds of crime made from providing parking services (clamping) without the appropriate SIA licence.
Darren Woodhouse, an SIA Head of Investigation said: “The sentencing Judge said that the licensing regime was set up by Parliament to protect the public from “cowboy clampers”, that an unlicensed business like Rice’s left the public unprotected. The Judge recognised that Rice had deliberately chosen not to get a licence because his previous convictions for violence and dishonesty meant his application would be turned down.
“The Judge said that the company takings were significant amount of money, and no VAT or tax was paid on it. In sentencing Rice the Judge said that if it was not for his guilty plea, Rice would have received a sentence of 2.5 years.”