The Private Security Regulation Authority (PSRA), through its Montego Bay regional office, is meeting the needs of operators in western Jamaica while ensuring adherence to professional standards and practices through increased monitoring and regulatory activities.
Operations Manager, PSRA, Vivette Webber-McLaughlin, tells JIS News that the regional office provides ease of access for individuals and companies to obtain and renew their operational licences.
“People are eager and happy to know that we are in Montego Bay, because they would have had to make the trip to Kingston,” she says.
“We have a number of companies operating in Montego Bay – small and large companies. The larger companies, such as the Marksman, Guardsman, they have offices here and security guards who work down here, so those persons can now come in to renew instead of going to Kingston,” she points out.
An agency under the Ministry of National Security, the PSRA is responsible for monitoring and regulating contract and proprietary security organisations, private security guards, private investigators, and security trainers.
The establishment of the regional office in Montego Bay, which opened in October of last year, is in keeping with efforts to improve service delivery and ensure that the contribution of private companies and individuals brings value to the country’s national security.
A key part of its activities is identifying unlicensed private security companies and getting them to become compliant.
Mrs. Webber-McLaughlin indicates that although many of these unlicensed entities are registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica, they are still required to obtain a permit to operate, through the PSRA.
“For [those] companies, one of our mandate is to go out and find them and to get them to be compliant. We have been doing that over the years. We carry out spot checks and wherever we find them we bring them in,” she points out.
“I think we have a good success rate in terms of identifying and bringing them in and getting them to comply with the regulations,” she adds.
In outlining the licensing process, Mrs. Webber-McLaughlin says that applications are received from companies and individuals, who are then interviewed and registered before being issued with a licence to operate.
“We do interviews for new applicants and renewals. Representatives are interviewed here to register new companies. We interview… and register the directors of the company and we also register the company and issue a licence, so that they can operate,” she says.
She points out that there are a number of requirements that companies and individuals must meet in order to complete the licensing process. Individuals, in particular, must be able to read and write and have a training certificate, and must have completed a minimum of 80 hours of training conducted by a PSRA-approved trainer.
“So when they come here, we assess them on the type of training they have received. We ask them questions about what they have done. We ask them to do some reading and they complete a form and that is the process we take them through,” she says.
“So having the PSRA here [in Western Jamaica] is just to show that it is important for everybody because you want to know you have persons who are licensed, have the skill and are able to look after your interests,” Mrs. Webber-McLaughlin adds.
The regional office is looking to boost its staff complement and expects to be fully equipped to meet the demand of clients by June.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Hon. Matthew Samuda, during a tour of the office on May 6, pledged to offer all the necessary support and resources needed.
“Opening and increasing our footprint in the west has certainly increased our ability to regulate and monitor the space in western Jamaica. So with that, we are here to ensure that the office is running well and the team knows that we hold them near and dear, and if they have any needs, we are able to fulfil them,” Minister Samuda said.