All but 15 Student Constables have been practicing security guard duties without mandatory licences, the Journal has learned.
The error was discovered after Chief Constable Jonathan Morris-Pocock was dismissed from his position before Reading Week for unrelated reasons.
AMS Vice-President (Operations) Leslie Yun said she and AMS Hospitality and Safety Director Ellen Allwright found unsent applications in a locked cabinet in the Student Constable office on Friday, Feb. 19.
“We basically discovered a bunch of forms that we thought had been filed,” Yun said. “It was an individual who was responsible for seeing through the application process and the licensing, and it was a failure on their part to see that through. This individual is no longer employed with the AMS.”
Security guard duties such as checking ID, denying patrons drinks and removing people from the bar require a licence.
Yun said she and Allwright checked with Morris-Pocock multiple times throughout the year and were told the forms were being taken care of.
“Was there a collective responsibility on our part to follow through on that, as supervisors? Yes,” Yun said. “When we were being told ‘It’s being taken care of, I’m handling it’ by an individual then … I think that’s the best you can do. ‘Oh, you’re taking care of it? Good.’
“The follow-through wasn’t as diligent as it should have been.”
Morris-Pocock declined to comment to the Journal.
Student Constables fall under the Private Security and Investigative Services Act, which came into force in 2005 and has been gradually phased in since then. Licensing requirements were introduced prior to the 2008-09 year.
That year, Yun said, licence applications were filled out, sent to the government by June and returned by August in time for Orientation Week.
Student Constables hire multiple times throughout the year, Yun said, which adds to the complications. There are about 80 Student Constables on staff.
The penalty for a business entity that fails to comply with regulations is a fine of up to $250,000. An individual that fails to comply faces a $25,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
The AMS’s security guard licences are registered under Campus Security with the provincial government.
When Yun and Allwright discovered the unsent applications, they convened a meeting right after Reading Week and sent the applications in. They are being processed, which Yun said could take four to six weeks.
In the meantime, Yun said, the 15 licensed student constables will be performing bouncer duties.
“Our student constables who are not yet licensed … are responsible for other duties that Student Constables take on, such as bar back at Alfies.”
Allwright said the AMS is hiring G4S Security, a private security firm, for special events. She said there’s at least one such event per day for the rest of March.
“What we’re doing is ensuring we can have a mix of constables and G4S security members there so that they are working under our philosophies as constables—
hands-off policies. They will be employed by the AMS, therefore they will have to follow our expectations as their employer.”
Allwright said the unlicensed Student Constables are still working, but in a reduced capacity.
“Our licensed constables are literally working around the clock right now,” she said. “Most of them are working five shifts a week.”
Yun said she isn’t sure how much the private guards will cost. The guards each make about $23 per hour. Student Constables make $9.50 per hour.
Yun said she thought because the licences were being processed, the Student Constables would be allowed to perform bouncer duties.
“At the very least, we were under the impression that these StuCons were in the process of being licensed,” she said. “The implementation of the act has been transitional and has been in phases. I think there was an understanding that there would be a degree of leniency.”
The next step in the act is that starting on April 15, a 40-hour, one-week training session will be required for all security guard licence applicants. This will change the way Student Constables are trained for the 2010-11 year and add an estimated $40,000 of expenses, Yun said.
Campus Security Off-Campus Response Co-ordinator David Wright is the Student Constables’ licence guarantor. That means he signs off on the licence applications, which include the applicants’ photos and birth certificates, when they come across his desk.
He said he’s not closely involved with the Student Constables’ licensing situation.
“As the licence applications come to me, I sign off on them,” he said. “If people are operating without applications and without licenses then I would never have been aware of that. I’m really only involved with the applications that I see.”
Wright said it’s illegal to conduct security guard duties without a licence.
“You’re not to be conducting the business of a security guard without a security guard licence.”
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