On 14 September 2023, at Hastings Magistrates’ Court, an Eastbourne company director was prosecuted for supplying illegal security.
Zac Morgan and his business First Choice (Sussex) Security Ltd were prosecuted by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) for supplying unlicensed security. Howard Morrison was prosecuted for working as an unlicensed security operative.
Zac Morgan entered guilty pleas for the company and himself for the supply of unlicensed security. Zac Morgan was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,304.25 prosecution costs.
First Choice (Sussex) Security Ltd was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £1304.25 prosecution costs.
Howard Morrison was prosecuted and fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £2,742.45 prosecution costs for working illegally as a door supervisor and for making a false statement.
Howard Morrison was formerly licensed by the SIA but his licence was suspended on 15 September 2021, and it was revoked on 23 May 2022.
The prosecutions began when the SIA established that First Choice (Sussex) Security Ltd was supplying unlicensed security at Eastbourne Pier in August 2022.
SIA criminal investigators verified that First Choice (Sussex) Security Ltd was the supplier of security to Eastbourne Pier. Its director, Zac Morgan who was SIA licensed, had deployed two unlicensed security operatives to the tourist attraction.
Acting on information on 13 January 2023, SIA investigators carried out intelligence-led compliance checks in Eastbourne. They visited a pub that confirmed that First Choice (Sussex) Security Ltd was their security supplier.
The venue confirmed that a person who fitted the description of Howard Morrison had previously worked there. Later that night they revisited the pub and a man who was carrying out door supervisor duties was working there without displaying an SIA licence.
SIA investigators spoke to a man who was Howard Morrison and he admitted to working without a licence and to working under a pseudonym. SIA investigators checked the pub’s signing-in book and identified that Morrison had worked under a pseudonym at least 20 times. The investigators informed the pub that their security provision was unlicensed.
Howard Morrison was interviewed under caution by the SIA on 13 June 2023. He confirmed that he had his licence revoked yet he continued to work regardless.
Zac Morgan, director of First Choice (Sussex) Security Ltd, was interviewed under caution by SIA criminal investigators on 17 July 2023. Morgan stated that he hadn’t done additional checks on his staff and relied upon them to inform him of any changes. He admitted that he had been negligent in his role as a company director.
Another man Dimitri Aitken from Lewes, was employed by First Choice (Sussex) Security and he was also working illegally at another Eastbourne pub. He failed to appear at Hastings Magistrates’ Court but later handed himself in. Dimitri Aitken pleaded guilty on Tuesday 19 September 2023 at Brighton Magistrates’ Court to working as an unlicensed door supervisor. The court sentenced him to a £120 fine, ordered him to pay prosecution costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £48. Aitken now has a criminal record.
Jenny Hart, one of the SIA’s criminal investigations managers, said:
When a security company is engaged in illegal conduct it puts the private security industry and the SIA into disrepute. Morgan, as a director of a security business and a supplier of security has failed in his duties.
Howard Morrison was previously convicted and had his licence revoked by the SIA and yet he still worked illegally putting the patrons of Eastbourne’s night time economy at risk by his actions.
I pay tribute to our partners at Sussex Police and also Hastings and Brighton Magistrates’ Courts for their support with these prosecutions.
The Bench at Hastings Magistrates’ Court said at Zac Morgan’s prosecution:
We take these matters very seriously as the business was dealing with public safety. If people don’t have licences, they do not have a licence for a reason. Taken into account your early guilty plea and previous good character; use this sentence as a learning curve. You need to ensure that anyone you deploy has a valid licence and you need to check this. If this happens again then custody will be likely.