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The SIA's position on licence holders who act as vigilantes Published Date: 27/10/2023

Vigilantism is law enforcement undertaken without legal authority by a self-appointed group of people. There are various examples of this type of activity, including actions by Online Child Abuse Activist Groups (OCAGs), sometimes referred to as ‘paedophile hunters. The SIA holds the same view as the police on people who engage in this activity: it is illegal, and the people involved are committing a crime. Unlike the police these groups do not offer any protection to victims, their evidence is often poor, and some do it as cover for extortion and blackmail.

SIA licence holders have a vital role in keeping the public safe, and as such must carry out their duties within the law and in accordance with the standards of behaviour set out in their training.

The SIA does not support or condone SIA licence holders engaging in vigilante activity. Holding an SIA licence does not give someone additional powers to detain or arrest someone. An SIA licence holder has the same legal powers as a member of the public. They are not the police.

If an SIA licence holder uses force to detain someone, this could amount to an assault and they may find themselves prosecuted, unless they can show that the use of force was lawful in the circumstances.

We will consider suspending and revoking a licence if the licence holder is charged and found guilty of a criminal offence.

In addition, we will consider suspending and revoking a licence if the licence holder’s actions go against the SIA’s ‘fit and proper’ standards and bring the private security industry into disrepute. This is even if the licence holder has not been charged and/or convicted of a criminal offence for those actions.