Security firms' ties to crime revealed by police.
KATE FOSTER HOME AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
ONE of Scotland’s most senior police officers has named and shamed the ‘rogue’ private security firms he says have links to criminal gangs, and demanded new laws that could put them out of business.
Tom Buchan, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, has identified a trio of security businesses he claims may have ties with underworld figures involved in drug dealing, extortion and money laundering.
Buchan, chief superintendent of Strathclyde Police, is urging the Scottish Executive to introduce a tough system of regulation for the £180m-a-year private security industry in Scotland to keep up with laws being introduced south of the Border.
Last night, Buchan took the extraordinary and unprecedented step of naming three west of Scotland based firms he said had "improper" links to "big-time criminals".
They are Frontline Security, in Stepps, Glasgow; Osiris, in Hillington, Glasgow; and M&M, in Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow. The firms operate manned patrols of building sites for major businesses and public authorities.
Buchan told Scotland on Sunday: "There are clearly a number of big-time criminals who own or are associated with these companies. That is wholly improper. It is an irony that they are working in the private security industry and that will not sit comfortably with the public.
"These include firms like Frontline Security, Osiris and M&M, who have links with some of Scotland’s big criminal families."
He added: "The private security industry is not a real money-maker. Some firms are undercutting other businesses and going in at half price.
"The suspicion is that they are a front for money-laundering. You can find their signs on construction sites almost anywhere in Glasgow and other parts of Central Scotland. This needs to be regulated and it needs to be policed. There are gangsters involved in this industry fighting turf wars and they have been doing so for some time.
"There have been a number of arrests and prosecutions but clearly what we are talking about is an unregulated industry and as long as it remains unregulated it will be wide open."
Gangster Paul Ferris, one of the most notorious figures in Scotland’s underworld, is a "consultant" for Frontline Security, which was set up last year after Ferris was released from a jail sentence for gun-running.
Ferris, who said in a recent television interview he was "Persil white", has been accused in the past of running security firms which crashed owing unpaid taxes before reopening under similar names, a scam known as ‘phoenixing’.
Frontline Security was hired earlier this year to guard a building site next to the Old Course in St Andrew’s, Fife.
Osiris Security Ltd is owned by Marie Johnston, wife of an exiled former policeman Paul Johnston, who has served time for fraud, and fled to Spain in 2002 after police issued a warrant for his arrest.
Osiris is named after the Egyptian god of the underworld. The Johnstons are alleged to have had close links to gangster Stewart ‘Specky’ Boyd, who died in a car crash in Spain last year.
Osiris was recently criticised by a Catholic priest who said they demanded £1,000 to guard his chapel during renovation work. Father Chambers, of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Dennistoun, Glasgow, told his parishioners of the demand during Mass.
Paul McGovern and George ‘Geo’ Madden have been named as co-owners of Lanarkshire-based M&M Security Scotland Ltd. Part of the McGovern crime family, Paul McGovern has served time for murder. Last year M&M were given a contract to protect a new NHS addictions unit at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow.
Many police forces have introduced units to tackle vandalism, fire-raising and violence between security firms. Last year several building sites were burned down in Glasgow in turf wars.
Licencing will begin in England and Wales next year under the Private Security Industry Act. It forces security guards to declare all criminal convictions even if they are spent, which would prevent firms hiring thugs. All convictions from assault to housebreaking, drug dealing and murder would have to be disclosed on application forms.
The companies would have to comply with training standards and safety procedures. Any firms found to be employing convicted criminals who hide their past would be prosecuted and could even lose their licence.
The Scottish Executive has said it will introduce similar legislation but there is no fixed date and it could be several years away.
Eric Alexander, Scottish chairman of the British Security Industry Association, said he was concerned about the delay in regulating firms north of the Border.
He said: "By January, it will be an offence in England and Wales for anyone working in the security industry not to have a licence.
"The Scottish Executive has agreed to follow that model but it is going to take a lot longer. We would like that to be brought forward. People must have faith in the security industry.
"The vast majority of businesses are legitimate and very much in favour of licencing and regulation. It’s a way of guaranteeing quality and value for money and making sure staff are subject to criminal record checks.
"Some of the rogues will not have the same overheads as legitimate firms for recruitment and screening of staff."
He added: "There are around 20 legitimate private security firms in Scotland and around five which are rogues. The good quality firms give a good service to their clients. It is a problem when someone erodes the image of the profession."
Central Scotland Lib Dem MSP Donald Gorrie, who has campaigned against criminal elements being hired in the security industry, said last night that he would raise the matter in parliament.
"It is entirely unacceptable that we should have regulation in England and Wales and not in Scotland," he said.
Frontline recently claimed Ferris left the firm in June and insist that they are legitimate. Last night a spokesman refused to comment on Buchan’s allegations.
No one at Osiris or M&M was available for comment.
ferrisconspiracy VIEW: So.......lets see what Frontline and Mr Ferris have been up to then since this article was published:Sun 24 Oct 2004
NO: "drug dealing, extortion and money laundering".
NO: "turf wars"
NO: " arrests and prosecutions"
NO: "security firms which crashed owing unpaid taxes before reopening under similar names, a scam known as ‘phoenixing’".
NO: "fire-raising and violence"
NO: " convictions"
NO: for either Mr Ferris or Frontline for that matter!
Sun 24 Oct 2004 to Wed 18 Oct 2006 Mr Ferris has wrote two books and has NEVER BEEN ARRESTED OR INTERVIEWED BY THE POLICE.
Frontline Security has paid ALL debts to the VAMP MAN and owes not a single penny to anyone.....nor has it been ‘phoenixing’
Paul Ferris would no doubt like to thank the following: Tom Buchan, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents... and we urge him to check the intelligence of his intelligence....as for PAUL FERRIS? he is still "Persil white"
Daily Record - January 19 2005
Carlyle to play crime boss in blockbuster
Hollywood star Bobby Carlyle met crime boss Paul Ferris for lunch yesterday to plan their blockbuster movie.
The actor, who played psycho Begbie in Trainspotting, dined with the gun-runner at exclusive Glasgow hotel, One Devonshire Gardens.
And Carlyle revealed that his wife Anastasia insisted he was the right man to play the gangster after reading the book about his life, The Ferris Conspiracy.
Ferris, who rose to notoriety as a ruthless enforcer for Godfather Arthur Thompson, said afterwards: "We found we had quite a lot of common ground between his upbringing and mine.
"He said if they're ever going to make a movie, then he's the ideal guy to make it. He said it was right up his street."
The £12million film with the working title Conspiracy will be the most expensive film ever shot in Scotland.
Carlyle, 43, and Ferris enjoyed a long lunch in Room - the posh restaurant in the West End Hotel favoured by celebrities.
The pair sat in a small, secluded corner booth in a private room at the back of the low-lit restaurant.
Ferris dined on haggis, neeps and tatties while Carlyle plumped for chicken nuggets and chips.
The crime boss said: "He asked me if it would glamorise violence but that's not the case. It's about keeping it real.
"It's about bullying I suffered as a youngster and corruption within Strathclyde Police and the things that influenced my choices in life.
"I answered many questions he had before he could ask them. The time just flew by."
Ferris was also insisting that he was not profiting from crime through the film, but quipped: "I have to thank Strathclyde Police because if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be in this position today."
He added "I know there are sceptics but I've paid my debt to society and have not even had a parking ticket since I was released from jail. There has been rehabilitation."
Arriving for lunch dressed in a flimsy white shirt, Carlyle braved the freezing weather to dart from his black four-wheel drive jeep up the restaurant steps.
Carlyle said: "I'm only here to talk about a possible film deal. There's nothing definite - I'm just talking about a possible film."
But while the duo chatted over lunch, the boss of London-based Box Office Films was sorting out a deal with Carlyle's agent at another table.
The meeting is understood to have been arranged by Paul Kerr, brother of Simple Minds star Jim.
Box Office Films chief executive Craig Blake-Jones said: "We had the discussion with Bobby and he wants to do it. But we haven't signed a contract."
The movie will be filmed in and around Glasgow and film-makers hope Scots with no acting background will get involved.
Reg McKay, who co-wrote The Ferris Conspiracy, will help with the script.
Filming is expected to start in the autumn, with a release early next year.