Private security firm brands people criminals

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The Independent Online
A private security company has plastered posters around a city naming alleged "criminals" and accusing the men and women of a range of offences including murder and drug dealing. The police say the move by SAS Patrol Group is irresponsible, and fear it could lead to vigilante attacks. The posters include addresses and photographs of the accused people. At least one man is considering suing the private security firm.

The posters have gone up in an exclusive residential area in the west of Bristol under the headline "WARNING". They feature people that the security firm claims are burglars, car thieves or drug dealers. One lists the names and addresses of thirteen men, another lists nine men and a woman. They carry details of the alleged crimes and hours of operation. One man is described as a killer.

One of the named men plans to take legal action against the firm. He strongly denied the claim that he is "a major receiver of stolen goods, the number one criminal in Sea Mills and violent". He said: "I will be seeing my solicitor about this. The worst thing I have ever done was steal a moped when I was 15."

Andrew Burke, who founded SAS Patrol Group, said: "I stand by everything that is on the posters. Let them sue me, the more the merrier. Everything on the posters is true anyway. I hope they've got van loads of money as I've got special libel insurance covering me for pounds 10 million. I hope to make them all bankrupt."

Mr Burke said the information had come from his own security men and police officers who work in the area. An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: "We would not support this sort of action. We have found in the past that this sort of information is based on supposition and rumour."

The incident is the latest example of vigil anti action by private guards. The Home Office is currently considering whether to introducing a licensing system for private security firms, which currently go unchecked.