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Malacca example prompts call for regulation of maritime security services

Malacca example prompts call for regulation of maritime security services

London: A leading global maritime security services provider has called on leading maritime regulatory bodies to check the spread of unlicensed so-called 'security experts', citing the Malacca Straits as an example where some private companies had tried to take advantage of the current absence of regulation.

Speaking in a debate on piracy on BBC radio in the UK, Securewest International vp Paul Singer criticised the current situation where shipowners who required extra security on certain occasions 'have no yardstick or measurement to qualify a security company's level of performance.' Deploying armed men, in some cases with little or no formal maritime training, could often make matters worse and create dangerous situations, he added.

'A good example of the dangers that the current unregulated system throws up is in the Malacca Straits,' Singer said. 'Reports suggest some private military security companies appear to have claimed they were licensed to carry out armed escorts in (Malaysia's) territorial waters ... when in fact no Malaysian authority or agency had given such approval.'

'What we are looking for is best practice,' he continued, and for 'a body like the IMO (to) create a register of approved maritime security service providers which governmental, shipping and port authorities can rely upon to deal with situations involving piracy and the provision of (security) services at sea.'

Also taking part in the broadcast debate were Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, chair of the UK government's Transport Committee, and Capt Pottengal Mukundan of the International Maritime Bureau.

Based in London, Securewest has 18 years' experience of providing private maritime security services and has built up a network of offices around the world including five in Asia. It relies heavily on use of Nepalese security personnel who formerly served in the famous Gurkhas Brigade in the UK army - but is keen to distance itself from what it sees as basically private militia trying to muscle into an unregulated marketplace.  [12/09/06]