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The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) is warning members of the public and businesses to be on their guard when using the services of unlicensed locksmiths. The MLA says that unlicensed locksmiths operate in an entirely unregulated manner and may include those with criminal records ranging from petty crime, through to burglary, aggravated assault and murder. The MLA is aware of at least one case where a convicted murderer approached it to become a licensed locksmith.

The warning comes following the Governments ruling which comes into force July 2009) that the Master Locksmiths Association is now entitled to carry out standard Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks into the backgrounds of its members and would be locksmiths applying for MLA training or licences. The ruling issued by the Ministry of Justice comes after a period of intense lobbying carried out by the Master Locksmiths Association who were concerned over the wide gaps in security that existed because it was previously unable to carry out CRB checks.
Dr Steffan George, Development Director at the MLA said, “Prior to this ruling it was illegal to perform standard CRB checks on locksmiths. There were no effective controls and unlicensed, potentially criminal locksmiths could find themselves changing the locks on airports, businesses, schools and peoples homes without any safety net.”
“This potential security threat still exists and we are urging businesses and members of the public to make sure they only use Master Locksmiths Association Licensed locksmiths for all their locksmithing needs.”
“People often don’t realise that a locksmith is trained to overcome all forms of physical security and that if he or she installs your locks or cuts your keys in the first place then they will have the knowledge to gain access to your property, and the ability to make copies of keys. They effectively have your front door keys and could literally walk into your home or business anytime they choose, without your knowledge of them ever having been there.”
The MLA is also urging any organisation responsible for young or vulnerable people to review it's security. Said Dr George, “If you’ve had your locks fitted by a locksmith before this ruling, it makes sense to check that the locksmith you used is still currently a MLA Licensed locksmith. If not, we would encourage you to satisfy yourself as to the integrity of your security or to change your locks using a MLA licensed locksmith.”
The MLA currently carries out regular inspections on its licensed members. These inspections include checks on the quality and performance of work done, the presence of audit trails, advice given as well as spot checks on actual installations. The CRB checks will add a vital layer of additional security to the consumer using an MLA Licensed Locksmith.
The MLA’s request that it be added to the exceptions order for the Rehabilitation of Offenders act, thereby allowing it to carry out standard CRB checks was supported by Maria Eagle, the Minister of State, Government Equalities Office, who said at a recent sitting in the House of Commons (30th June 2009), “Before giving somebody access to house keys or, even more crucially, the keys to a hospital or an old peoples home, it is not unreasonable to expect that person to have been checked and assessed as being trustworthy and honest.”
The campaign was also supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) as well as various MPs.

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