Victims reveal nightmare scenario of intimidation and violence as ‘security’ firms threaten reign of terror on sites.

Rogue security firms are targeting construction companies in north-west England in a campaign of intimidation and violence, a Building investigation has revealed.

Evidence has been uncovered of extortion, threats and violence against contractors caught up in turf wars between security firms in Liverpool and Manchester. Several high-profile companies, including Bellway Homes, have been targeted.

Construction firms in the region say the problems are reminiscent of violent disputes between security companies in Scotland. Four members of one firm, West Coast Security Group, were jailed in February for offences that included assault, arson and possession of weapons.

Richard Edgington, Bellway Homes West Lancashire’s managing director, said: “There are a large number of unscrupulous security firms that run more of a protection racket than a security operation. They extort money from housebuilders and contractors.”

The firms are understood to break into sites at night and install their signs, before demanding protection money to prevent the site being wrecked. Some will then provide routine security services, but others simply charge for a sign to ward off attacks from rival gangs.

Edgington said: “The firms all have their own patches. They will turn up and put their signs all over your site. It happened to us. We had phone calls as well, even though we made it clear we had legitimate contractors on board.”

A director of one high-profile firm in the region, who did not want to be named, said rogue security guards had attacked his sites and followed his employees home after being turned away from a site. He said: “The rackets are extremely widespread. The firms introduce themselves and say they will be providing your services from now on. You don’t have much choice when that happens.”

A spokesperson for the Security Industry Authority, the body set up by the government to regulate the security sector, said he was not aware of specific problems on construction sites, but said that a licensing system, due to come into force next March, was designed to eliminate the criminal element from the security sector.