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Today two reports from the Security Research Initiative are published addressing key considerations for the security industry. Together they seek to understand and highlight the ways in which private security can help protect the public – in private and public space – and the ways in which this role may be enhanced. They call upon various stakeholders to consider how private security, as an under used and largely capable resource, can best be used, not least in times of austerity.
Towards ‘A Strategy for Change’ for the Security Sector
This report aims to provide a foundation for thinking about and ultimately developing a ‘Strategy for Change’ for the security sector. It seeks to provide a rationale for why private security is important and suggests ideas (for wider debate) about how its potential might be realised.
The document is based on three overarching aims:
- The Government must be encouraged to develop a strategy for harnessing the enormous contribution of the private security sector to preventing crime.
- The private security sector must commit to developing an ability to talk with a more united and coordinated voice.
- The private security sector must commit to highlighting the enormous benefits it generates including for the public good, and commit to ways of enhancing these. Much of what it currently does is unheralded and under acknowledged.
‘Police Views on Private Security’
This report discusses findings from responses provided by 1361 serving police officers in an on-line survey on attitudes towards the private security sector (private security suppliers and corporate security departments). This was to inform the strategy for better engaging private security (detailed above).
Overall it was evident that the police officers surveyed view the private security sector as useful in some of the aspects of the work that it does, even necessary in some cases. That said, there is a lack of appetite in the private security sector taking a greater role in supporting or working in partnership with the police, but especially where this would amount to private security undertaking ‘police’ tasks in public space. The perceived reputation of the private security sector is negative.
Key findings include:
- Close to 6 in 10 respondents believed private security plays a minor role in protecting the public
- Corporate security departments were seen as important in helping the police in their work by 62%, security officers much less so, 36%
- Well over 8 in 10 stated that business needed to be primarily responsible for protecting itself against fraud and cyber crime. Indeed, only a half of the sample believed that the police has a responsibility to investigate all frauds and all cyber crimes.
- More than half disagreed with the suggestion that collaborative working between the police and private security is essential given the current limitations of police funding
- Respondents were critical of businesses, with approaching 9 in 10 indicating that they need to be more committed to sharing information with the police
- A much smaller majority – but over a half – admitted that the police also need to improve here, in terms of being more committed to sharing information with businesses
- Police officers responding were not typically supportive of private security seconding officers, nor in conferring additional powers on private officers. Even the idea of businesses injecting money into the force to enable a response to certain crime types was not overwhelmingly viewed as positive
Professor Martin Gill who led the research noted:
The SRI members wanted to conduct a study to look at where the security sector should go, what the barriers to progress are and suggest ways in which it can develop. Hopefully the findings will be seen as a starting point. What is clear is that private security is an essential part of public protection but it is not strategically harnessed and its potential is under estimated and under played. It is not in anyone’s interest for that to continue.
The Security Research Initiative is sponsored by the security sector (buyers and suppliers), and involves an annual study. The reports are made available free of charge in order to provide a more informed information base about the workings of the security sector. (https://perpetuityresearch.com/security-research-initiative/)
Professor Martin Gill can be contacted on: M.firstname.lastname@example.org; and 0774 028 4286.
A copy of the report is downloadable from the website – www.perpetuityresearch.com