Private Security in South Africa

Several news articles published this past week interviewed managers of and security officers themselves and quoted the very reputable Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in saying that the SA Police Service is unable to address the safety and security needs of its citizens. It is private security companies that have stepped into that gap, trying to breach it. As with education, those families that can afford to, pay for both private education and private security; two things that, in most other countries, are provided by the State.

The Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority or ‘PSIRA’ is the government regulator that oversees the registration of SA’s almost 2.5 million security officers. That number is further broken down into 1.7-odd million male and 800 00-odd female private security officers, with almost one million of them based and deployed in Gauteng.

NSA Global has, and always will, support the regulation of the private security industry. That presupposes that PSIRA does so competently and roots out ‘fly-by-night’ chance-takers looking to make a quick buck without complying with industry regulations. The security space is no place for such operators. People’s lives are at stake: both security officers themselves, as well as the clients whose assets they are deployed to protect. Sound management within a regulated legal framework is the only way to go.

 Back in the 80s and 90s it was the SA Police who responded to incidents of housebreaking, hoping to arrest criminals in the act. That function is now largely the domain of armed response companies, whose tactical teams do the responding whenever a residential alarm is triggered or a client presses a ‘panic button’. A heavy toll is placed upon security officers deployed to protect residential neighbourhoods. Criminals literally hide behind masks, masks mandated by COVID-19 regulations, evading the cameras monitoring neighbourhood access. This places added emphasis on the training of and effective operating procedures followed by those security officers. As long as Covid-19 continues to bite and desperation levels of those unable to put food on the table (including criminals) continue to rise, SA’s long-suffering consumers will continue to fork out hard-earned cash to sleep easy at night. How sustainable is that? Is it possible to rest easy? Only time and your neighbourhood security company can tell.

Recommended: ‘War of Generals’ in SAPS will hinder crime-fighting, says parly’s committee on police

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