Private security groups move into frontline policing

Last week I wrote about The Mall in Norwich, which had given its security guards police powers to fine and detain trouble-makers despite the guards having only minimal training.

FivePolicemen Now, the Financial Times is reporting that G4S - a FTSE 100 security group - has begun to supply full teams of investigators on complex criminal cases.

As they report:

John Shaw, who recently took charge of the G4S policing business, said: “We have a team of 30 of our guys in one force on a major investigation right now, practically doing all of the roles except that of the senior investigating officer.”

Mr Shaw conceded the push by the private sector into areas once deemed off-limits would be resisted by some officers and needed to be done in collaboration with forces. But he argued the squeeze on law enforcement budgets meant all police roles were “up for grabs” except those requiring powers of arrest.

This is a genuinely worrying development. The police are not perfect, but they are accountable and bodies such as the IPCC and interventions from the Home Office are generally enough to make sure that when it comes to bad policing, the culprits are identified, punished and the victims compensated.

Private security firms would not have these same checks and balances. We cannot FOI them; we cannot hold them to account for having been trained or employed at the taxpayers' expense; and it is only a matter of time before a private security officer does something wrong and is quietly released out the back door.

It doesn't matter how 'squeezed' budgets are – police powers should only be held by the police.

By Dylan Sharpe 

Posted by on Dec 15, 2009 in Home | 2 Comments


  1. Old Holborn
    15th December 2009

    A Police Officer swears allegiance to the Crown and in return he is granted power FROM the Crown.
    The security guard at Asda only swears at the customers

  2. richard
    15th December 2009

    that’s a good point. if there is no oath to uphold common law, there is consequently no reason for any man or woman to supply them with any details, to respect their authoritah, or to refrain from telling them to fuck off. surely they have no powers of arrest other than the power anyone has, ie to make a citizens’ arrest?


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