Private Security replacing Police
At the end of last year the Home Office announced the largest increase in police funding since 2010, with an increase of £970m planned for 2019-2020. The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid said there will be “more money for local police forces, counter-terrorism and tackling serious and organised crime”, adding that “it will enable the police to recruit more officers and be better placed to respond to the increasing complex crimes they face.”
But will this increase have an impact on the growing number of private security firms being contracted to operate as ‘private police’ in many towns and villages.
Recently in Weymouth a ‘residential security patrol service’ was launched, with vans patrolling the streets for customers who have registered and paid their monthly subscription. In a Derbyshire village the parish council has brought in a security company to provide night time patrols to watch out for low level crime and antisocial behaviour. In both cases the security patrols are really there to act as a deterrent when the police don’t have the resources to prioritise these areas.
It isn’t just villages relying on residential security patrols, more and more businesses are turning to private security to keep their sites secure. Private security guards are an essential part of the fight against crime and as Karen Bermingham from the SIA said of the security industry “we’re the eyes and ears on the ground and are spotting and reporting cases where, for instance, there is grooming, we’re kind of like an emergency service.”
As the number of police has decreased, the number of security guards are increasing; there are currently 386,657 SIA licence holders compared to 146,000 police officers in the UK.
In order to obtain an SIA licence, security operatives are required to undergo a training programme covering specialist security industry knowledge, cultural awareness, communication and conflict management skills. They are also vetted and criminal record checked. With the increased terror threat, security operatives are also being trained in terrorism awareness.
It would appear that, even with an increase in police funding, the private security sector has an active and important role to play in keeping people and property safe in the UK.