Big shift for private security in South Africa


Data released by the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) shows that the country’s private security sector now dwarfs the official South African Police Service (SAPS) and in some cases performs official policing functions, even when not authorized to do so.

“Increased demand for private security and resource constraints within SAPS are causing private security providers to enter functional areas of policing, which are normally exclusively the domain of SAPS,” the regulator said in its statement. recent annual performance plan.

He noted that there have been several instances where the private security industry has overstepped its mandate and exercised powers it does not officially have. This includes violating the rights of customers, as well as the general public.

PSIRA directly pointed to the civil unrest experienced in July 2021 which put the actions of the private security industry under the microscope. “The private security industry, in general, has played an important role in strengthening SAPS’s hand in managing unrest to protect lives and property. But there were also challenges in that the security industry private security was insufficiently resourced and trained to respond to the situation.

“The environment has also highlighted some gaps in intelligence-driven collaboration between the private security industry and other government law enforcement agencies. It is clear that continued cooperation between a legitimate and compliant private security industry and the SAPS will go a long way to ensuring that the interests of the state and the public are protected, and this partnership needs to be strengthened.

“Improved training and professionalization of the industry is essential to ensure that the industry can become and remain a valuable partner to SAPS in the fight against crime,” the regulator said.

Data from PSIRA shows that the number of actively employed security officers has increased by 43% since 2010, while the number of security companies has increased by 44%.

The total number of registered active security guards at the end of 2021 stood at 557,277. Gauteng has the highest number of security guards (37%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (18%) and Western Cape (12%).

“In 2007, almost 50% of active security companies and security guards were operational/deployed in Gauteng, but as highlighted this ratio has changed and is expected to continue to change in the future.

“The contract protection sector makes up the largest part of the industry, but there is also growth in other areas, such as the electronic security, goods in transit and anti-corruption sectors. poaching,” PSIRA said.

The local private security industry also continues to follow international trends in its development, especially in the use of electronic security to improve service delivery to customers, the regulator said. “This will have an impact on employment and will require new skills from employee safety officers to remain relevant in the 4IR.”

The private security industry must also contend with concerted efforts by organized labor to reverse the practice of outsourcing security services to clients. This is more prominent in government and public sector agencies and/or entities, he said.

“Lately, several universities have started to outsource their security services. This is going to impact security service providers and sector transformation as many of the security service providers that provide services to the government and its agencies and/or entities are owned by previously disadvantaged people (IDPs) and/or are small. companies.

“In addition, an increased internal security sector will also impact the authority, as revenue generated from paying annual fees will decrease and additional resources will be required to regulate the growing internal security sector.”

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