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Private And Public Security Essay

5214 words - 21 pages

Private security and public policing
Karen Swol


n recent years, both the number of police officers in Canada and the crime rate have been declining. However, the rates for many workplace or white-collar crimes, such as computer crimes, employee theft, and fraud, are increasing. Public police do not always have the resources to handle these “internal” crimes. In some cases, for example, a fraud of at least $100,000 must be committed for public police to give it priority (Gerden, 1998). With cutbacks to police budgets occurring just as the public’s demand for security seems to be growing, the use of private security has been increasing. Police officers differ considerably from private ...view middle of the document...

In 1996, policing costs totalled $5.9 billion or $195 per Canadian (Swol, 1997). Private security Private security differs from the public police in a number of ways. Private security personnel work for clients who pay for the protection of person and/or property. The interests of the client determine their duties. Private security personnel have the same powers of arrest, search and detention as an ordinary citizen (as stipulated in section 494 of the Criminal Code of Canada). The two main types of private security are security guards and private investigators. The most recognizable difference between the two groups is that security guards must wear uniforms, whereas private investigators must not. Security guards may be authorized to carry firearms under special circumstances (for example, armoured car personnel), while private investigators are not permitted to do so.

Roles and responsibilities
Police Legislation in each province stipulates the duties of a police officer. A typical example is the Police Services Act in Ontario, which outlines the duties as follows: n preserving the peace; n preventing crimes and other offences; n assisting victims of crime; n apprehending criminals; n laying charges, prosecuting and participating in prosecutions; n executing warrants; n performing the lawful duties assigned by the chief of police; and n completing the required training.

Adapted from an article in Juristat (Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 85-002-XPE) 18, no. 13 (November 1998). Karen Swol is with the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. She can be reached at (613) 951-5190 or

34 / Spring 1999 PERSPECTIVES

Statistics Canada - Catalogue no. 75-001-XPE

Private security and public policing

Data source and definitions
Every five years, the census collects data on every person in Canada based on place of residence. Two types of questionnaire are used: a short form and a long form. The long form goes to one in every five households in Canada, while the remaining households receive the short form. With the exception of salaries, the data are for the “employed labour force,” which includes “persons 15 years of age and over, excluding institutional residents, who, during the week (Sunday to Saturday) prior to Census Day: a) did any work at all for pay or in self-employment; or b) were absent from their job or business for the entire week because of vacation, illness, a labour dispute at their place of work or other reasons.” The data on salaries cover persons aged 15 years and older with employment income who worked full year full time in 1995. In this article private security personnel include private investigators and security guards as defined in Statistics Canada’s Standard Occupational Classification. Excluded are persons who work in the manufacturing of alarm systems or other security devices or equipment, as well as those who work for companies that monitor alarm systems. In the 1991 Standard...

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