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The Private Security Industry

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    ‘It is clear that the private security industry has experienced substantial growth, particularly if one compares the size of the industry in 1950 with that in 1995. In 1950 there were a dozen or so companies involved in the provision of security services and products; now there are thousands, in what could be described as a multi-billion industry (George and Button : 30). ’ Policing is now being widely offered by institutions other than the state, most importantly by private companies on a commercial basis and by communities on a volunteer basis (Bayley and Shearing, 1996). According to South, Jones and Newburn, private security industry in Britain has grown from the post war years from a few specialised firms catering for the rich folk to a multi-billion pound industry (South, 1988; Jones and Newburn1998). Johnston echoes the fact that there has been a significant increase in private forms of policing over the years in South Africa and many countries including Western democracies and other societies in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa (Johnston, 1992).

    Stenning and Shearing share the view that the growth of private policing is as a result of changes in societal status, property ownership like massive shopping complexes, cinema halls, huge retail stores, big compounds style housing estates or gated communities (Shearing and Stenning, 1983). Canadian private security industry coupled with management technological advancement grew so tremendously during the post-war period as to be referred to as ‘a quiet revolution’ (Stenning and Shearing, 1980).

    The industry continues to grow even in the adverse economic times leading others to term it ‘recession resistant’ (Kakalik and Wildhorn, 1977). Reasons for the growth of the private security The UK police encompass 53 constabularies found in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their funding comes directly from the government, and their aim is to give good service delivery to the public as part of the governments’ policy and commitment.

    The Police Reform Act of 2003 created provisions for the contracting out of a wider range of police functions (ICJ notes, 2010:46). This gave way to privatization which encouraged sale of assets and contracting of services to private ownership (Atkisnon, 1990 and Butler 1991). According to Forst and Manning, significant patterns emerge from the history of public and private policing. The two authors reckon that sweeping changes in policing trends are revealed as a result of typical manifestations of broader societal movements.

    The reform era grew out of the larger reform era that transformed the corrupt political machines of the nineteenth century into institutions that were held more widely accountable (Forst and Manning, 1999). The communities movement of the 1980s in America was at play in encouraging excellent service delivery, empowerment crusade of the times and professionalism. The public police were determined not to be left behind in contributing to better societies. This culminated into police reforms that oversaw privatization of policing (Forst and Manning, 1999).

    George and Button identify the fact that fear of crime has contributed greatly to the growth of private security industry (George and Button, 2000). According to South, “security is now considered a commodity to be bought and sold in the marketplace, and the value of such a commodity reflects not only on material criteria but also on inner human dimension of personal fear and feelings” (South, 1988). Another factor that has significantly influenced growth in private security is terrorism (Cunningham, Strauchs and van Meter, 1990).

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