Security Companies - Increasing use of private security firms by communities

Security Companies. Police can now delegate powers to security firms to tackle anti-social behaviour and assist in maintaining community safety. To some extent they do this already, in that foot patrols and spot checks can be used to keep areas safe and prevent vandalism. But this role looks almost certain to expand.

Frinton-on-Sea may find itself the pattern for developments across the UK. The town was in the unenviable position of having no police station and relying upon one nearby. They it found out that this too, was due to close. The nearest police station was now eight miles away. True, Frinton does have a few PCSOs, but they have to travel around by bus or cycle.

Many of the residents decided to pay £100 a year to a private security firm which runs vehicle patrols at night, and provides an emergency phone line. The Guardian reported that the Essex police and crime commissioner are concerned about the development of a two-tier system, such as we see in other countries. With shrinking police budgets, we may indeed be moving towards a situation where those who can afford it, and want the peace of mind, will employ active security patrols. Those who don’t want it, or do but can’t afford it, will have to rely upon an increasingly remote police presence.

There are similar developments in the security industry, in which an elite tier of security firms have increasing accreditation for various activities, including working with community stakeholders. These firms will develop increasingly close partnerships with private and public sector providers. The fly-by-night, casual labour security firms are already unable to compete with the management control and quality assurance that are provided by the top tier, and the future for these “bottom feeders” is not looking particularly bright.

One of the key concerns of residents is anti-social behaviour. They sometimes hesitate to call the police, not knowing whether the nuisance activity is serious enough. In Frinton’s case of course, there are no police. Many communities may, like Frinton, find the idea of a dedicated security patrol an increasingly attractive proposition.