Are Security Officers Considered Law Enforcers?

Written by Holly Savage

7th July 2021

A police officer and security guard are often thought of as being quite similar as they both have a vital role in protection. But are security officers considered as law enforcers? We’ll be discussing this and more, such as if guards have the same authority as the police and what is the difference between the two.

Is A Security Officer Similar To A Police Officer?

In some ways, security guards and police can be thought of as being similar as they both have a main duty of providing protection. However, they are quite different. Police officers work for law enforcement while security guards will work in the area of security.

The police are allowed to enforce the law when they are protecting someone such as arresting someone who is committing a crime; while security guards don’t have the power to enforce the law when they are protecting someone and instead they will have to follow the rules and guidelines that have been set by the government.

Is Security Considered Law Enforcement?

Although both job sectors may have similar duties and purposes of providing protection. The security sector won’t be considered to be part of the law enforcement job sector. This is because the law enforcement sector contains people who provide protection but also enforce the law such as the police officers. While the security industry isn’t allowed to enforce the law and will mainly contain people such as security workers.

are security guards considered law enforcers

Are Security Officers Considered Law Enforcers?

A common question that is asked by many people is “Are security officers considered law enforcers”. But the answer to this question is no, security guards won’t be considered aren’t law enforcers at all as they work for the security industry. A law enforcer would be someone who works in law enforcement such as the police or law enforcement officers. 

Similar to law enforcement security guards can act as an extra layer of protection for members of the public or businesses. And they will often protect them before law enforcement arrives. However, security guards have different powers and responsibilities to law enforcers.

Is Armed Security Considered Law Enforcement?

Armed security, like normal private security, is also not considered as part of law enforcement. Armed security officers like unarmed guards will have to follow the same guidelines and rules set by the government and won’t be allowed to enforce laws.

security guard and police difference

Do Security Guards Have The Same Authority As Police?

Although both the police and security workers provide protection they won’t have the same authority. Security guards are employed by businesses and often work in privately owned spaces such as warehouses, shopping centres, and offices. Guards will be hired by businesses to protect buildings, equipment, stock, and people.

Security guards are expected to follow guidelines and rules that are set by their employer; however, they are not allowed to go against the law in the UK. Law enforcement officers such as the police are employed by the government and will follow and enforce the rule of law for the whole country. 

What Powers Do Security Guards Have?

When it comes to the powers that they hold, security guards are not any more powerful than ordinary citizens. It is important to note that they are, however, specially trained to keep people safe, unlike the vast majority of the public.

Security guards are allowed to carry out a traditional citizen’s arrest if they suspect that someone is committing a crime – for example, if they catch someone stealing or vandalising a property. If security guards suspect that something has been stolen, they can ask you to stop within the premises and question you. If they perform a citizen’s arrest, they can hold you until the police come to investigate.

There is no specific length of time that they are allowed to detain you, however, the police should arrive on the scene promptly, question you, and take witness statements. If they believe a crime has been committed the police can then arrest and charge you.

If they have not completed a citizen’s arrest, however, they cannot force you to stay at a location or keep you locked up. However, security officers usually work for the owners of the business that they are working in, and therefore, they can ask you to leave the property or refuse to let you in in the first place.

police officer and security guard

What Is The Difference Between A Security Guard And A Police Officer?

One of the main differences between the police and security is that the police are law enforcement officers that are employed by the government and therefore have the full force of the law behind them. They work within the legal system and are held accountable by them. Security guards, however, represent the individuals or businesses that employ them and follow their instructions.

The police are there to protect the public and will respond to 999 calls and attend large events that may need extra supervision such as football matches and protests. To enter a private property, the police force would need to first gain permission. One way they might do this is through obtaining a warrant from a judge, which can be a lengthy process.

Security guards, on the other hand, are based within the properties that they are protecting, as they are employed by the business owners. Security officers ensure that rules and guidelines in these properties are followed and that the employees and the business itself are protected. Security officers can question any individuals within the property as it is privately owned and ask them to leave if necessary. If a crime is committed, security officers can perform a citizen’s arrest before contacting law enforcement.

Is A Security Officer Considered A First Responder?

Security officers are not traditionally considered to be first responders, with this title usually only being kept for emergency services such as police, firemen, and paramedics. They are generally not considered within planning and risk assessments for events as responders and are instead seen as an extra layer of security.

It is important to note however that many security companies train their officers in the basic skills that they need to help out in an emergency situation – such as giving them first aid training or emergency life support training. This can make all the difference when you consider that usually, the emergency services take between 10-15 minutes to respond to 999 calls.

In the meantime, security officers can work to try and control an emergency situation and offer emergency support to those who are injured. Security officers can then brief the emergency services on the situation when they arrive on the scene, making them a valuable asset to any event.

are security officers law enforcement

So, Are Security Officers Considered As Law Enforcement?

Overall, security officers aren’t considered to be law enforcement. Unlike the police, they aren’t allowed to enforce the law and instead, they have to follow it. For example, security guards can detain anyone who they believe is committing a crime however, they won’t have the authority to properly arrest them. 

If you would like to learn more about what security guards can do, why not head over to our blog? Where you can find articles about whether guards wear body armour and if they reduce crime.

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