Are Security Officers Considered Law Enforcers?
A question which is asked by many people is “are security officers considered law enforcers”. And the answer to this question is, no. Somebody who works for law enforcement could be the police or a law enforcement officer. And security officers are not police officers.
Security companies are considered an extra layer of protection for businesses and individuals and can protect them before law enforcement arrives on the scene. Security guards, however, have different powers and different responsibilities to law enforcers. But they are both are there for your protection.
Do Security Guards Have The Same Authority As Police?
Security Guards are employed by companies or individuals and therefore work in privately-owned spaces such as warehouses, shopping centers, and offices, and are there to ensure both the building, stock and equipment, and employee protection. Read our article, “Where Do Security Guards Work?” to find out more information about the different areas security guards work in.
Security guards follow guidelines and rules 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 follow and enforce the rule of law for the whole country. While security guards in the UK need to hold licences given out by a governing body, they do not have the same powers and scope as the UK police force.
What Powers Do Security Guard 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 are caught stealing something 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 for, 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.
Read our Security Guard Guide, to find out more powers that security guards have.
What’s The Difference Between Police and Security?
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, all be it within the law.
The police are there to protect the public, responding to 999 calls and attending large events that may need extra supervision such as football matches and protests. In order to enter a private property if they are not given permission, the police force would need to obtain a warrant for a judge which is 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.
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