With reported increases in the number of violent attacks towards security guards, one question is raised often: what are security guards allowed to carry to protect themselves? But what are the laws surrounding security guards and guns or other weapons? We have the answers for you. Keep reading to find out more.
Do Security Guards Carry Weapons?
In the U.K there are very strict laws around the ability to carry weapons, and security guards are not exempt from this. Security guards and bodyguards are not allowed to carry weapons. The law states that security guards cannot carry many of the weapons that guards in other countries can use, such as batons, pepper spray or tasers. However, security guards are permitted to carry and use handcuffs to detain anyone who has committed a crime before the police arrive on the scene. Additionally, security guards are trained to reduce the likelihood of violence and to prevent potential injury. Interestingly, handcuffs are not just allowed for security guards – any citizen in the country can actually use them.
Are Security Guards Allowed to Carry Guns?
As you can imagine, if the laws are strict on all other weapons, they are also tough on guns. Within the U.K., no members of the public are permitted to carry a firearm if it is going to be used for close protection. Firearms are also only allowed with an appropriate licence for activities such as hunting. Even if security guards are licenced by the SIA or are specially trained bodyguards, they still have to work within these laws.
These gun control laws have been in place since 1997, when the private possession of guns and weapons classified as firearms were banned in the Firearms Act. The reason that this Act was enacted was due to the mass shooting at Dunblane Primary school in Scotland, which led to the deaths of many children. After this tragedy, gun laws in the U.K. became some of the strictest in the world. Even most police officers within the U.K. are unarmed when on duty, with the exception of Northern Ireland due to the threat of sectarian violence. There are armed police units that can respond to incidents and can be placed in areas with higher risks of terrorism, such as airports and mass events. Check out our article on ‘are security officers considered law enforcers?‘ to find out more about the difference between guards and law police officers!
Security guards are permitted to use reasonable force, in line with the 1967 criminal law act, which states ‘use as much force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime
Should Security Guards Be Allowed to Carry Guns?
To stay within UK laws and regulations, guards shouldn’t be allowed to carry guns or weapons. The law would have to change to allow this, and it doesn’t look like that is going to happen any time soon, probably for good reason. While gun control laws are stringent in the U.K., it is essential to note that gun crime in the country is also one of the lowest in the world.
The primary role of security guards and bodyguards is to keep people and businesses safe, and there are many ways to do this without carrying a gun. Security guards are trained in the use of force but will try and deescalate situations before it is necessary. Security guards are highly observant and can detect suspicious behaviour quickly, allowing them to react. The use of force is seen as a last resort, as a court must believe the force to be justified.
As the use of guns is so rare within the U.K., there is little support for security guards to be armed with guns as many people believe that this is excessive.
Should Security Guards Be Allowed to Be Armed?
There are other alternatives to guns when it comes to armed security guards, however. While weapons such as pepper spray or tasers are currently prohibited, there is increased support for some kind of protection for security guards after increased violent assaults towards them while at work.
Security guards are permitted to use reasonable force, in line with the 1967 criminal law act, which states ‘use as much force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or of persons unlawfully at large’. With the increased amount of violent attacks towards security guards, there is an argument that they should carry some kind of defensive equipment. There are many online petitions asking the government to reassess this issue.
In the meantime, there are other ways that security guards can protect themselves, with the use of protective vests and body armour to minimise the extent of their injuries should they be subjected to a violent attack.
What Should Be Carried by a Security Guard?
A security guard should carry certain items for safety, such as:
- A telephone, in order to call for help or the emergency services if there is an issue on-site.
- A torch. So guards can see at all times, a flashlight (preferably a hands-free light) should be worn or carried.
- A GPS/location tracker system. Guards often carry a location tracking device, not only to be tracked for safety reasons but also so that they can be monitored to see if tasks and checkpoints are being followed.
- ID, so that the guard can be easily identified on site as having permission to be there.
- High vis and other safety equipment. Depending on the site the guard is working at, some safety equipment such as hard hats, high vis clothing and steel toe-capped shoes are a requirement in order to keep safe. Find out more about what security guards wear in our do security guards wear body armour article
Can Private Security Carry Guns Uk?
No, private security, just like all other security officers, cannot carry guns or be armed in the UK. Laws and restrictions restrict security personnel from carrying such weapons as it is against the law. The same goes for can bodyguards carry guns in the UK. It is against the law for them to carry guns or weapons such as knives etc. To read about the difference between security guards and bodyguards, read through the article in the link!
So, What are Security Guards Allowed to Carry?
Security guards are allowed to carry personal protective equipment such as flashlights, radios and GPS trackers. Security Guards are not allowed to carry weapons such as guns and knives as this breaks the law within the UK. Security guards are trained to protect both businesses and people and have many techniques that they can apply to do so. While security guards are not allowed to carry any kind of weapon in the U.K., they can use handcuffs to help detain offenders. Additionally, they are trained in the use of reasonable force if necessary. Head over to our security guards article page to find more content and news on the security guard industry!
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