What Are Security Guards Allowed To Carry?

Written by Holly Savage

26th April 2021

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’ll be discussing this and more, such as what can a security guard carry, can a security officer carry a baton, and whether security guards are allowed weapons.

What Are Security Guards Allowed To Carry

Do Security Guards Carry Weapons?

In the UK, there are very strict laws around the ability to carry weapons such as firearms, and security guards are not exempt from this. Security guards and bodyguards in the UK 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?

A common question asked is do security guards carry guns? But as you can imagine, if the laws are strict on all other weapons, they are also tough on guns. Within the UK, 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 UK became some of the strictest in the world. Even most police officers within the UK 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.

do security guards carry guns

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 UK, 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 de-escalate 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 UK, 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 from websites like change.org, that ask 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 can a security guard carry

Can Security Guards Carry A Baton?

Whether a security guard will be able to carry a baton or not will ultimately depend on the laws of the country in which the guard is operating. For example, American security guards will be able to carry batons during patrols in some states due to America’s law on firearms. However, in the UK security guards won’t be allowed to carry a baton due to the UK’s strict laws on carrying weapons.

Can A Security Guard Carry A Knife?

As knives can become a potential weapon, this means that UK security guards won’t be allowed to carry them. This is due to the UK’s strong laws against carrying any type of weapon.

do security guards carry handcuffs

Can SIA Security Carry Handcuffs?

Yes, security guards can carry handcuffs. And guards will be able to use handcuffs to detain anyone who they believe is committing a crime before the police arrive.

What Are Security Guards Allowed To Carry?

There are many different security equipment or items that guards should carry for safety. Some of these are:


  • 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.
what should security guards carry

Are Private Security Allowed To Carry Guns?

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 bodyguards as well. It is against the law for bodyguards to carry guns or weapons such as knives.

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 UK, they can use handcuffs to help detain offenders. Additionally, they are trained in the use of reasonable force if necessary.

If you would like to stay up to date with all the latest security guard news why not head over to our blog? Where you can find articles about whether security officers are considered to be law enforcers and if guards wear body armour.

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