There is disagreement among scholars in establishing a universally acceptable definition for the concept of private security. The digressions seem to center on the factors of job responsibilities, the persuasion of revenue and the customer, and the involvement of products. These will include production, allocation, and fitting of equipment and machinery. Nevertheless, there have been attempts to define private security.
The RAND Institute construed private security as “all types of private organizations and individuals providing all types of security-related services, including investigation, guard, patrol, lie detection, alarm, and armored transportation,” as given in the research of Kakalik and Wildhorn (1971). One linking function that can be seen is the thrust to prevention and detection of criminal activities. Hallcrest argues for an extended definition of the term, one that will include data, physical, and work-related tasks as a more exact comprehension of the responsibilities of those in the private security sector (Strom, Berzofsky, Shook-Sa, Barrick, Daye, Horstmann, Kinsey, 2010, p. 2-2).
The term “security” entails a balanced, predictable situation where an individual is at liberty to engage in activities to achieve its objectives. Moreover, the situation must be without any threat of harm, injury or interruption. In investigating the genesis and establishment of security, it must be assumed that the concept of security reflects the mores of society and its foundations.
In more contemporary times in the United States, the crude security measures implemented in medieval times-clearing brush as security measures to safeguard citizens against bandits-security personnel now clear the areas that are proximate to fences and buildings (Fischer, Halibozek, and Walters, 2012, p. 3).
There is no literature regarding the history of policing; the early literature of policing only points out that dealing with criminals and maintaining the peace was addressed by private parties. The citizenry were charged with the responsibility for providing for their own protection and defending the preservation of peaceful and safe communities. Though there have been numerous efforts to establish and operate security policies, modern law enforcement as it is practiced know was not seen until the 19th century in England.
Much of the security establishment in the United States, both in the public and private sector, was modeled after the English system. During the colonial era, colonists were always at risk from hostile Native Americans, foreign invaders, and even from other colonists. The only protection the colonists would rely upon was themselves, and in intermittent times, the militia. However, by the 17th century, colonists began the task of developing civilian law enforcement systems that were patterned after the English models. Examining the rise of private security in the 19th century is attributed to three primary factors. In the report of the National Advisory Committee on Criminal Justice, these are:
- Feeble protection practices implemented by the police;
- Rising instances of criminality compared to the extension of the rail network, and;
- Growing mechanization (Dempsey, 2010, p. 12).
A large expansion in the use of private security firms started in the time before and in the course of the Second World War. This was due to the fact that American companies became the primary provider of manufactured goods to France and Britain to augment the war effort at the time. When the United States entered the conflict in 1941, then United States President Franklin Roosevelt gave an Executive Order giving power to the Secretary of War to commission “military guards, patrols, and other appropriate measures to protect national defense-related industries from sabotage.”
Moreover, Federal procedures adopted by government entities, such as those contained in the Industrial Safety Manual of the US Department of Defense, were integrated into government concessions for private sector contractors providing goods and services to the government (Dempsey, 2010, p. 12).
Private security agencies have also been used in American theaters of war. In the records of the Department of Defense, by 2009, there were a little over 11,000 “private security contractors (PSCs) working in Iraq, where about 15 percent, or more than 1,600 personnel provide non-firearm bearing services. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the statistic does not factor in other contractors, either armed or unarmed, who equip security personnel, examined statistics and intelligence reports, and conducted interviews and interrogations.
The following year, the DOD stopped providing statistics on the number of armed personnel as compared to unarmed personnel. However, on a historical trend, the number of armed personnel compared to unarmed personnel was about 90 percent higher than the latter. However, the current regime in Afghanistan has actively called for the reduction in the number of PSCs in the country, dissolving some of the PSCs and allowing the permits of some of these units to expire (Schwartz, 2011, pp. 3-4).
The transformation of PSCs and private military groups and the initiatives to monitor these agencies display the difficult action of being able to effectively and quickly respond to the rapidly changing landscape of military as well as commercial practices. Regulators are wont to be engaged in lengthy arbitration proceedings; the target of the negotiations, and the scenario that the agency’s services were contracted in the first place, has been morphing at the same time. In this sense, the regulation of these PSCs that were actors in previous conflicts is bogged down with regulations that were adequate for the former conflict, but not for the new conflict that these negotiations were crafted now. It is important to regulate PSCs, but not to the point that will make them impotent for the new conflict where these are called upon to provide their expertise (Percy, 2012, pp. 941-942).
Dempsey, J (2010). Introduction to private security. Boston: Cengage Learning
Fischer, R., Halizobek, E., Walters, D (2012). Introduction of Security. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann
Percy, S (2012). Regulating the private security industry: a story of regulating the last war. International Review of the Red Cross Volume 94 number 887 pp. 941-960
Schwartz, M (2011). “The Department of Defense’s use of private security contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: background, analysis, and options for Congress.” Retrieved 7 November 2014 from <http://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R40835.pdf
Strom. K., Berzofsky, M., Shook-Sa, B., Barrick, K., Daye, C., Horstmann, n., Kinsey, S. (2010). “The private security agency: a review of the definitions, available data sources, and paths moving forward.” Retrieved 7 November 2014 from <https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/232781.pdf