n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The relationship between the South African Police Service and the private security industry : any role for outsourcing in the prevention of crime?

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The aim of this article is to outline the relationship between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the private security industry and the role which both play in the prevention of crime. The role of the private security industry, however, is and should be one which can be complementary to that of the public police and not a replacement or substitution of the latter. The continued infiltration of private security into public policing roles has led the SAPS to change and outsource some of its operational functions. As a result the SAPS has allocated, or rather outsourced, certain functions such as the guarding duties at various police stations, to private security companies. There has also been other replacement of policing functions, often more by default than design, such as armed response to burglar alarms, or the patrolling of secured or gated neighbourhoods (i.e. as a visible policing deterrent etcetera).

The public police are granted specific powers that are - theoretically - used within the context of their accountability to the public. However, in South Africa the private security industry does not have powers beyond those of ordinary citizens and those powers delegated under private property legislation to them by the owners of the private or public/private property, i.e. they are only accountable to the client they are securing or guarding.
This article also examines the attempts by the SAPS (with the Department of Safety and Security as the lead or control department) to better regulate the South African private security industry as a whole by means of revising and tightening up the legislation dealing with the industry. The article furthermore discusses aspects of regulating the industry, inter alia, including some of the policing functions that have been outsourced to them, and looks at ways to optimise such partnership policing and formalise its role in crime prevention.

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