n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Private security and crime prevention : a factor analytic approach

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The evolution of private security over centuries reveals a meaningful relationship with crime prevention. From the beginning of times, through the Middle Ages up to modern times, private security honoured its role in and commitment to protecting life and property. Although it appears that the history of private security in South Africa has not been suffficiently recorded, this industry gained tremendous momentum during the past three to four decades.

Crime prevention in private security context gained renewed momentum in 1960 with Elizabeth Wood's Social Design Theory advocating the observance of a sense of community. Oscar Newman's Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), eventually gave rise to defensible space, which he defined as " ...a model which inhibits crime by creating a physical expression of a social fabric which defends itself" (Cf. Newman 1973). Newman is especially credited for linking environmental design and crime prevention in a symbiotic relationship. The Broken windows theory also explains why it is necessary to safeguard residential neighbourhoods against the physical deterioration and decay which results from deviant behaviour. It could, therefore, be anticipated that private security will play a more significant role in crime prevention because of an apparent lack of confidence in police control over crime.
Having followed the survey research method, two non-probability samples (public and private security) have been selected as data generating sources. Data analysis was subjected to factor analysis, using varimax rotational procedures. Two statistical scales were eclectically selected for each of the two samples to establish whether a relationship exists between private security and crime prevention.
Several factors relating to the four selected scales, with no significant overlapping between empirical relationships, emerged on both sides of the sampling spectrum. The data confirmed the positive role played by private security officers in crime prevention.

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