n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The private security industry : a comparison of recent Australian and South African priorities

Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The Private security industry is constantly adapting and expanding to fill new and emerging gaps. Many areas traditionally reserved for public security structures (Police, Military, etc.) are now serviced by the private security industry. In recent times, private security has become synonymous with excessive use of force and in many cases linked to thuggery and unprofessional behaviour. By assessing the industries in Australia (focused on Queensland) and South Africa which are vastly different but also very similar in many ways, an understanding of regulation and performance can be created. The benefits of comparison demonstrate differing models and regulatory structures as well as show how the two environments have led to the evolution of various specialisations and categorisations to meet specific needs and challenges. The industry in South Africa has progressed to become three times larger than the police and there is little doubt that the industry is filling significant gaps, resultant from the Police's inability to manage the extremely high levels of crime and violence. The high levels of crime and violence have meant that it is not uncommon for private security officers in South Africa to have to apply lethal force in their day to day duties. In Australia, the industry has not evolved to the same degree but ironically has a higher level of regulation and enforcement than South Africa. However, the Australian industry is showing constant growth and whilst the use of force is not common place, it does occur, primarily in the crowd control (nightclub) environment. In both the Australian and South African industries the interaction and cooperation with the police seems to be an important emerging trend. There are several noted cases of successful Private Public Partnerships (PPP) between the police and private security industry, demonstrating that collaboration can have a direct impact on the reduction in crime. The analysis of the industries in South African and Australia clearly demonstrates the need to further research and develop the evolving field of Security Science based on the increasing size and importance of the security industries in these locations. This finding is indicative of the status of security industries in most other countries.

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