Contemporary issues within Private policing

Contemporary Issues within Private Policing

Policing in contemporary society is impacted by a wide range of issues that must be taken into account to protect the public good. In the recent past, outsourcing of security services has become a new norm as private entities look for their own means to bolster their security. At the same time, governments’ attempts to reduce their recurrent expenditures have seen them turn to the outsourcing of security services (Adam, 2021). However, outsourcing has had its challenges that include a lack of accountability. The effectiveness of the police service in outsourcing services depends on how best the system is structured to promote transparency and accountability.

The public shift to private security is necessitated by members of the public losing confidence in the state security system. The limitation of the government in the provision of security to every entity results in the demand for private policing (Provost, 2021). In the long run, private policing is embraced to supplement the government security system. However, this does not imply that private policing is more effective in safeguarding public security. Private security personnel are limited in many ways; for instance, they have no capacity to carry out operations such as counter-terrorism. This raises the question about the quality of security services that are offered by private firms. The commercialization of security services exposes members of the public to possible exploitation by companies offering security. The industry is not well regulated to ensure that customers get value for their money.

Accountability issues

Accountability of policing is handy in guaranteeing quality security services to public and private entities. The use of police officers for private policing in the U.S. has led to concerns about a lack of transparency in how the officers who are involved are hired and compensated. Some police officers offer private security services without their employer’s knowledge, ending up receiving double payment. Outsourcing security services would be good if it helps the government to reduce the expenses of managing the police service. Corruption has rocked private policing, tainting the reliability of public-private partnerships in providing security (Lawrence, 2021). Consequently, the government needs to establish systems for monitoring private policing, particularly where police officers outsource their services to private firms at a fee.

The prevalence of cases where police officers make private arrangements to offer security services to private firms at a fee instead of allowing the contracting party to contact the police service points out to corruption in private policing (Provost, 2021). Police officers are not supposed to draw more than one salary, especially without their employer’s approval. Private firms often look upon the police service for security services where the need arises (Jurevicius, 2021). In the attempt to procure security services from police officers, private entities are not compelled to follow the right channels, especially where a police officer or police officers are willing to offer the services through backdoor arrangements.

Private policing is also marred without cases of dishonest earning, where police officers are paid for work they did not perform. There is no clear system of enforcing ethics in private security firms (“Ethics | College of Policing,” 2021). This affects police officers providing private security as well as private security guards. Police officers receive payments for assignments they did not perform because there is no effective system of monitoring private policing (Zaiaa, Ujevicb, Lippertb & Walbyc, 2019). Police officers’ arrangements to offer private security have not been structured well to seal all possible loopholes that can be explored by corrupt officers to make irregular earnings.

Public-private partnership

The partnership between the public and private sectors to provide security has been explored in contemporary security arrangements. The government can subcontract private security firms to provide security, as seen in the use of G4S Security Company to provide security in England (White, 2014). Private policing is thought to be less costly and effective than relying on the police force. However, this is not always the case as sometimes private security firms are inadequate and incompetent in stepping in for the police. The use of G4S security personal during the 2012 Olympic Games in London brought out the flaws of private security firms in stepping in for police (White, 2014). Private security firms are not well trained and equipped to provide security in complex situations as state security agents.

Moreover, private security firms are modeled around profit-making, which explains why they are not well equipped and trained like police officers. Private policing allows police service and security issues to be subjected to market forces. Ideally, security should be considered a public concern that the state ought to fix. Outsourcing of security services by the government exposes the public to poor quality security services (Nalla, Maxwel, Mamayek, 2017). The levels of training and equipping security forces impact their ability to provide security.

The degree to which public-private partnerships can go without compromising security is also an issue of concern in the contemporary world. Private policing cannot replace public policing because of legal and capacity issues (“Security Industry Authority,” 2021). Public security enjoys more authority than private security, which makes private policing less effective, where much force and authority are required (White, 2014). It is imperative to note that no clear law defines how public-private partnerships should be conducted, which leaves grey areas that can work against quality policing.


Private policing has gained much trust among members of the public because private security personal are perceived to be gentle than public security officers. The trust gives private policing legitimacy to manage security issues as contracted. Legitimacy issues arise when the police and the state do not approve the authority of private security officers. The government actions allow private security officers the legitimacy to use force in the line of duty. The use of coercive force is usually a preserve of state security agencies, which have a clear mandate of providing security (Stenstrom, 2018). The justification of private policing is critical to private security officers’ operations, especially with regard to how they exercise coercive power.

In conclusion, private policing in the contemporary world is compounded by many issues that range from a lack of accountability, corruption, regulation, capacity, and legitimacy. Accountability problem is a major concern in outsourcing of security services, particularly where police officers are involved. The demand for security services across the world has led to an increase in private policing. The interaction between private and public policing has not fully evolved to eliminate loopholes that are exploited by unscrupulous police officers and individuals to make illegal earnings.


Adam, W. 2021. Private Security Vs. Public Policy. Legal Beagle. Retrieved 14 January 2021, from

Ethics | College of Policing. College.police. U.K. 2021. Retrieved 14 January 2021, from

Jurevicius, O. 2021. Conquer the Challenge of Expansion with McKinsey 7s. Strategic Management Insight. Retrieved 14 January 2021, from

Lawrence, N. 2021. Pros and Cons of Private Policing. Legal Beagle. Retrieved 14 January 2021, from

Nalla, M.K, Maxwel, S. R., Mamayek, C.M. 2017. Legitimacy of Private Police in Developed, Emerging and Transitional Economies. European journal of crime, criminal law and criminal justice 25 (2017) 76-100.

Provost, C. 2021. The industry of inequality: why the world is obsessed with private security. The Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2021, from

Security Industry Authority. GOV.UK. 2021. Retrieved 14 January 2021, from

Stenstrom, A. 2018. The Private Policing of Insurance Claims: Power, Profit, and Private Justice. British Journal of Criminology, 58 (2), pp. 478-496.

White, A. 2014. Post-Crisis Policing and Public-Private Partnerships: The Case of Lincolnshire Police and G4S. Brit. J. Criminol. (2014) 54, 1002–1022.

ZAIA, M. et al. 2019 Investigating accountability of public policy in the private employment realm. International Journal of Law, Crime, and Justice, 57, pp. 36-46.

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