South Africa has the fourth largest private security industry in the world per capita, with registered security officials outnumbering sworn-in police officers and active soldiers in the army. Arnoux Maré, Group CEO of Innovative Solutions Group and Managing Director of Innovative Guarding Solutions, asks if the industry, now worth R45-billion a year, delivers value for the hard-earned buck invested by private citizens who no longer trust the limited resources of the SAPS to protect and serve.
The Institute for Race Relations’ (IRR) Centre for Risk Analysis South Africa Survey 2014/2015 found that South Africa’s private security force had quadrupled between 1997 and 2015, from 115,331 registered security officials, to just under 487,000. In comparison, the 2013/14 annual reports of the SAPS, the Private Security Regulatory Authority and the SANDF which comprises the army, air force and navy, note that the South African police force has around 153,000 sworn in police officers, while the South African army has only 89,000 active personnel. This is about half as many people as the private security force.
Unfortunately, the growth of the private security industry has been the very bane of some of its own challenges. According to the Security Association of South Africa (SASA), at the Securex conference in Midrand last year, as many as 80% of security guards, employed by over 9,000 companies, are non-compliant with the security industries standards.
Due to the high demand for security in South Africa, particularly by the middle class, guards are being pumped into the market by security companies without receiving proper screening and training. SASA further reports that there are thousands of security training centres that are providing certificates to individuals seeking to enter the industry - without training them.
In addition, SASA has also stated that less than 20% of employers in the security industry are participating in the industry provident fund. Bagging the question: ‘would you entrust your property, assets and people to a company that itself behaves illegally, sometimes going as far as to deduct contributions from employees and not hand them over to the fund?’
The onus lies with businesses and estate managers to be vigilant when contracting security companies to ensure that they are compliant with industry regulations. At Innovative Guarding Solutions, we place enormous emphasis on thoroughly vetting staff, doing background and criminal checks, verifying that their certification is legitimate and providing guards with ongoing professional training.
It is of great importance for our clients to make sure that they have the right company and the right people for the job, we apply customised due diligence when assessing security needs for any entity and our models are respected for lowering risk of crime by deterring it before it takes place.
Crime in the bigger cities is on a constant increase and as a result a large component of our business is commercial guarding, as well as the high-tech guarding of commercial and residential estates. While our outputs include mobile security patrols on site throughout the day, night and weekends to deter crime as well as anti-social behaviour. This is a high-tech market requiring CCTV to provide visual evidence to the police for prosecution purposes.
With South Africans having spent over R45-billion on private security in the last financial year alone, and the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill expected to be signed into law this year - reducing the pool of choices by favouring local ownership of the industry - it is high time you evaluate if your security partner still effectively gives a good return on investment. If not, and unfortunately so, your business, employees, family, friends and loved ones could be the next casualties of crime.