What Security Guards Can and Cannot Do

From shopping centres and banks, to sporting arenas, offices, and hospitality venues, many Australian businesses and corporations include security guards as part of their security strategy. Whilst professional security services aim to deter any threats to security, they often must deal with a vast array of safety issues when they arrive. This often leads to the belief that security guards have the same legal authority as police officers, but is that the case?

According to Law

Even though professional security employees are hired to defend against criminal activity or violence, security guards do not possess more rights or legal authority than the public. This means that they cannot impose interrogation, and you can simply deny talking to them.

This begs the question – what can they rightfully do?

Perform a Citizen’s Arrest – Unlike police, PSOs and Authorised Officers, security guards don’t have any special powers to arrest you. However, they can make a citizen’s arrest. This only applies if their grounds of suspicion on the arrested person are reasonable and valid.

The situation must meet certain legal requirements that validate the security guards’ action. If it does not, a citizen can file charges against the security guard for wrongful accusation and arrest.

Security guards can protect in the event of a person causing harm to others or even themselves. Guards can also prevent someone from causing damage to a particular property that will result in the loss of business to the corporation that hired them.

Additionally, they also have the ability to prevent a person from fleeing after performing a criminal act, detaining a culprit until the police arrive.

What level of force can they use when performing an arrest? Generally, arresting a person requires some level of force. However, professional security guards are limited to only a certain degree of force by law. This means that any levels of physical force, such as pushing or grabbing, are only acceptable when necessary. A guard can push and pin an individual down in the process of detaining if the person is attempting to escape after committing a criminal offense.

Searching – A security guard does not have the right to search you or your possessions, even if they suspect you of stealing, however, they can detain you until a police officer arrives.

If a security guard must check your belongings to allow you access to a specific venue, and you refuse to comply, then they have the right to refuse you from entering.

Refusing Entry and Kicking Out – Security guards have the right to refuse entry or evict someone from a private property they are employed to protect. They usually don’t need a reason.

If you refuse to leave, they can use reasonable force to remove you. This means they can use as much force as is necessary and if you resist or fight back, then they are allowed to use more force.

Carry Weapons – Firearms may be carried by security guards when there is a high level of risk involved. The most obvious illustration of the requirement to carry firearms is the cash escort/carriage industry. An operator of a security company must obtain a category 6 (security guard) licence to be able to possess firearms.

Security companies are often employed by individuals or organisations to meet a shortfall between the security concerns of clients and the general security services provided by police forces, as police simply cannot be everywhere, all of the time.

Security guards often face adverse and difficult situations, however, professional security guards who have the right training, knowledge, and certification can be incredibly useful in those instances. If you are considering hiring security services for the protection of your business, you should always hire the best.

SecurT is a leading provider of expert security services in Australia. Contact us today on 1300 599 981 or reach out to us online to learn more about our services.