The Legal Powers of Private Security Personnel: Some Policy Considerations and Legislative Options

  • Rick Sarre

Abstract

A decade into the 21st century, we find that there is no abatement of the 20th century trends towards private policing becoming more and more pervasive in Australia. The private sector has been quickly and eagerly filling a modern need for diverse policing services. But the legal powers that apply to private security personnel are still based upon ideas of policing that are rapidly becoming outdated. For the powers of and restraints upon ‘private police’ emerge from the general law that relates principally to the activities of officious private citizens and journalists. This paper explores the variety of roles that private security personnel now regularly undertake and provides an overview of the current legal bases upon which private security personnel operate when wielding coercive powers. The author critiques legal models that could apply to empower and regulate the activities of private sector police personnel in a manner that befits the new roles and tasks that are being undertaken by them and required of them.

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