Dear Editor – A principal of a Honiara based private security business wrote to me the other day reminding me of advice I had once given him about the need for local security businesses to be properly regulated with legislative solutions similar to those in regional countries.
It is quite a few years since I left the Solomon Islands so I have no updated knowledge of the extent and growth of private security firms locally but having read from time to time of private security guards being used to safeguard premises and property in and around the national capital and, most recently, at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) following reported incidences of theft, I assume that there has been an expansion of private security firms in operation.
I would still advocate, therefore, for proper regulation and training of private security personnel on the assumption that private security has taken on a greater role.
With the proposed withdrawal of RAMSI support in June next year, it would be timely, in my opinion, to give some thought to better regulation of the local security industry and its personnel since the operations of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) are essentially quite different from the work of private security personnel but, nevertheless, the private security industry, if properly regulated, could aid the work of the RSIPF in helping to reduce crime, enhance community safety and contribute to sustainable economic growth.
It has to be recognised that private security personnel are not considered police officers, as appointed in terms of the Police Act and are, therefore, not bound by the same rules and regulations that apply to the police.
There have been instances reported when untrained or minimally trained, and basically unqualified security officers have taken action against customers and employees which have been unreasonable and in some instances excessive.
Without the statutory protections which would be available if the act were committed by a police officer, the only recourse, it would imply, for a private individual against wrongful or reckless conduct on the part of a private security officer would be civil action seeking compensation.
If such occurrences happened then it could be harmful not only to the individual security officer but to the security firm which was the employer.
To avoid the possibility of civil suits but also to better regulate the work and conduct of individual security officer there should be consideration given at an early stage, bearing in mind what I have mentioned about the withdrawal of RAMSI by next June, to formal training to provide local security industry personnel with the occupational and behavioural skills and attitudes necessary to professionally function as a security officer, or guard, as required by regulations set out in a Private Security Act.
Most states in Australia have Private Security Legislation and copies of the various Security Acts can be downloaded by referring to the website of the Australian Security Industry Association Limited (ASIAL) for guidance in framing local legislation.