Archive for March, 2013

It is very clear that the private policing sector is growing rapidly even more so than the public policing sector. In general, to become a public police officer in Canada is rather challenging for most people. Individuals who want to be a public police officer go through myriads of checks, clearances, interviews, trainings, and above all they go through an emotional roller coaster. However, a lot of people choose private policing as a stepping stone in becoming a real police officer. The hiring process for the security guard position is a lot less stressful and a lot easier. The requirements are very minimal and it is not even comparable to real police training. I have noticed that security companies hire just about everyone for the position regardless of their age, gender, height, and weight. This could have good and bad sides. It is good in a sense that they are less discriminatory in their hiring process and seem to give people an equal amount of chance of getting the job. However, it could mean a bad thing as they might hire someone who is looking for that position for the wrong reasons. Van Buuren mentions about occupational values which could be equal to a corruption problem. For example, I have two friends who work in a certain security company (I prefer not to name the company). From what I have seen, they both like to work mainly special events such as concerts, and football games because they take cash from people who do not have tickets and lets them “slide in”. This is a pure corruption in my eyes. Also, Van Buuren talks about “Accountability” which doesn’t seem to affect the private policing sector on a same level as it affects the police departments. The private security guards go through a very minimal training and tend to overestimate their rights. I have been volunteering for the VPD for 5 years now and I have seen my fair share of misguided security guards who seem to think that they are the real police officers. Just like the Pivot society survey revealed, I have seen those security guards yelling and labelling homeless people (homeless looking people got yelled at too) and kicking them out of public spaces. It is a well- known problem, but nothing seems to be done in order to re- educate those rude security guards who seem to think that they are the “real deal”.

In conclusion, changing the legislation alone is not going to do anything unless the company trainings are developed further. These million different companies really should re- train their employees and make their selection process a bit harder.


PIVOT Legal Society (2009). Security Before Justice: A Study of the impacts of private security on homeless and under- housed Vancouver Residents. 

Van Buuren, J. (2010). “Private Security Ethics: Reintroducing Public Values”, in M. den Boer & E. Kolthoff (eds) Ethics and Security. The Hague: Eleven International Publishing, pp. 165-187. 


While the private security sector is not a new phenomenon, there has been rapid and substantial growth of the industry in recent years. Private security encompasses a number of various aspects of public order, crime prevention, and investigation. The private sector has experienced (likely the most significant) growth in systems technology development, however, private security personnel are what is most often equated with the term private security.

There is a tendency to conceptualise public and private security as two separate and largely divorces entities; however this view is not reflective of the reality of policing. Private security personnel outnumber public police officers worldwide (in British Columbia the ratio is approximately 2:1) and are retained by both private individuals as well as government bodies. With the expansion of the private security industry, and the blurred lines of the private and public sectors, there are a number of societal and political consequences to consider. Jelle van Buuren (2010) brings awareness to a number of the ethical concerns which have arisen from the concept of security as a commodity.

A key theme Buuren identifies is that of inclusion-exclusion. With security being viewed as a commodity, an industrial market approach is being taken – with a focus on maximising profits. Capitalising on security appears to be a far cry from the perception of security as a public good, and opens the door for a stratified level of distribution. Allocating security on the basis of generating the greatest profit is worrisome as those on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum, who are already marginalised, are likely to become even more so as they do not possess the means to ensure the same level of security as the more affluent.

This distribution by market rather than need was apparent during a study, conducted by Pivot Legal Society, regarding the impacts of private security on marginalised residents in Vancouver during 2007. The report as well as the recommendations can be accessed here. The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) is publicly funded through property-tax and is managed by a non-profit group of property owners who are active in promoting business, tourism, safety, and street beautification in their business district. The improvement of business districts includes dispersing the considerable homeless and under-housed residents of Vancouver. The interests of the elite, who are able to buy security, are recognised with the dispersal of the homeless population –  those thought to be unsightly and contributing factor to the success of establishments in the district. Those of low socio-economic status are effectively barred entry/access to certain areas, which limits their participation to some degree in society, on the basis of presumed undesirable behaviour.

A listing of Business Improvement Areas (BIA) within the city of Vancouver, as well as Council reports detailing BIA budgets, can be accessed here.

During the study conducted by Pivot Legal it was found that homeless and under-housed people not only had more frequent interactions with private security personnel, but that these interactions were often problematic. As the lines of public and private policing have become increasingly blurred it appears that private security personnel are uncertain as to their limitations of power, and are routinely overstepping their authority. This is problematic as those who are most often in contact with private personnel are those who are most marginalised and who lack the resources to complain about/challenge such abuses of power.

Traditional mechanisms of oversight and accountability are not seen within the private security sector, which makes the complaints process even more challenging in instances of misconduct. No over-arching body exists overseeing all private security corporations nationally, let alone on a provincial level. As disciplinary action occurs in-house, one must make a complaint with the specific company the security agent is employed by.

Pivot Legal found during the course of their study that a number of those living in the Downtown Eastside were unaware of their rights surrounding private security – what exactly was within the scope of private policing powers. Many were unaware that their rights were being infringed upon, and those who did recognise the overstepping of authority were unsure as to how to go about making a complaint.

Van Buuren, J. (2010). “Private Security Ethics: Reintroducing Public Values”, in M. den Boer & E. Kolthoff (eds) Ethics and Security. The Hague: Eleven International Publishing, pp. 165-187.

Private security officers are people who are hired to protect property, assets, or people. Their job is to don a uniform to show high visibility presence to deter crime or any illegal behavior in general from taking place in the first place. Private Security has greatly emerged over the past few years, and today we sit at approximately 140,000 licensed private security guards in Canada, where as there are only 70,000 police officers. The fact that there are twice as many private security officers than police officers can be very alarming as many people’s rights could be in jeopardy any given day. Private security nowadays covers a multitude of industries, large and small, all related to the provision of security services, investigations, crime prevention, order maintenance, intelligence collection and military services (Van Steden and Sarre, 2007, p. 226).

In December of 2007, the City of Vancouver authorized $872,000 to help fund the expansion of the Downtown Ambassadors Program which is a private security patrol project run by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. Pivot Legal Society, in 2007, asked 154 people from the Downtown Eastside to take part in a survey in regards to their interactions with private security guards. This research showed a lot of potential issues with private security officers such as:

  • Only 12% of respondents to the survey said they had face to face contact with private security guards once a month.
  • A third of the respondents claimed to have had face to face contact with private security guards 4 times or more a month.
  • Many respondents also used the space provided to express they had face to face contact with private security guards “every day” or “all the time”
  • The survey also identified a strong correlation between housing status and the frequency of interactions with private security guards as homeless people tend to be more frequent targets by private security guards.

The survey brought on a whole new spotlight on the private security industry as issues such as accountability and just the way private security companies run their organizations are brought into question. The survey as a whole outlines the many issues against having private security guards in charge of keeping the downtown eastside clean and making the businesses more attractive to customers. This ties into the “Inclusion-Exclusion” concept Van Buuren talk about as he says states that security pretty much is a commodity now and that it can only be “purchased” or used by the wealthy and the poor are left without any security. The rich are able to use private security forces to do their dirty work for them because they have the luxury of being able to afford it. This leads to the wealthy and poor being completely separated. This makes it look like as if we live in segregated communities – both controlled by the wealthy. This is also related to the concept of “Private Justice” as it reiterates how the wealthy and powerful people are segregated from society. However the concept also reveals how private security organizations, since “owned” by the rich and powerful people, have “private orders” given to them. This leads to unethical and illegal practices and complaints and such being handled internally, meaning the public won’t hear of it and nothing will be reported to the police – and if lucky the person the complaint is against might face some sort of consequences. The most interesting of concepts Van Buuren talks about is “Occupational Values” which describes how the private security industry hired personnel whom work solely for the client and does whatever the client says. Reason being that the people private security hire are not prepared for the type of work nor do they receive efficient enough training. Also the fact that the whole hiring process is very laid back, it often leads to people being hired who may have criminal records or even people deciding to join security for all the wrong reasons in the first place. The use of illegal force by the private security guards and the harassment and removal of the homeless people from public spaces from the PIVOT survey results are a perfect example for this concept.

There tends to be a notion that private security guards have little accountability when they go beyond their authority and engage in unethical behavior. Which in my opinion can be true due to many factors such as some believing they are being underpaid for the type of work they are doing so they go to extents to either prove themselves or simply don’t care about the consequences. Some don’t realize that they have just as much authority as a regular citizen but instead they feel like they can control people and take away some of their rights. The most common being that the second one throws on a uniform they feel as they have more power than regular citizens and that they can do whatever they want to fulfill their duties. Having worked in the security industry myself, I can honestly say that there have been times I have crossed the line due to the so called “more power” I felt I had over a regular citizen at the venues. However what people fail to realize is that sometimes citizens try to belittle private security guards by taunting them for being “wannabe cops” which eventually leads to someone acting out of frustration. However, in conclusion I do agree with Van Buuren’s take on the problems of the private security industry as I read through the concepts put forward I couldn’t help but recall everything I have either done or witnessed in my time as a security guard.


PIVOT Legal Society (2009). Security Before Justice: A study of the impacts of private security on homeless and under-housed Vancouver residents. 

Steden, R. van and R. Sarre (2007), “The Growth of Private Security: Trends in the European Union”, Security Journal, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 222–235.

Van Buuren, J. (2010). “Private Security Ethics: Reintroducing Public Values”, in M. den Boer & E. Kolthoff (eds) Ethics and Security. The Hague: Eleven International Publishing, pp. 165-187.

My blog post will review normative consequences of private policing, particularly its ethical concern and outcomes. I will attempt to explain these practices in terms of ethics behind private policing and I will also use my own experience as a Downtown Ambassador to give a perspective on the behaviors of a public policeman.

One term that caught my eye in the readings Ethics and Security was ‘uniform justice for all’. This term was used in the context of how a lack of consideration for such topics was rife in public policing bodies. Private policing has a mandate to ‘limit participation’ and exclude on the basis of ‘assumed good or bad’ creating an idea held by themselves and those they police, that security is about exclusion and gates. Private policing is said to lack of any overall ethical goal in their practice. This is because someone has paid for them to patrol their property and not for ‘public good’. Do the young security guards, who unknowingly take up the task of perceived public good, know of the impact they are having on their own ethical standing? The answer is no.

My experience as a public policeman, working for the downtown ambassadors was a good one. I was called to business to apply soft pressure in order to remove unwanted characters from the premises. At no point did I ask myself whether or not what I was doing had any impact on the persons I was policing. The orientation in becoming a security guard involved what not to do such as use any force, try and police in public space and searching people. This way of training did not lend to any ethical matters or concerns that might be involved in being a public policeman. I believe if such instruction would give it would cause a different outlook in the security guards. They might begin to see themselves as the one who polices and is responsible for the security of others instead of the guy called to shovel out the drunks.

Is the answer to having public security held accountable to crack down on legislation and impose large fines for any violation? Should security guards be held accountable at the individual level? I thing before we make any huge sweeping changes in legislation, we need to inform the people doing the job of policing. Instead of focus what is ‘wrong’ during the orientation into becoming a private policeman and effort should be made to teach the young security guards what their job really entails. By instilling in them certain ideas around security and what the term really means, private policing agencies can be sure that human rights violations and the like will be much less likely, as the potential perpetrators will know why what they are doing is really wrong.

In this unit, we are studying deviance and accountability in the context of public order policing. Our case study is the Toronto 2010 G20.

You have an option for this unit’s ‘food for thought’ question – you may respond to question 1 or question 2.

Food for Thought Question 1

Prepare a written response to Gord Hill’s depiction of the events surrounding the Toronto 2010 G20, from the Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book (excerpt distributed in class) Your response should provide your impression of this representation of the G20, comments on ‘issues arising’, and a reflection on aspects of police deviance and accountability depicted.

Food for Thought Question 2

Watch the CBC Fifth Estate documentary “You Should have Stayed at Home”.

Prepare a written response to the documentary. Your response should provide your impression of this representation of the G20, comments on ‘issues arising’, and a reflection on aspects of police deviance and accountability depicted. Your response should include commentary on the implications of the title statement – ‘you should have stayed at home’.

Responses should be submitted by the end of the day on April 5.

Analysis Of Private Security Ethics To The Case Study Of Private Policing

Private policing overtime has been growing much faster than public law. The growth of private policing is expanding extremely fast and has less requirements than public law. Today you can spot private security members anywhere you go. For example, a security guard at a construction site has a job to make sure that no one trespasses on the construction site at night. Private security also provide protection, patrolling/scanning areas and can be hired personally to protect oneself from danger. Private security is all around us and is expanding very rapidly.

Pivot Legal Society conducted a survey, which developed a lot of new information about private policing and their affects on the homeless residing in the Downtown area of Vancouver.  It was found that the private security was abusing their power against the homeless. The homeless were mistreated by private security in many ways for example: having the homeless moved off of public property such as sidewalks, as well as conducting illegal searches, and engaging in profiling where they specifically looked for homeless citizens that looked like they were on drugs of any sort. The private police in Vancouver were out of line mainly due to the fact that many rights of the homeless citizens were broken.

Jelle Van Buuren focused on private security ethics as wells as the values of the public. By using his study we can analyze the issues that were brought up in the report created by Pivot Legal Society. Van Buuren talks about the concept of “Rolling Out The State,” this is the change of policing system in which the public police forces once provided almost all policing services, to one in which policing services are provided by a range of public and private agencies (Van, J. 2010). This is important, because we once had Vancouver Police controlling much of Vancouver and providing policing. But now in Vancouver there is more private security than normal officers.For example, my friend he works for a private security organisation and without much training he is able to provide safety for the public. Not only do these officers have less training than the VPD, but they don’t have the same power as them. So when private police go out on the field they shouldn’t be asking the homeless to move off public property or even be searched that isn’t their job. Another concept Van Buuren focuses on “Occupational Values,” this is what we call corruption in private security. For example, instead of looking out for the safety of the public and doing their job as needed. They rather focus on themselves and do things that will benefit them. For the VPD one needs to go through many clearances, which may not be the case for private security. Also, being trained properly and finding the best officers for the job separates the VPD from the private security. Lastly Van Burren speaks about, “Accountability,” private security is a single organization depending on the name of the organization such as, Paladin security. They are bound by the judicial system, but there is little reliable proof that it is effective (Van. J, 2010). Even though the private security organizations have been breaking many laws there hasn’t been much going on to fix the problem, because the judicial system hasn’t been providing just actions.

In conclusion, even though private security is much larger in numbers than public police there are many flaws in the system. With the help of Van Buuren a better analysis of the Pivot Legal Report could be drawn. It helps raise the issue that private police still have some issues in their system and need to be fixed before they can move forward. Private security have been focusing on the homeless in Vancouver Downtown much more than any other members of society, this profiling is causing a problem for many homeless citizens that are being treated unlawfully.


PIVOT Legal Society (2009). Security Before Justice: A study of the impacts of private security on homeless and under-housed Vancouver residents. 

Van Buuren, J. (2010). “Private Security Ethics: Reintroducing Public Values”, in M. den Boer & E. Kolthoff (eds) Ethics and Security. The Hague: Eleven International Publishing, pp. 165-187. 

Research Agenda: Police Brutality

Posted: March 26, 2013 by pmaharaj91 in Uncategorized

Recently, “police brutality” has become a major issue around the world. However, there is not a large amount of data on police brutality in Canada. According to, police brutality is defined as the “wanton use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer.” The police have the right to use “reasonable force”, if it is essential to make an arrest, uphold order, or for reconciliation matters. Usually, most police brutality goes un-reported, most police brutality is focused against minority groups or otherwise weak populations, some police expect citizens to automatically obey to police authority and a few officers are prolonged offenders, who are accountable for an inconsistent number of brutality complaints. Though, how much force is applicable under certain conditions can be debateable. When an officer uses more force than needed, he, or she is violating the law.

Firstly, I propose to conduct a survey on police officers. This will give me an idea of what is occurring with the police and how police brutality can be reduced. I would give the police officers from B.C. a random and anonymous survey to complete. I would get the police officers to complete an agreement scale type of survey. A question on it could be, “in the last 6 months, have you engaged in excessive force to uphold order?” They would get to choose from strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. If they agreed to this, at the bottom they would have to write what occurred in that, or those situations.

Moreover, I would also conduct a survey on the general public of British Columbia. I would give them a random and anonymous survey to complete as well. They as well would complete an agreement scale type of survey. A question on it could be, “in the last 6 months, have you been a victim of police brutality?” They as well would get to choose from strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. If they agreed to this, they would have to write out what occurred in that situation in time.

Furthermore, when I have gotten the two parties to complete the surveys, I would then gather my evidence and present it.

To close, although this is a simple strategy, it would give me a good idea of what is going on because it is a random sample of people, who are anonymous, so results would not be biased. My study will show how much force is used by police officers, but it will also give us an idea of where the police can improve on with excessive force with the general public and how often it occurs. This research would be cost effective and the funding could also be a good way for proper training for police officers and how to deal with individuals better. This is why my study should receive funding.