Role of Private and Public Security Agencies in Crime Prevention


Crime control and prevention refers to the process of legally acquiring evidence of crime that has been occurred. Its purpose is to identify truths linked to how and why certain crimes occurred and contribute to the work on developing a case that will lead to a successful prosecution of the offenders. It is a globally recognized fact that peace and security of life and property are primary factors needed for progress and development of any society (Uzuegbu, 2016). The state has a primary duty of providing the security of the citizens and all people within its jurisdiction, maintain order, and promoting crime prevention and community safety. Rise in insecurity cases has seen more people adopting private security as a means of enhancing their personal safety. Private security is regarded as an important instrument in crime prevention where it aims at preventing, limiting, or controlling crime and disorder in the society.

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Crime is noted to have many negative consequences for the victims and the society in general. Victims become traumatized from the experiences and this can cause different forms of physical and mental illness. Effective crime prevention initiatives are required to reduce the crime rates and increase safety. It has been noted that the element of criminality has become increasingly complex and enlarged in a variety crossing across international borders. Under the rule of law, the work of the ensuring that criminals who commit a crime are brought to justice is placed under the state. different nations put in place national initiatives dealing with individual categories of crime and put in place preventive elements. This paper will seek to explore the role of both private and public security agencies in crime prevention.

Role of Public Security Agencies in Crime Prevention

The police form the main public security agency that is tasked with the responsibility of upholding law in a fair and firm manner, prevention of crime and ensuring that justice is served against those who break the law. The topic of police and national security in the United States has largely been influenced by different political dissidents. The September 11 attacks in the US contributed to the nationwide initiatives to deal with national security threats. The nature of US policing and security agencies is due to the decentralized and localized nature of the law enforcement in the country. It is estimated that there are about 13500 local police departments from all over the country. There are also various sub-federal police agencies within the state county, city, town, or tribal organizations. The sub-federal agencies are charged with the task for large chunk of crime fighting and crime prevention in the country (Best, 2001).

Different law enforcement agencies and the federal agencies play a vital role in crime prevention. These public security agencies are tasked with the responsibility of gathering intelligence and responsibility of carrying out a security assessment. This has seen these organizations set up intelligence functions within their organizations. A key role that public security agencies are charged with is on intelligence gathering. This is made possible by the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan which is a crucial tool that law enforcement agencies can put in place in their crime-prevention and public safety initiatives (Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative, 2003).

Pubic security agencies play a critical role in facilitating criminal prosecutions for criminal acts such as terrorism. The public security agencies are charged with federal investigative and prosecutorial capabilities. Terrorism related crimes are dealt with at the federal level rather than state and local level.

 At the local government’s level, the government is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring public safety for all its citizens. The objectives of the police as public security agency include; preventing and control threats to life and property such as serious crime, assist the crime victims and protect people danger from physical harm, protect the rights of the people, facilitate the movement of people, identify potential threats for individuals, policeman, and government, and create and maintain a feel of community security.  

Role of Private Security Agencies in Crime Prevention

It has been observed that the role and size of private security industry has increased tremendously all over the world. In France, it is estimated that the private security agencies’ personnel grew from 100,000 personnel to 160000 in 2010, in 2003 in Japan had about 460000 private security personnel, South Africa had 390000 personnel in 2010, India had over 7 million security personnel which outnumbers police officers in a ratio 4.98:1. The ration in Guatemala is 6.01, Honduras 4.88, South Africa 2.57, USA 2.26, and Australia 2.19 (Palmer & Button, 2011). There some private security agencies that had been found to have over 500000 staff all over the world.

The continued pressure on the law enforcement community has contributed to the increasingly privatization of some police functions with an agenda of covering the gaps caused by the overstretched police. The private security agencies perform a complementary role to police in crime prevention and community safety. Sectors that the private security agencies have taken up include patrolling public streets, transporting valuable goods, protection of essential infrastructure, offering security services at airport and major transport centers, offering responses to alarm activation, carrying out surveillance, and ensuring order in large public events (Palmer & Button, 2011).

Private security agencies are known to carry out a number of roles in crime prevention such as executive protection and static security to train partner nations and offers sufficient logistics support in dangerous environments. Private security agencies have shifted beyond simple task of crime prevention to providing protection of private property. These expanded roles include maintaining order, investigating crimes, and supporting the homeland security efforts.

Private security agencies play their crime prevention roles in two categories. These include proprietary or corporate security and contract or private security firms. Corporate security refers to the security departments that is provided within businesses or corporations. Contract security firms on the other hand offers their services to the public including businesses, homeowners and banks.

The private security agencies are regarded as an important instrument to the crime prevention. They are involved in roles such as prevention, limiting, or controlling the level of crime and disorder in the society. The private security agencies engage in roles that are related to conventional policing. Private security agencies act in a manner that seeks to meet the needs of the clients who are willing to pay for their services. Private security is regarded as a form of privatization of the police force which has ensured creation of a new form of social control. Private security agencies are entrepreneurial in nature and serves a niche of operations. Private security agencies are only said to assist in crime prevention for those who can afford to pay for its services. The operation of private security agencies in crime prevention leads to greater social stratification, fragmentation, and equality.

The private security agencies are known to carry out crime prevention roles related to physical security, information security, and employment related roles. Physical security includes roles that are meant to safeguard the people, prevent unauthorized access to equipment, facilities, and materials as well as offering protection against security incident. The roles covered under information security deal with offering protection of information systems, databases and safety against cyber-crime. Employment related crime prevention initiatives aim at dealing with the potential threat or risk of personnel in an organization (Montgomery & Griffiths, 2016).

The private security agency has enhanced increment in investment in security technologies with an aim of crime reduction and prevention. The private security agencies have made a huge impact in the development of resources such as crime mapping, CCTV systems, sophisticated alarm and monitoring systems, pin and chip technologies, online virtual tours to how design for crime-free techniques, facial and eye recognition, firewalls and spyware detection. These developments have contributed to protection against loss, identifying offenders, and have contributed to opportunities for reduction of crime (Capobianco, 2005).


Crime control and prevention refers to process of legally acquiring evidence of crime that has been occurred. It is a globally recognized fact that peace and security of life and property are primary factors needed for progress and development of any society. The state offers public safety against crime through public security forces such as the police and other organs of national security. Recently, as discussed above, there has been a surge in demand for private security agencies. The continued pressure on the law enforcement community has contributed to the increasingly privatization of some police functions with an agenda of covering the gaps causes by the overstretched police. The private security agencies perform a complementary role to police.


Best Jr, R. A. (2001). Intelligence and Law Enforcement: Countering Transnational Threats to the US (No. CRS-RL30252). Federation of American Scientists Washington Dc.

Capobianco, L. (2005). Sharpening the lens: Private sector involvement in crime prevention. International Centre for the Prevention of Crime.

Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative. (2003). The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan.

Montgomery, R., & Griffiths, C. T. (2016). The Use of Private Security Services for Policing.

Palmer, R., & Button, M. (2011). Civilian private security services: their role, oversight and contribution to crime prevention and community safety.

Uzuegbu-Wilson, E. (2016). Partnership Between the Police and Private Security Agencies on Crime Prevention and Control in Nigeria: An Empirical Analysis. Journal of Humanities and Social Science , 57-62.

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