The global security services industry is a $15bn market. In India, the 7mn private security workforce is increasing by 1mn annually and is set to cross the 10mn mark by 2015. The market is growing at 25% and is estimated to reach INR 300 bn by 2015, making it one of the top ten security markets in the world. The growth factors are rapid urbanisation, industrialisation, infrastructure, telecommunication, real estate, retailing (mushrooming malls) and financial services. The Private Security Sector (PSS) has a vital role in nation-building. A robust and professional PSS can provide a conducive environment for economic and industrial growth.
The Private Security Industry (PSI) in India is unregulated and unorganised. There are about 15000 registered agencies. Another 30% are estimated to be un-registered. 60% of the force is employed on man guarding. There is “no standard – standard”( no pun intended). Although, Central Government has made an attempt by enacting the Private Security Agencies Regulation Act (PSARA) 2005 and forming model rules. It lays down guidelines for licensing and general training standards. This requires changes and improvement. Most states have been very slow in making their own Act and Rules and are also tardy in its implementation.
Law and order (L&0) being a state subject, each state has formulated its own rules and regulations for the Private Security Sector. There is no coordination and uniformity between states. There is no national database. Thus a security guard (SG) belonging to one state but employed in another commits a crime, say –murder, in that state, escapes to a third state and promptly takes up employment there without anybody getting wiser. Though there is an acute shortage of training facilities in the Private Security Sector, however, a quality training provider (TP) duly recognised and licensed in one state is unable to train SGs for deployment in another.
Scope for the private security sector
The current population of India under 25 years is 51% and that under 35 is 66%. This large young population with high aspirations, if not gainfully employed, could lead to social unrest and crime. Crime has become a profitable career option as the conviction rate is a measly 10%. Most crimes are committed by the weaker sections of society. It is mostly this section from which the Private Security Sector harnesses its manpower. The PSS is the largest employer in India after agriculture. Presently, the demand for the Private Security Sector outstrips the supply of manpower by 30-35%. Due importance, therefore, needs to be accorded to this sector.
The SG is considered an unskilled worker. He receives minimum wages of an unskilled worker. Most establishments do not consider security important for their business or an “investment”. The attitude is that “this will not happen to me” until it is too late. 26/11 is a case in point. Security is often compromised by cost cutting and over stretching the staff.
To an employer his commitments to business are the main priority and training is considered an unnecessary ‘cost liability’. Thus quality takes a back seat. It does not attract either talent or skill for youth who would consider security as an attractive career option. There is a need to de-link security from minimum wages and accord a SG the status of a skilled worker and a special wage board set for his remuneration.
Though the SGs may be considered the third line of defence after the armed forces and central police forces, the SG is often the first responder in case of any eventuality whether it is fire, disaster, a bomb and a criminal or terrorist threat. Subsequent turn of events and management of the situation by subsequent follow on forces will to a large extent depend upon the crucial and immediate actions of the first responder. He, therefore, needs to be trained adequately to respond to such eventualities.
During the London Olympics, one of the reasons quoted for the inability of the service provider to provide adequate security staff in time was “Low wages”. The bottom line is ‘if you want quality you have to pay’.
The many hats
The general public perception of security is that it is meant just to check passes and keep criminals away. Many employers regard them as ceremonial showpieces or as a status symbol rather than as a substantial means of security. Private security (PS) performs the job of a man guarding, detective services, ATM security, cash management, executive protection and event security. There are other tasks for which Private security can be used, such as intelligence, surveillance, emergency response, first Aid and evacuation, conflict resolution, firefighting, client management, disaster management and image protection.
The general perception is that private security has no role in image protection; as in the case of Prince Harry, when the security personnel did not stop the paparazzi clicking him in the buff, the chief of security instead explained that the security detail was there for his protection and not for regulating his life. Another important role Private security can be used for is to complement the police in its functions.
The Private Security Guards apart from being understaffed, poorly recruited, overstretched and untrained also suffer from lack of legal authority and protection. There are no special legal provisions available to the PSS in the Criminal Procedure Code. A high profile VIP may take offence to be checked or frisked by an SG. We recently saw the plight of a hapless security guard trying to stop a top Bollywood star from entering the stadium after an IPL match. If a private SG confronts an armed criminal with a weapon or an IED, he has no legal authority to arrest or detain him.
An unarmed private SG is no match to an AK- 47/ 56 wielding terrorist. The 12 bore gun which some guards are seen carrying at banks and other places are licensed to him, essentially for his self or crop protection and cannot be used for third party protection. There is no law which allows private security agencies to keep arms and ammunition. In fact, the prevalent laws are deficient in this segment of activity. In view of the contemporary security environment, nature of threats to public and private sector businesses and critical infrastructure, it is about time the government permitted the same. The general argument against this is that these firearms are likely to be misused.
However, if we compare statistics released by the national crime records bureau, 5575 people were murdered using firearms in the country out of which 4988 were killed using illegal and unlicensed arms. Only 587 of the deaths were traced due to licensed weapons which included accidental deaths or crimes of passion. Criminals are more likely to use unlicensed arms which are easily available in the market than a licensed one which is traceable to them.
The missing links
India has one of the lowest Police to population ratios of 0.95:1000 against the global average of 3:1000. India’s population is 1.2bn and growing at 2% annually. The Police cannot match up to provide adequate security to each and every citizen. As per 2002-2003 estimates, the Police required 5.93 Lakh personnel. For which it required an additional 3600 crores per year. This figure would be substantially more now. It is unlikely this would be coming any time soon. Thus the PSI has to step in and take on tasks beyond the resources and training of the Police.
Most Terrorist incidents occur due to failure of intelligence. It is better to ‘prevent than repent’. The private security sector can act as “eyes and ears” of the Police and assist the beat constable in his primary job of patrolling.
The PSI can assist the Police in noncore peripheral Police functions to enable the Police to focus on sovereign functions. The Bangalore Police is already utilizing private security for traffic management. The PSI can act as a private Police force duly integrated into the L & O framework to take on threats and challenges not actionable by state machinery due to want of personnel. The unused capacity at Police Training Centres and Shooting ranges should be provided to the PSI to train themselves.
Most Terrorist incidents occur due to failure of intelligence. It is better to ‘prevent than repent’. The private security sector can act as “eyes and ears” of the Police and assist the beat constable in his primary job of patrolling. When Kasab and his cohorts landed at Mumbai, people noticed them, but nobody reported it due to lack of an established network. The PSI can also be included in intelligence sharing/ gathering within the L& O framework.
All this necessitates that the PSS develop a professional approach and ethos to training as in the armed forces. Private security should understand that they operate NOT in the private domain but in the public domain. They should complement the state L&O machinery. Their capability, capacity, effectiveness, delivery of services and standards should be of a high order.
The security manpower has to be properly selected, character and antecedents duly verified, imparted requisite general/role-specific training and skills development at quality training institutions. They need to have periodic refresher training to hone up skills and keep abreast with developments in security equipment, technology and science. As a long term measure, PSI should establish security research, analysis and development centre.
Scope for teamwork
Effective security is the integration of manpower, technology and procedures/ systems. Technology alone cannot provide effective security. In the recent Boston Marathon blasts on 15 April 2013, though the database contained images of both the Tsarnaev bombers, the facial recognition software failed to come up with a match. The vital clues were given by humans. The competence of the man behind the equipment does matter. His capability to utilise the equipment/ technology is in direct proportion to the standard of training imparted.
As per PSARA all SG including the 7mn existing and 1 mn annual inductees need to be trained. If we focus only on the 1 mn annual inductees of new SG, then we have 80,000 Guards to be trained every month. At 500 capacity per training centre, we require 160 high-quality training centres. This is much beyond the available training capacity in the private security sector. If we factor the training of the remaining 7mn guards the training requirement will be phenomenal.
The PSS with such a large base of security manpower in India can impact the security environment. If properly trained and harnessed it can be a rich source to complement L & O and internal security. The rapidly expanding and evolving PS market with demand grossly outstripping supply is bound to foster mushrooming of un-registered agencies and fly by night operators. There is thus a need for strict regulations as well for standardization, accreditation and certification of TPs, SGs and service providers. The establishment of the Security Knowledge and Skill Development Council (SKSDC) by the Government is a right step in this direction. The SKSDC has a huge task ahead of them.
We need to understand that a SG is a multi-faceted entity and if properly trained can be used for multifarious roles. The security manifested is only as effective as training imparted.
Whereas, there is an attempt to regulate PSS but there is no law in the world for the regulation of security standards by the employer. We have a building code, fire code, environmental code/law but no security code even for public buildings/institutions. There are ISI standards for products, credit ratings for banks, even schools and colleges are ranked, hotels are ranked in terms of star ratings but there is no security rating.
Public institutions and places of high public footfalls need to be graded in terms of their security matrix so that the public is assured of their safety and the establishment/facility is constrained to ensure minimum security standards. This will ensure demand for quality manpower and quality growth of the PSS.
Finally, we need to understand that a SG is a multi-faceted entity and if properly trained can be used for multifarious roles. The security manifested is only as effective as training imparted. With enhanced threats to businesses, employers are looking for quality security personnel. This was the reason for the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) being preferred by IT Companies such as Infosys. But the CISF is now overcommitted. They are also very costly. Businesses are now looking for high-quality private security manpower at reasonable costs.
An erstwhile member of the elite National Security Guard( NSG),the author, Brig (retd) Subodh Kaul, VSM, is the Director Training of Indian Eye Security Pvt. Ltd. He retired from the Indian Army after 37 years service.