Committee Reports::Report No. 04 - Controls on the private security industry::30 October, 1984::Appendix

Appendix C


The Control of the Private Security Industry and Private Detectives in other Countries

The information available to the Home Office about the statutory control of the private security industry and private detectives in other countries is set out below.

West Germany

Legislation dates from 1976. Private security organisations must be licensed by the Lander and local authorities. There are rules governing limited liability of private security organisations; the safeguarding of business secrets; the age of employees; uniforms; identity cards; the handling of firearms; the keeping of records; and powers of entry to the premises of security organisations and the inspection of records.


Legislation was enacted in 1936 and 1938. Its purpose was to control the activities of political organisations.

Licences are issued annually by the Ministry of Justice after consultation with the local police and are subject to conditions such as no criminal record, adequate finance, technical competence and evidence of a contract to guard premises. Both companies and employees have to be licensed.

The Government is considering a report of a working committee which recommended up-dating of existing regulations and new controls; including:

(i)separate licences for watch and guard companies; in-house security organisations; intruder alarm companies and companies guarding money and valuables in transit;

(ii)an independent (private) institute to set standards for security devices;

(iii)miscellaneous matters such as training, uniforms, identity cards, firearms, security checks, intruder alarms, transport of valuables and management capability.


The controlling legislation is a law of July, 1934, the purpose of which was to prohibit the setting up of private armies. A private security organisation has to obtain a Royal Decree before it may operate. Control is exercised by the Ministry of the Interior which can withdraw authorisation or impose new conditions. Day-to-day contact is through the judicial authorities including the gendarmerie and the police. Authorisations are granted for three or four years and renewals are granted only after an enquiry into an organisation’s activities.


The law, in the form of two decrees, came into force in July, 1974 replacing a decree of 1951. No private security organisations may operate without authorisation by the local authority (County Government Board) and the consent of the National Police Administration, which gives instructions on training, uniform and equipment. All staff, including directors, require authorisation. There is provision for appeal to the Central Government if authorisation is refused.

New Zealand

A 1974 Act provided for the licensing by a Registrar of Private Investigators to protect a person’s right to privacy against invasion, and of security guards, to ensure that they are fit and proper persons, and to regulate the conduct of business by private investigators and security guards. Security guards include persons who guard premises, install burglar alarms, warning devices, locking devices for a safe or strongroom or a camera for the purpose of preventing the commission of an offence, or enter premises to sell devices or to advise on security measures. In-house security staff are expressly excluded.

Persons applying for licences have to satisfy the Registrar that, by reason of their personal character, fitness and financial position, they are proper persons to hold licences. Companies have to satisfy the Registrar as to their financial position, the personal character and fitness of every officer of the company and the nature of their business (other than the business to which the application relates).

The police and any person may file a notice of objection to the grant of an application.

Licences are renewable annually.


The Private Investigators and Guard Services Law came into force in July, 1972. It is principally concerned with private investigators. Guard services are defined as ‘guard services as to the safety of an individual or property, including installation of alarm systems and other security devices and maintenance thereof’.

Annual licences are issued by a Committee appointed by the Minister of Justice who may also issue regulations on matters which include the ‘maximum fees for guards services’.


Of the 50 states, 28 regulate the private security industry and/or private detectives by statute. The other 22 states have no statutory control. The form and extent of control varies considerably and there is no typical legislation. The control exercised by the State of Ohio is more comprehensive than that in force in most states. Businesses are licensed and employees are approved and registered. Applicants are required to pass a written examination, to be a US citizen not less than 21 years old and to have had two years relevant experience. He or she must provide a photograph and fingerprints, and his criminal record is checked. He must have a good reputation for integrity and not be mentally defective. He must not have been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude in the past 20 years. The licence or registration is renewable annually. Other requirements are an insurance bond and special identity cards, badges and uniforms. Training is required in certain circumstances.


In all but one of the provinces, private security organisations and those of their employees who work as guards or watchmen are required by law to be licensed. A similar provision applies to private investigator agencies and those of their employees who work as private investigators. In the province without control, legislation is being drafted. The definition of security guard varies from ‘a person who, for hire or reward, guards or patrols for the purpose of protecting persons or property’ to ‘a person who acts as a guard or watchman’. A typical definition of a private investigator is ‘a person who investigates and furnishes information for hire or reward, including a person who:

(i)searches for and furnishes information as to the personal character or actions of a person, or the character or kind of business or occupation of a person, or

(ii)searches for offenders against the law, or

(iii)searches for missing persons or property’.

The main requirement is an annual licence. Other requirements, either in the Act or Regulations made under it, are in respect of identity cards, uniforms, minimum age of applicant, insurance bonds and advertising. Disclosure of previous convictions is required in application forms.