2006-11-24 : Public 'has more faith in security guards'

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2006-11-24 : Public 'has more faith in security guards'

Postby GOSA » Thu, 2006-11-30 12:09

Public 'has more faith in security guards'

November 24 2006 at 11:20AM

By Nathi Olifant

More South Africans place their trust in private security guards than in the police, according to new research.

Professors Johan Prinsloo and Coen Marais of the University of South Africa's department of criminology said in their study that a "huge gap" existed between the police and the private security industry, with the security industry scoring "more efficiency points" than police.

It had become increasingly clear that members of the public were more likely to come into contact with a private security officer than a member of the South African Police Service.

better able to respond to public requests The authors also pointed out that security officers were generally better able to respond to public requests for assistance than police.

The survey respondents were asked to give their perception of the police's crime control function and the services provided by the private security industry.

"We found that in the public's opinion, the security industry was more efficient in their crime control duties than the South African Police Service," said Marais.

Marais said 36 percent of respondents rated the performance of the South African Police Service as "fairly good", while only 17 percent thought them to be "very good". Twenty three percent rated police efficiency as "fairly poor", with 24 percent saying "very poor". The efficiency of security officials in controlling crime was rated as "very good" by 28 percent and "fairly good" by 43 percent of the respondents.

Marais said an overwhelming 80,7 percent of respondents believed it was a "good thing" that the private security industry was increasingly taking up certain policing and public protection functions previously entrusted to the state police. About 3 percent of the respondents were undecided about this situation and 15,6 percent found this to be a negative development.

'Security industry was more efficient in their crime control duties' Prinsloo said it is argued that in a constitutional democracy, security is a "public good".

In this context, he said, the private security industry was therefore "not a mere provider of security services within a private market context", but bore a specific public responsibility and constitutional obligation in terms of citizens' democratic right to equal protection and benefit of the law and "to have dignity respected and protected".

Marais said the public as consumers of security services were the best qualified to evaluate such services.

Prinsloo and Marais believe there should be limits to the level of "privatisation of the security function".

This needs to be balanced, they say, between the public's right to safety and the state's inability to meet certain standards of security.

o This article was originally published on page 7 of Cape Times on November 24, 2006
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