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Crime Prevention, Partnership Policing and the Growth of Private Security: The South African Experience (From Policing in Central and Eastern Europe: Dilemmas of Contemporary Criminal Justice, P 66-90, 2004, Gorazd Mesko, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-207973)

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2004
25 pages

This paper profiles the outsourcing and privatization of policing in South Africa, along with cooperation between public and private police agencies.


By the late 1980’s, the private security industry in South Africa had expanded to such an extent that the government recognized the need for a greater degree of regulation and control over it. Consequently, in the late 1980’s, the Security Officer’s Act 92 was passed, which established the Security Officers’ Board (SOB) to deal with and control the career occupation of security officers and to maintain, promote, and protect the status of the security-officer occupation through mandates for registering security agencies and individual officers, setting minimum training standards, and enforcing regulations. Amendments were subsequently added, and the final piece of legislation on the regulation of the private security industry was passed in 2001, the Security Officers Amendment Act (104 of 1997). The act created the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA). Debates surrounding private policing have focused on the role of private security in assisting or even replacing the functions of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the national public policing agency. After 1994, the demands for improvement in SAPS service delivery led the SAPS to investigate possibilities for not only outsourcing but also privatization, i.e., contracting with specialist policing services and so-called partnership policing. Outsourcing involves the contracting out of certain services to either an external company or individual contractor. Among the more visible traditional public policing services now being performed by private agencies are responding to alarms, provision of closed circuit television services in central business districts, certain types of investigation services, security services at gated neighborhoods/enclosed areas and security villages, and vehicle security and tracking. The current focus is on developing an effective regulatory structure that will promote private policing as supplementary to and supportive of public policing. 66 notes

Date Published: September 1, 2004