Canada has witnessed a huge surge in private security services and forces with more than 140,000 security guards employed in 2013. Although security guards have a duty to patrol and maintain a secure and safe environment, they do not have the same rights and responsibilities as police officers. This article will outline the rights and duties of a security guard in regards to arresting, searching and even banning people from your private property or business.
Ability to Arrest Offenders
Contrary to popular belief, security guards do not have any greater authority to arrest someone than an ordinary citizen. In short, security guards only have the right to make a citizen's arrest, which means that they can hold an individual until the police arrive. To make a citizen's arrest, the security guards must:
- Be authorized by the owner of the property to be in lawful possession of the property; and,
- Witness the criminal offence on the property.
The citizen's arrest must be made within a reasonable amount of time of the offence being committed. Under the law, the security guards can excise reasonable force when making a citizen's arrest; however, they are criminally responsible for any excess force that may have been used. Once the citizen's arrest has been made, the security guards are responsible for delivering the arrested individual to a police officer as soon as possible without any delay for the arrest to be legal; otherwise, the security guards may face civil or even criminal consequences.
When making a citizen's arrest, the security guards must:
- Identify themselves and their position as a security professional.
- Take physical custody of the person and also inform that person that he or she is under arrest.
- Provide a reasonable explanation regarding why the individual is being arrested and inform the individual of his or her legal rights.
A Right to Search a Suspect
Security guards only have a right to search a suspect after he or she has made a citizen's arrest or unless they have the person's permission. For example, you can employ security guards to search those who are entering your premise or business if you are hosting a concert or a sporting event to determine whether anyone is bringing in weapons, drugs or alcohol. The security guards are responsible for informing the suspect of the consequences involved with giving consent to a search.
The search can only be limited to a simple pat down or a quick search for any evidence that may relate to an arrest that is being made.
A Duty to Ban Offenders
If a person has been found breaking the rules of your property, security guards that you have employed have a right and a duty to ask the offender to leave the property or premise. If the offender refuses to leave, he or she is considered to be trespassing. If this is the case, the security guards have a right to use a reasonable amount of force to remove the trespasser from the property. Once again, security guards can be held civilly and criminally responsible for any excess force that is used.
Security guards do not have more rights than an ordinary citizen and must follow and comply with strict rules and laws. However, experienced security guards can easily help prevent criminal activities or prohibited activities from happening on your property, as they are trained to detect discrepancies and suspicious behavior. Experienced and trained security guards are also more skilled, and will be able to remove the offenders in a legal and professional manner that will mitigate any legal complications that may come your way.