Private firms critical to homeland security
- A deliberate close working relationship between national security organs and private security managers and leaders is critical.
- Only qualified and licensed players should be allowed to operate. Hopefully, proper vetting and standardisation will be made the hallmarks of quality.
The provision of private security as a critical element within the national security architecture is no longer an abstract idea but a stark reality in pursuit of global and national interests.
The contention is whether provision of national (interior) security, commonly known as “homeland security”, remains the sole responsibility of State (public) actors or should become a shared responsibility with non-state (private) actors.
Granted, national security organs are responsible for homeland security to fulfil the State’s duty of care in protection of life and property, towards overall preservation of national interests.
However, those organs alone cannot be responsible for all aspects of the ever-mutating socioeconomic security challenges.
The nature of some of the challenges, like cybercrime and terrorism, leaves state actors with no choice but to collaborate with and exploit market technology and manpower capabilities of non-state actors to deal with them.
The key non-state actors are private security providers, whose contribution, particularly to economic security interests, an essential component of homeland security, is critical.
Collaboration between national security organs and the private security providers has been formalised by the enactment of the Private Security Regulation Act 2016 and the Private Security (General) Regulations 2017, driven by the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA).
The PSRA’s core mandate is to regulate the private security industry, where the Protective and Safety Association of Kenya (Prosak), which ensures professionalism in corporate security, is a major player.
At a recent two-day high-level Prosak conference in Nairobi bringing together private security luminaries and stakeholders, the common thread across the presentations was that private security providers are key partners in the provision of homeland security.
This was underscored by the fact that the major criminal incidents targeted private enterprises — the terrorist attacks on Paradise Hotel, Westgate and DusitD2, as well as several bank heists.
A deliberate close working relationship between national security organs and private security managers and leaders, who are the first responders to such emergencies, is critical.
Also, the ongoing reforms in the National Police Service will see some non-core policing duties, such as cash-in-transit escorts, VIP protection and guarding of private establishments, left to private security providers soon.
But all is not well. Private security being a lucrative business, the field has attracted players with dubious credentials who variously present themselves as security experts and consultants. Besides, training is not standardised across the industry.
Only qualified, registered, licensed and accredited players should be allowed to operate. Hopefully, proper vetting and standardisation will be made the hallmarks of quality and value in the management and service delivery.
With the desire to entrench professionalism and nurture public-private collaborative and partnership initiatives, it should be worth our while. And the PSRA should engage with all the stakeholders.
Mr Mwangi, a law enforcement and security management consultant, is lead partner at Edge Trainers & Consultants;