Private security and its contribution to policing: under-researched, under-utilised and underestimated

Mark Button*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Policing has become increasingly associated with what the police do by academics, practitioners and policy makers. Yet there is a wide range of individuals and organisations, other than the police, engaged in policing. These include other public bodies such as Customs and Excise, trading standards officers, vigilantes and private security firms to name a few. One of the most significant of these is the latter. This paper assesses the contribution of private security to policing by analysing some of the main activities undertaken and comparing them to those pursued by the police. It also argues that private security is under-researched in comparison to the police, particularly given the significant roles that are undertaken. It also argues private security is under-utilised in its potential contribution to policing and crime prevention. Finally, the paper considers how private security is often underestimated when some of the potential causes for concern are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-116
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Police Science and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 1999

Cite this