Comparing the policing and management of security in private/hybrid space in South Korea and the United Kingdom

  • Hyunho Kim

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is a comparative criminological study comparing the private policing and management of security of private/hybrid space in South Korea and United Kingdom. It is based upon two comparable shopping malls and draws upon thirty four semi-structured interviews of security officers, supervisors, managers and police officers; thirty nine structured interviews of security officers at both malls; one hundred structured interviews of shoppers at each mall; and one hundred hours of observation at each mall. Increasingly in both South Korea and the United Kingdom the public feel a greater need to protect themselves from crimes because of declining police resources. As a consequence the police are finding it difficult to meet the demands of the public and organisations in terms of crime prevention and the provision of a visible uniformed presence, amongst other. Society demands more effective public security control than what the government can offer. To better respond to these needs private security firms have filled the gap and areas of large private/hybrid space such as shopping malls have been one of the prime examples. However, there have been a few studies of the private security industry in such areas in the UK and in Korea and in no internationally comparative research conducted of shopping malls at all. This study starts to fill that gap by analysing the contribution of private security to the policing of of private space, which is open to the public in shopping malls of the two different countries. Secondly, the research explores and compares the systems of regulation, licensing, legal powers, training and working conditions, amongst others. Third the thesis explores real functions, statuses and image of private security officers and police officers, examining their daily operations, at the two case studies.
The research identifies a number of findings, particularly around the role and orientation of officers, noting a strong 'service men' culture amongst Korean officers, distinct from the United Kingdom officers who are more security and policing orientated. It also finds private security officers and their contribution are still considered unimportant by the public and this is linked to their governance, lack of legal power, poor level of training and low educational levels, although this did vary between the two countries. These issues also impact on the relationship with the police who in South Korea are less likely to entrust private security officers with policing work compared to the UK. This research also sheds light on the issues of private security industry regulation, legal powers, poor working conditions, the level of training and occupational risks and the research will hopefully contribute to the growth of comparative research on private security. Therefore, this thesis makes significant recommendations to improve the management of security in shopping mall as a great investment, better training, working conditions and regulation etc.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorMark Button (Supervisor) & Bob Golding (Supervisor)

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