Refugees landing on the Aegean Islands are taken to registration centres operated by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) the moment they land. Many are frightened that they will be sent back to Turkey, resulting in anger and sometimes violence. However, for the first time, a private security contractor, G4S, has been contracted to guard the centres and support the Greek police.
EASO spokesperson Jean-Pierre Schembri justified the use of private security. The centres have witnessed several riots, and staff have had to be evacuated quickly before things got ugly.
Today, terrorism is also causing worries across Europe, and this has given impetus to private security companies. Olivier Duran from SNES, a body that represents small security companies in France, stated that after a private security guard thwarted the bomb attack at Stade de France during the terrorist attacks in November 2015, more people are applying for security guard positions. These applicants are mostly immigrants who want to serve their adopted nation.
BSIA, the association for 450 British private security firms, believes that lower public funding across Europe is a boon for private security contractors. BSIA head James Kelly stated that austerity has increased the demand for private security personnel. The best example is G4S. The security contractor’s staff collect suspects who have been arrested by the police, take them into custody, and also process their paperwork. Kelly believes that it will not be long before private security contractors will be able to conduct arrests.
While co-operation between private security contractors and the police is not so common in other parts of Europe, indications show that it is on the rise. Private security guards are working alongside the police at Euro 2016 in France. Courts, public offices and ministries are now being guarded by private security firms, albeit under the supervision of a policeman. Duran believes that France’s ability to tackle terrorism will get a boost if the 15,000 private guards in the country were encouraged to become the eyes and ears for the police.
BSIA stated that it wants more regulations to help raise the standard of private security firms. This involves imparting more training to the guards. Kelly predicts that the private security industry will consolidate as firms such as Securitas and G4S look for savings in costs by increasing their productivity.