Following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s words during a meeting with over 4,000 private security officers at State House on 18th May 2016, the country embarked on a journey that has been 53 years in the making. Presidential assent to the Private Security Regulation Bill set the wheels in motion for the streamlining of one of the most lucrative sectors of the country’s economy. We’ve already looked at what this means for the mwananchi, but what impact will the bill have on the private security firms you have come to know and love? How does the Act affect us?
- Regulation and the Possible Thinning Effect:
“Lack of oversight for so many years has created an influx of ill-equipped firms that do not have the capacity to effectively provide security. The implementation of this Act will force these firms to bolster their service or have their licenses revoked. This will greatly improve the quality of service we offer.”–Securex Chief Executive Officer Tony Sahni, in an interview with Cipher Brief.
The rallying call from the President to private security firms countrywide has been clear since May: shape up or ship out. The Act sets out quality standards that all firms are required to meet prior to being granted registration. Some of the policies, such as that on minimum wage, have not been adhered to by all firms, leaving a large portion of the 400,000 private security officers without a sustainable means of upkeep. Firms that will not be able to clean up their act and toe the line may soon be forced to close down their operations as a result.
- Heavier Investment in Infrastructure:
The implementation of the Act will force some firms to redirect some of their capital towards upgrading their quality standards in certain aspects of their operation, chief among which is their training. Firms will now be required to train all their private security officers, either through their own training schools (for the privileged few) or through government-accredited training institutions. For firms, such as ourselves, who have been running our own world-class training school for quite a while now, we will still have to seek government accreditation as well. This is an addition to increasing guards’ salaries to satisfy the country’s minimum wage policy.
The side effect of course will be to the benefit of the general public. Better trained, equipped, and motivated private security officers will now be working hand in hand with state security to keep you safe around the clock.
- Improved Quality of Service to Clients:
The Private Security Regulatory Authority, established under Section 7 of the Act, is not only tasked with setting quality standards, but enforcing them as well. For us, that means we will be subjected to stringent quality control measures to ensure compliance with industry standards. With someone watching over us now, we have to be on our best behaviour!
We anticipate that the setting and enforcing of these standards will not only streamline the sector, but raise the general quality of service offered across the board. Clients, who in the past were subjected to poor service, should soon be able to see a marked improvement as their service provider will either have to shape up or ship out.
- Increased Interaction with Government:
The meeting between the President and the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union might have been the first in the country’s history, but we reckon it won’t be the last. From the look of things, the government will have security firms on a short leash going forward, but this is to the industry’s benefit. First off, the industry will enjoy adequate representation on the Board of the Private Security Regulatory Authority, sharing a platform with the Ministries of Interior, Finance, and Labour, as well as the National Police and National Intelligence Service.
Further to this, some firms, such as ourselves, have worked closely with law enforcement officials in the past in responding to criminal activity involving armed thugs or assisting us in securing valuable cargo in our Cash-In-Transit vehicles. Not only will this be enhanced, but under Section 45 of the Act, we can be called upon by the Inspector-General of Police to assist in securing the nation should the need arise.
Over the years, firms have grown accustomed to operating in the shadows, away from the public scrutiny and the lens of accountability, but all that is set to change. For instance, all firms, security guards, and management staff working in any private security firm will need to be registered, trained, and licensed to offer security services. Beyond this, the Authority will be required to publish the register of firms and the persons under their employ on their website for public consumption. This means the next time you’re looking to hire security, you could look up any potential service providers and see for yourself whether they are registered and licensed to operate.
Let’s go a step further. One of the quality control measures the Authority will be mandated to put in place is that of inspection, both routine and random. Once the Authority has hired, trained and licensed inspectors, they will be authorized to conduct spot checks on registered private security firms across the country.
Lastly, the Authority will also be mandated under Section 55 of the Act to set up a complaints desk which will act as a means of arbitration in the industry. The complaints desk is meant to mediate disputes between service providers and clients, and it’s authorised to mete out punitive measures, including fines, suspensions, or revocations of operating licences.