Security guards will soon have powers to arrest, search without warrant

Private security guards will soon have the power to arrest and search citizens suspected of committing offenses should new regulations be enacted by Parliament.

They will also be at liberty to use force when arresting an offender where non-violent measures have failed or to prevent escape.

The Private Security (General) regulations, 2024 introduced before a House team yesterday seek to empower guards to have authority akin to that of the police but limited to the confines of their work places.

The regulations also seeks to review upwards the minimum wage of private service security providers and introduce a raft of measures to regulate the sector.

“Pursuant to section 46 of the Private Security Regulations Act, 2016 a private service security provider may arrest a person who is suspected to have committee an offence and immediately hand over the person to the nearest police station or post,” reads the regulations in part.

“The force used shall be proportional to the objective sought to be achieved, the seriousness of the offence and the resistance of the person against whom it is used.”

According to the regulations tabled by Interior and National and Administration Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo, private security guards will be required to seek reinforcement from colleagues or a police officer upon arrest of a suspected offender.

The guard will then accompany the arrested person to the nearest police station together with any material that may be connected with the arrest, hand the suspected perpetrator over and record and sign a statement explaining the circumstances and reasons for the arrest.

The guard may also conduct a body search, bag search, or vehicle search without a warrant on entry or exit of a building or property. The search may be in form of a daily routine, a random check or an intelligence search based on some pre-known information.

“Every search shall be conducted in the presence of at least two officers and where a search involves touching of the person, it shall be conducted by an officer of the same sex,” the regulations further state.

Moreover, the private security gyard will have the power to search property left unattended in suspicious circumstances and conduct patrols and response services.

They will however be required to notify the National Police Service of the relevant division the specific geographical area where the patrol is to take place as well as the targeted premises (if any) and the number of officers involved in the patrol and response.

And to ensure compliance, companies seeking to offer private security services should be registered with the Private Security Regulatory Authority failure to which they will be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh2 million.

Individuals offering private security services without having registered with the authority commit an offence and are liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

PS Omollo, who was appearing before the National Assembly Administration and Internal Security Committee, was however not explicit on whether private security guards would be issued with tools and equipment such as handcuffs to aid arrest of offenders.

“The private security guards will draw the right to arrest people from the Constitution just as it guarantees that any Kenyan can arrest an offender and hand them over to the police,” he said.

Homa Bay Town MP peter Kaluma however, told the PS to explain the measures that would be put in place to ensure the private guards do not abuse their power and why, despite the national police force having set up a critical infrastructure unit, the Judiciary was being guarded by private security costing tax payers billions.

To which he responded, “It is true we set up a critical infrastructure unit and a conversation with the Judiciary is important so that we can consider having the police as opposed to the private security stationed there.”

“The regulations also propose strict penalties for those abusing the power of arrest. Even in practice of their power, the private security officers are still viable for arrest by our national police,” he added.

Private Security Regulatory Authority Chief Executive Officer Fazul Mahamed who also appeared before the House team decried the poor pay of private security officers by their contracting companies, noting that the regulations once implemented would cure this.

“Some security firms earn millions but the actual service provider is paid Sh10,000 and this is what we are trying to change. We want to ensure that the minimum wage issue of the security guards is addressed and this will be done through capacity building. We aim to bring dignity and honour in the private sector industry,” he said.