U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

From Mercenaries to Private Security Companies: Legitimatory Practices of Commercial Private

NCJ Number
Deviance et societe Volume: 37 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2013 Pages: 487-508
Cyril Magnon-Pujo
Date Published
December 2013
22 pages
This article identifies policy issues raised by the increasing use of private security firms that can use various levels of physical force in the performance of assigned protective duties.
Under contract to private firms, governments, or international organizations, the term "mercenary' would be an appropriate label for private security forces. Under the traditional concept that has viewed the state as having a monopoly on the use of force in law enforcement, "mercenaries" were viewed as paid enforcers of the will of illegitimate enterprises that were often in revolt against the state. The proliferation of private security firms paid by governments or private enterprises to perform contractual duties is currently viewed as legitimate, so long as private security supplements and cooperates with security forces employed by the state. Still, such a sharing of security functions formerly relegated only to the state has potential for problems in accountability, consistency, training quality, and performance measures. (From an English summary)