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Private Security in Australia: Trends and Key Characteristics

NCJ Number
Tim Prenzler; Karen Earle; Rick Sarre
Date Published
June 2009
6 pages
This paper examines the size and scope of the security industry in Australia, using national census data, and internationally.
Findings show that in Australia in 2006, there were 52,768 personnel employed full-time in the security industry, compared with 44,898 police personnel. In the previous decade, police had outnumbered private-security personnel. Both private-security and police organizations employ similar ratios of males to females (approximately 76 percent to 24 percent, respectively). Regarding personnel average age, however, private-security organizations employ an older age demographic than police. Police are more educated and receive higher pay than private-security personnel. Available data indicate there are just over 5,000 security and private investigative businesses registered in Australia; just over 110,000 private investigative licenses have been issued, mainly to individuals. Only five companies, however, compose nearly half of the security industry market share. Since the private-security sector is expected to continue to grow, especially given the increase in electronic surveillance, this paper argues for expanded and more precise data on the size and characteristics of the private-security industry. Data are needed to inform efforts to develop consistent national standards and licensing regimes. In a study of international trends in private security beyond the United States, de Waard (1999) estimated the size of the private-security industry in the then 15 countries of the European Union and 12 other countries. He estimated there were 592,050 security personnel in Europe in a population of 369 million (160 personnel per 100,000 population), compared to 375 police per 100,000. Studies in the United States show that the private-security industry has grown to a point that it has become a significant provider of crime prevention and law enforcement services. 2 tables, 2 figures, and 20 references