Regulation of the private security industry in British Columbia

Dear Mr. Dosanjh:

I am writing to you on behalf of the BCCLA to request the government’s response to the recommendations in the report of the Commission of Inquiry, Policing in B.C. with respect to the regulation of the private security industry.

The Commissioner of the report, the Honourable Mr. Justice Wallace T. Oppal, set out a long list of recommendations for amendments to legislation covering the private security industry. To our knowledge, the government’s response has been limited to creating a training requirement for individuals wishing to be licensed as a security guard. This is a positive step. However, there are many recommendations that have not been implemented.

Private security personnel can have a significant impact on the freedoms and liberties of citizens. Security personnel often detain individuals, use physical force in dealing with individuals, undertake searches of property or persons and use covert surveillance to gather personal information about people. These actions implicate the Charter rights of individuals. Yet Charter protections for citizens against intrusions by private security personnel are not always available given their status as “non-governmental” actors. In the absence of Charter remedies, we believe that there is even greater reason for government to ensure that there is adequate training and accountability for private security personnel.

Our office receives complaints from individuals concerned about the conduct of security employees. Like most people, they have no idea of who to complain to about the conduct of licensed security employees or employers.

The problem of accountability is especially troubling in the case of “in-house” security personnel who are not required to be licenced at all under current legislation. To our knowledge there are many such employees.

The BCCLA has recently been contacted by the Main & Hastings Development Society regarding their concerns about the use of “security patrols” in Chinatown. We understand that their report has been sent to you.

Mr. Justice Oppal’s recommendations were made over three years ago. We write you now because a comprehensive response to the issue of regulation of private security is overdue.

We urge you to ensure adequate regulation of the growing private security industry to protect the rights and freedoms of British Columbians and look forward to your response regarding Mr. Justice Oppal’s recommendations.

Yours sincerely,
Kay Stockholder, President

cc: Henry C. Mathias, Director, Security Programs Division