Australian Institute of Criminology

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Private security personnel now outnumber police

Media Release

20 July 2009

The long-term trend towards the adoption of private security in Australia has seen the number of security personnel exceed the number of police.

According to a paper released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology, a 2006 study showed private security personnel in Australia outnumbered police with 266 security personnel per 100,000 people compared with 226 police.

The Private security in Australia: trends and key characteristics paper drew comparisons between the private security industry and police to gather information about the rapidly growing industry.

AIC General Manager, Research, Dr Judy Putt, said there were 52,768 personnel employed full-time in the security industry compared with 44,898 police in 2006, whereas a decade previously police had outnumbered security.

"The paper found that 93 percent of police are employed on a full time basis while only 74 percent of security providers are full-time employees," Dr Putt said.

"Security providers were found to be less likely to have completed higher education than their policing counterparts. They also earned lower salaries and were more likely to be employed on a part time basis."

The male-to-female ratio in both sectors was similar (around 77% male and 23% female) but security personnel occupied an older age demographic with 60 percent of security between 20 and 44, while the age for police was more concentrated in the 30 to 39 year range.

"The security sector consists of a large number of small businesses and a small number of very large businesses with the large sector characterised by a high degree of foreign ownership," Dr Putt said.

"Australian licensing agencies reported there were 114,000 security licensees in 2008 with each jurisdiction having its own license categories. National consistency in licensing would help to address issues around regulation and the relationship between security and police."

To view this paper go to www.aic.gov.au

AIC media contact: Caterina Giugovaz. Telephone: 02 6260 9226; Mobile: 0418 159 525.