Security and You Know Your Rights
About Security and You
The Role of Security
The Public's Rights
Complaint and Reporting Options
Useful Links
Resources

BC Human Rights Coalition

The information on this site is general information only Disclaimer

What Security Can and Cannot Do

The Role of Private Security in Public Places

What Security on Patrol Can and Cannot Do

Guards' Power to Enforce Rules

Guards' Powers of Arrest, Detention and Search

Other Rules and Regulations

Other Types of Security

Back to the Role of Security Page

Complaint and Reporting Options

The Role of Private Security in Public Places

Many public places, such as shopping malls, stores, and parking garages, have security guards patrolling and safeguarding property.

Security patrol guards are either employed in-house by property owners - such as at The Bay or Sears - or they are employed by security firms - such as Genesis or Concord Security.

Security firms contract out security services to private property owners. Contract security firms and the individual guards employed by them are licensed and regulated by BC law.

In-house guards (those employed directly by stores or other companies) are not currently regulated or licensed but will be by 2009.

Read more about licensing and regulations here.

Licensed guards are required to carry an ID card and a security license, and they must produce both on request.

If a licensed guard wears a uniform, the uniform must display the word "Security" and / or the words "Guard" or "Patrol".

Whether licensed or not, a patrol guard's role is to watch property and to enforce rules and service standards set by property owners.

Back to top Back to Top

Guards' Power to Enforce Rules (banning, warning or issuing citations)

All property belongs to someone. Private property owners can make rules about the use of their property including rules about unwanted activities and behaviours. "No loitering", "no shirt, no shoes, no service", "washrooms for customer use only", "no swearing", 'no pets allowed", "no access allowed", "no skate boarding" are typical examples or unwanted activities and behaviours.

So long as these rules are applied in a fair manner to all and don't discriminate on characteristics protected in human rights laws, a guard's responsibility is to ensure the property rules are respected and followed.

If you're following the rules and obeying the law, security cannot hassle you.

A guard can ask a person to leave property and they can ban someone from property if rules are broken. When doing so, guards should be professional and indicate which rule is being broken.

If someone refuses to leave property when asked, he/she may be viewed as a trespasser. Guards can use reasonable force to remove trespassers and they can make a citizen's arrest if a trespasser actively resists lawful efforts to remove them.

Trespassing: an offence under the provincial Trespass Act typically means 1) entering someone else's property, 2) engaging in prohibited activities on that property, or 3) not leaving after being told to do so.

Guards have no authority to arrest under the provincial Trespass Act.

Assault by Trespass: a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada typically means a trespasser who resists lawful efforts of removal.

Guards can conduct a citizen's arrest against a trespasser who actively resists efforts to have him/her removed from private property.

If you live in Vancouver, you're likely familiar with the Downtown Ambassadors. The Ambassadors are licensed security guards who patrol a 90-block area both on foot and by bike. They have the same powers as other guards listed here.

Security guards, whether licensed or not, have no authority to enforce the Safe Streets Act. This law prohibits panhandling when it causes people to fear for their safety and it prohibits panhandling in certain 'captive audience' locations.

Guards have no authority to tell people to move along when on public property and they have no authority to issue tickets in relation to panhandling. Only police can enforce this law.

View this Safe Streets information brochure for more detail and some practical tips.

Back to top Back to Top

Guards' Powers of Arrest, Detention and Search

Arrest:
Guards have no greater authority for arresting someone than an ordinary citizen.

To make a citizen's arrest, a guard must witness a criminal offence on or in relation to the property which they are authorized to protect (for example breaking and entering or vandalism). They may also make a citizen's arrest if they see someone run from a person who has authority to make an arrest, such as a police officer.

If a guard makes an arrest, they must:

  • Identify themselves as a security professional,
  • Take physical custody of the person,
  • Inform the person that he or she is under arrest,
  • Tell the person why they are being arrested,
  • Inform the person that he or she has the right to legal advice, and
  • Hand the person over to the police as soon after the arrest as possible.

Detention:
Guards cannot hold someone against his/her will unless the person is under arrest.

If a guard suspects that a crime was committed and wants to ask questions, they have no power to keep the person on the premises.

Search:
Guards have no greater authority to search someone than an ordinary citizen.

This means they cannot search someone without the person's permission (informed consent) or unless they have conducted a citizen's arrest. Informed consent means the person who gives permission knows the consequences of their decision. Informed consent can also be a requirement for gaining entry to a private event such as a rock concert or a sporting event.

In the event of a citizen's arrest, a search should be limited to a pat-down for weapons or for evidence that relates to the reason the person was arrested.

Back to top Back to Top

Other Rules and Regulations

Licensed security guards are not allowed to use or carry firearms, truncheons, billets. However, some security guards may be certified to carry handcuffs but not other restraining devices.They are also not allowed to use chemical spray or any other item designed or intended to debilitate or control a person.

Licensed guards should never hold themselves out to be Police, and licensed guards are required to produce an ID card and a security license when asked to do so.

If a licensed guard wears a uniform, the uniform must display the word "Security" and or the words "Guard" or "Patrol". Find out more about standards and regulations for licensed guards here .

Remember security cannot make an arrest, unless it's a citizen's arrest. Nor can security detain someone against his/her will unless the person is under arrest. If security suspects a crime has been committed and wants to conduct an investigation, they have no power to keep the person on the premises.

Security guards, whether licensed or not, have no authority to enforce the Safe Streets Act.

For more information about any of this section, you should contact a qualified criminal lawyer or one of the contact agencies listed here. You may also want to refer to various resource materials listed here.

Back to top Back to Top

Other Types of Security

Back to the Role of Security Page

Complaint and Reporting Options


©2007 SecurityAndYou.ca   Website designed by AMGmedia Works Inc.