The role of security guards that patrol property is to guard property and to enforce rules and service standards set by property owners. Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity, respect and within the confines of the law.
If you feel you have been unfairly treated, abused, or discriminated against by a security guard or a transit police officer, you have several options for making a complaint. Several of your options are outlined below.
In BC, most private security firms and the guards employed by them are licensed and regulated by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. The Ministry also provides a free public complaint process to help ensure adequate and appropriate accountability within the private security industry.
Visit this page for details about how to make a complaint to the Ministry about a licensed guard or the security firm they work for and what you can expect.
Not all security guards are currently regulated in BC although by 2009 many more will be. Unlicensed security guards are not subject to the same licensing and regulation process as licensed security guards. As a result, complaints about an unlicensed guard should be initiated by complaining directly to the guard's employer. Always try to speak directly with someone in authority, such as a manager or supervisor.
In Vancouver, the Transit Police Service provides policing on and around the public transit system. Transit police have the same authority as local police and wear a police uniform and insignia to distinguish them from security workers and to identify the scope of their authority.
Complaints about Transit Police can be made to The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC), which is the same office that handles complaints about municipal police.
Click here for details about how to make a complaint about a Transit Police Officer and what you can expect.
Public complaints processes, such as the one for licensed security workers or the one for transit police, are very important elements within larger regulatory frameworks. Complaints bring forward persistent issues and concerns and they help guide the creation of future public policy, standards and rules.
In addition to the public complaints processes, you have the option to file a private complaint directly with a security guard's employer, whether they are licensed or not.
In some cases, you may also have the option to file a civil suit and / or a complaint of discrimination about the treatment you receive from an unlicensed or licensed guard or a transit officer.
You may want to consider lodging a civil lawsuit against a guard for improper conduct. You should speak to a lawyer or contact one of the low cost legal services listed here.
Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver has done some exceptional work to ensure police accountability to the citizen's of the downtown east side of Vancouver. They plan to launch a small claims manual that may assist people in launching civil suits.
If you believe you have been discriminated against by a guard - whether they are licensed or not - or by a transit officer, you can get information about how to Complain About Discrimination here.
Regardless of which complaint option you choose, it will help to have a record of what happened. Write down the guard's name, who they work for, and their security license number if known. Try to write down these details as well:
Remember, it’s always easier to gather information when the situation is happening rather than later on.