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Rights and responsibilities of a security guard

Region: Ontario Answer # 6003

Individuals, businesses and organizations employ security guards (either self-employed or employed by security service companies) to protect both persons and property. These professional security service providers must follow a comprehensive set of laws and regulations.

The Private Security and Investigative Services Act, 2005 (PSISA) governs and regulates the private security industry in Ontario, and mandates the guidelines that security guards must follow, including:

  • Licensing requirements,
  • Code of Conduct, and
  • Complaint procedures and investigations

Under the PSISA, and through the Private Security and Investigative Services Branch (PSISB) within the Ministry of the Solicitor General, security personnel must receive training and be licensed, and adhere to requirements for security guard uniforms, identification, and record-keeping. For more detailed information, view other Private Security answers. If you require security services, such as corporate, business, and personal security, or you are interested in becoming a professional security guard, contact our preferred experts, Smith Security.

A security guard’s powers and responsibilities, including the use of force and citizen’s arrest can be found in the Criminal Code. The federal Firearms Act dictates under which circumstances a security guard can carry a firearm or other weapon.

What are the duties of a security guard?

A security guard is responsible for providing several security services. The Government of Canada National Occupational Classification (NOC) – Canada’s national system for describing occupations – lists the following most common duties a security guard performs:

  • Control access to establishments, operate security control-room equipment and patrol assigned areas to guard against theft, vandalism and fire.
  • Enforce regulations to maintain order and resolve conflicts and to monitor establishment activities.
  • Ensure safety and emergency procedures are followed.
  • Issue passes and direct visitors to appropriate areas and check age identification of patrons.

What can a security legally do when performing their duties?

The following is a summary of the actions a security guard can legally take while performing their duties.

Citizen’s Arrest

Under Section 494 of the Criminal Code, a security guard can make a lawful citizen’s arrest under certain circumstances:

Arrest without warrant by any person

  • 494(1) Any one may arrest without warrant
    • (a)a person whom he finds committing an indictable offence; or
    • (b)a person who, on reasonable grounds, he believes
      • (i)has committed a criminal offence, and
      • (ii)is escaping from and freshly pursued by persons who have lawful authority to arrest that person.

Arrest by owner, etc., of property

(2) The owner or a person in lawful possession of property, or a person authorized by the owner or by a person in lawful possession of property, may arrest a person without a warrant if they find them committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property and

  • (a)they make the arrest at that time; or
  • (b)they make the arrest within a reasonable time after the offence is committed and they believe on reasonable grounds that it is not feasible in the circumstances for a peace officer to make the arrest.

Detaining a person

As part of the citizen’s arrest, the security guard may detain the individual while immediately contacting the police to make a valid arrest.

Use of reasonable force

Security guards can use reasonable force to arrest and to detain someone until the police arrive if it is used to protect themselves, others, or property from harm. The use of force is determined to be reasonable based on the severity of the crime and the risk facing the guard and others.

Search

A security guard can search you and your belongings but only if they arrest you or if they have your consent.

Use of firearms and other weapons

As per the Firearms Act, security guards in Canada can only carry and use a firearm if it is issued by their employer. They must have a valid firearms licence and an Authorization to Carry issued by the federal government. While on duty they must carry and present these when requested.

Security guards may use a baton and handcuffs as part of their duties if the company they are employed by is licensed for this and the individual security guard is trained. A baton may only be used by security guards for defensive purposes.

The role of security guards and investigations

Security guards do have a role in security-related investigations and scene management. This can involve collecting, preserving, and handling evidence, and maintaining a chain of custody for preserving evidence within their capacity. For more information, view 6007 Evidence handling and chain of custody for security guards.

What can a security guard not do?

Security guards cannot discriminate against people based on their race, gender, age, religion, or other personal characteristics.

Security guards cannot violate an individual’s privacy rights or search them without their consent or a warrant.

Unless it is necessary for their job duties and they have received proper authorization, security guards cannot access or disclose confidential information.

Security guards do not have the same authority as police

It is important to know that while security guards have several rights and responsibilities when carrying out their duties, particularly during investigations, they do not have law enforcement authority. In situations requiring further investigation or legal authority, security guards should cooperate fully with law enforcement professionals such as the police.

Complaints

If you have a complaint about the conduct of a security guard you can:

  • Make a complaint with the security company that employs the security guard and/or the business that is employing the security company
  • File a complaint with the PSISB

For help

For help with security services, including corporate security, personal protection, construction site security and retail loss prevention, contact our preferred experts, Smith Security. If you are interested in becoming a professional security guard, they also offer a government approved security guard training course.


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