The law "On security guard activities" has come into force in Ukraine. According to the law, security guards are allowed to wear bulletproof vest and helmets, to use batons and to have service dogs. Ordinary citizens have not appreciated much the innovation. Many people fear that 'people with walkie-talkies' will be all mighty and will violate the rights of customers with impunity.

In turn, Interior Ministry has assured dutifully that the control over the activities of private security firms will be toughened. "We have been monitoring he activities of private firms and keep doing this," Ministry's representatives assure and note that in case of violations offenders will bear responsibility, including deprivation of licenses. The Ministry also assures that private firms will have the right to use non-lethal weapons only of much lower potency than those used by law enforcements.

Meanwhile, president of the Ukrainian Security Professionals Federation Serhiy Shabovta said in the interview with KP in Ukraine that the use of non-lethal weapons is unacceptable in public places, and that only companies having central security console can get weapons. He also underlined that in the near future the guards won’t get weapons, as the law only stipulates the right for possessing weapons, but not the order of application. The order will be determined by the Cabinet.

ForUm has asked law enforcement officers, MPs and sociologists whether this law may result into abuse of power by security guards and why the rights of private security firms have been extended in the first place.

Vitaly Yarema, lieutenant general of police forces, former head of the Main department of Interior Ministry in Kyiv (2005-2010):

- All we need is to work out proper mechanism of application of this law. If there is tough control by Interior Ministry, everything is going to be fine. I don't see any threat to public safety or citizens' lives.

Moreover, I believe that police forces should stop carrying out guarding services. According to the statistics, there are too many police officers per capita, because there are too many security guards who are considered police officers. And it turns out that we have many police officers, but the clear-up rate is low, because only few are engaged into crime investigation - 40 cases per one investigator.

All kinds of security guard activity, including guarding private persons, apartments and property, must be transferred to the competence of private structures. Let them earn their money, and police forces will do their direct duties.

However, we should set a tough control over the admission process to security guard structures. People applying for this job must be checked by law enforcement bodies for criminal past. Security guards must undergo thorough medical examination so that mentally sick people do not end with a weapon.  Moreover, security guards must attend special training course, and the responsibility for illegal actions must be very serious.  If everything is done as said above there will be no risks.

Vasyl Hrytsak, a member of the parliamentary committee on legislative provision of law enforcement activity:

- Ordinary security guards in supermarkets will not be given traumatic weapon and special equipment. Only workers of licensed structures, who underwent proper training and got a certificate, will have the right to carry traumatic weapon, handcuffs, batons, etc.

At the same time, we need at least 15 specialized centers for training professional guards. For the moment, we have only two - academies of state guard department of Interior Ministry in Rivne and Vinnitsa. Professional training will ensure order in private object with big attendance. Professionals will not abuse the power and violate the norms.

Valery Bevz, lieutenant general of police forces, MP, head of the parliamentary committee on fight against organized crime and corruption:

- This is an eternal problem - to give or not to give the weapon, and if to give then what kind of weapon. Imagine, now we have 400 thousand law enforcement offices and 800 thousand officers in private security guard structures. This is one million 200 thousand people. Don't you think it is dangerous to arm them all?

We have more than a million of registered firearms, including 85 thousand of rifled guns and short rifles. Imagine just how many fully composed and deployed troops it makes!

We also need to check the ability of security guards to perform their duties, to be psychologically stable, etc. Moreover, we must revise all issued licenses for security guard activities, to check the readiness and ability of this or that firm to perform its duty, to check the quality of staff. 

I believe offensive defense means should be used only on specific objects, where the use of weapons is necessary. In fact, weapon is not the most important thing for security guards, but their professional level is.

Yuri Kazmazin, first deputy head of the parliamentary committee on justice:

- The law has come into force, but the order of application must be yet determined by the government. Citizens can stay quiet for the moment.

In the whole world, banking structures are guarded by private security firms, which workers are usually armed. This is a normal practice. What is not normal is to keep 'people with stars' as simple guards and to pension them off in 20 years as a serious law enforcement officer.

Another question is that the state must control private guards. Thus, if private security guards are given broader authorities they must pass serious exams.

Vitaly Kulik, director of the Research Center for civil society problems study:

- It looks like the law is called to simplify the life of private security guard structures, including supermarket guards. It's not a secret that even before the guards dared to do unacceptable things, rudeness, etc. And there is no surprise in this, as trade centers underpay them on purpose for the guards to be 'angrier' and more demanding to customers.

However, I want to remind that according to the new law it is still prohibited to apply force to women 'with visible signs of pregnancy', to old people, to minors and to people with 'visible signs of disabilities', as well as to people of special status, judges or MPs for example (except for the cases of direct attack). Moreover, harm to health of an offender must be minimal. And if an injury occurs, security guards must call ambulance and render fist aid.

Customers' rights have narrowed in favor of security guards, but have not been nullified. We should remember this and know how to use it.

Ruslan Pavlenko, political scientist:

- Now, ordinary citizens must remember their rights better. In particular, a customer has a right not to show budget, a right to call the police, to demand proofs (like video registration), as well as to register the conversation on a voice recorder or a phone camera. If a customer does have unpaid goods he can pay for it immediately or to wait for the police for further investigation. Customers should also remember that there are no fines guards can scare them with. Moreover, guards have no right to confiscate personal things, including the phone (even if you are registering the conversation).

Volodymyr Oliynyk, first deputy head of the parliamentary committee on legislative provision of law enforcement activity:

- Ordinary citizens can acquire traumatic weapon without difficulties. Here is the question: why could not security guard structures use traumatic weapons as well? I want to draw your attention to the fact that, according to the law, it will be not so easy to obtain the right for possession of traumatic weapons. Applicants will have to provide a license and to prove qualification. Moreover, Interior Ministry departments will monitor the process. Every claim of a citizen about illegal use of weapon against him will be investigated by the prosecutor's office and Interior Ministry. If a crime is confirmed, the private firm in question will be deprived of the license for possession of traumatic weapons.  Under such conditions, authorities of private security firms will better control their workers, as the right for possession of weapons gives them an advantage on the market of security services.


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