Securing Public Places: New Zealand’s Private Security Sector as a National Security Enabler

Author: Dynon, N.

Published in National Security Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2019

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In recent years, national security policy makers globally have grappled with the challenge of addressing the vulnerability of ‘public spaces’ to terror attack. In the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks, it’s a challenge that has gained sudden urgency in New Zealand. Faced with the numeric impossibility of protecting infinite public spaces within their jurisdictions, several states have enacted strategies to utilise the considerable ‘eyes and ears’ capability of their private security personnel sectors. While the harnessing of numerically superior private security guard forces presents opportunities for a more linked-up approach to protecting the public, there are also significant barriers. Despite their massive growth in recent decades, private security industries the world over struggle with issues – both real and perceived – around pay and conditions, training, standards and professionalism. With the UK and Australia already having taken steps towards public-private security partnerships, to what extent does New Zealand’s private security guarding sector constitute a potential national security force-multiplier?

Keywords: New Zealand, national security, counter-terrorism, crowded places, public spaces, private security, police, public-private partnership

In the post-9/11 context, the prevalence of terror attacks perpetrated in sporting stadia, shopping malls, city sidewalks, tourist hotspots and places of worship, has led to an increasing focus by security commentators and policy makers on locations where people congregate – ‘crowded places’ and ‘public spaces’ – as the attack venue of choice of terrorists and fixated persons. These notionally public spaces are often

1 Nicholas Dynon is Chief Editor of New Zealand Security Magazine and Line of Defence Magazine and Group Marketing Manager at Optic Security Group. He holds an M.A. (ANU), an M.IntS Hons (University of Sydney) and a Private Security (CC, PSG, PRG, PI, SC) Certificate of Approval (PSPLA). Contact