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

perceived as not requiring a high skills base or level of training.”42 The security industry is not widely viewed as a career option of choice, and ultimately neither does it tend to be regarded an actual career. According to Couper and O’Donnell, private security is “not seen as a profession in New Zealand at all despite the fact that it is in many oth­er jurisdictions.”43 ASIS NZ’s Andrew Thorburn argues that this needs to change. “We need to show people that there is a pathway from being a security telephony operator to a static officer to a mobile patrol officer and to a supervisor and manager, and perhaps recruitment to the police or military.”44

Under the PSPPI Act, all companies and workers in the security industry must hold ap­propriate licences as evidence of meeting fit and proper requirements, but those require­ments are widely seen as constituting a very low barrier to entry. Couper and O’Donnell comment that the security licensing regime “brought us nothing apart from a 40-hour requirement for mandatory training for door controllers and security officers” and no other requirement for training.45 These 40 hours equate to three NZQA unit standards which, they point out, represent a small proportion of the units that constitute the Na­tional Certificate in Security (Level 2)] Lawton concurs that the mandatory training requirement is insufficient, covering only basic security law and conflict resolution, and should be viewed as a minimum. Lawton makes the comparison that mandatory train­ing in Australia covers the majority of the content of the National Certificate in Security (Level 2)).46 Mandatory training, according to Morrison, provides security personnel “with the bare minimum to give them the ability to go and start working safely with a minimum degree of knowledge that would be built up from there.” Thorburn believes that mandatory licensing and mandatory training has not had the positive impact it was intended to have, nor has it resulted in more capable security officers, nor mitigated the risk of injury to them.

According to Morrison, only 15% of security guards go on to NZQA qualifications be­yond mandatory training (i.e. National Certificate in Security (Level 2) or above). The E tu union, which represents workers in the security sector, has pushed for some time for a collective agreement to improve wages and include free Level 2 training in the first year of employment, but its overtures to providers have fallen flat. Some providers have looked to pass the ‘living wage’ to their employees and to offer Level 2 as part of an en­hanced induction training programme, but in many cases such moves are client-specific (i.e. passed onto only those employees working within certain contracts that require it) rather than across the board. Couper and O’Donnell also believe that appropriate training is lacking beyond the entry level. “The only real training that’s going on is man­datory training and little tiny pockets of other training, such as the CPP and PSP ASIS accreditations.”47 While a National Diploma in Security (Level 6) exists, there is virtually no up-take of this qualification.

The problem, as described by the NZQA, is that the industry is “a competitive and price-sensitive environment with a high staff turnover”48 of mainly part-timers, often