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

In the absence of political appetite to legislatively tighten the licensing regime, govern­ment procurement is emerging in New Zealand as a non-legislative model of standards setting. It is not uncommon, for example, for Requests for Tenders/Proposals to require tenderers to hold NZSA membership, which provides assurance that at least the pro­vider is aware of and ‘signed up to’ to the NZSA Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct. But this falls short of requiring providers to hold the higher ‘accredited member’ status, which is an elective form of NZSA membership that subjects a provider to auditing against sector-specific Codes of Practice.66 Morrison notes that in the context of the re­drafting of the Government Procurement Rules (4th ed.), recent engagement between the NZSA and MBIE has focused on improving employment practices in the industry as opposed to professional standards. This has led to talk of implementing an ‘approved supplier list’ requiring a supplier to be an accredited member of the NZSA and meet additional employment conditions-related evidentiary requirements. Such an approach would bear similarities to the Approved Contractor Scheme referred to by Bradley, which is described as a ‘meta-governance’ model that could supplement and reinforce the existing regulatory foundation provided by the PSPPI Act “while compensating for some of its weaknesses”.

According to Morrison, however, although MBIE’s employment conditions focus is a positive step, it also represents a missed opportunity. In particular, an NZSA recom­mendation to MBIE that the Government Protective Security Requirements (PSR) be highlighted as a component of the Government’s procurement of security services has failed to receive traction. The role of the state in procurement-led approaches to stan­dards setting within the industry is perhaps further undermined by the fact that many of the providers listed on relevant government procurement panels (i.e. the ICT Securi­ty and Related Services Panel and Protective Security Services Sub-Panel) are not hold­ers of security licenses. “You have IT security consultants advising government who are not licensed,” states Thorburn. “They are not going through the same criteria that the law was intended for. Government must lead by example.” In summary, there exists significant room for the state to take a more proactive role in raising basic standards – by either a legislative or procurement-led approach.


New Zealand’s 20,000-strong private security personnel sector is a potential national security enabler that remains largely untapped. The sector contributes to the security of New Zealanders in the various roles it performs for public and private sector clients, and it does so successfully despite issues around pay, skills and standards. Security guards are more voluminous and ubiquitous than beat police and they effect surveillance and public order functions in most of the places where members of the public choose to congregate. Yet the private security industry does not feature in the National Security System, it is absent from national security planning, and there exists not a single