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

Examining the current state of public-private cooperation in security matters in New Zealand, this paper explores the potential for the harnessing of the non-government security sector as a counter-terror force multiplier.

A Public-Private Security Continuum

National security

According to New Zealand’s National Security System Handbook, “National security is the condition which permits the citizens of a state to go about their daily business con­fidently free from fear and able to make the most of opportunities to advance their way of life. It encompasses the preparedness, protection and preservation of people, and of property and information, both tangible and intangible.”3 Following from this definition, both the Handbook and the New Zealand Defence White Paper 2016 list ‘seven overarching national security objectives’, from preserving sovereignty and territorial in­tegrity, to protecting lines of communication, to public order and protecting the safety of citizens and communities.4

The wide-ranging definition of national security employed by both documents flows from the 2001 Cabinet decision that New Zealand take an “all hazards – all risks” ap­proach to national security.5 According to the 2016 Controller and Auditor-General report Governance of the National Security System, this approach “means that the [Na­tional Security] System includes all risks to national security, whether internal or ex­ternal, human or natural”.6 Incorporating elements of both ‘national security’, which is traditionally seen as ‘outward facing’ and domestically-focused ‘homeland security’, this all-embracing notion of national security can also be understood in terms of the concept of ‘human security’, which shifts security away from its traditional focus on the state to a focus on people.7

New Zealand’s capacity to deal with the full range of national security challenges, acknowledges the National Security System Handbook, requires a system “able to leverage partnerships between government agencies, local government, private companies, and individuals.” Indeed, the 2012 Formal Review of the New Zealand Police by Treasury, State Services Commission (SSC) and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) acknowledges the role of private security firms in “providing a first response capability and contributing to the safety of New Zealand communities.” Such recogni­tion, however, is largely platitudinal. In reality, the private security industry is given no place in the National Security System, and industry peak bodies, such as the New Zea­land Security Association (NZSA), are not engaged by police or relevant government agencies on matters of security planning despite efforts to achieve cut-through. The lack of a published national security or counter-terrorism strategy, as noted by Azizian and Rothery8 – let alone one that acknowledges any role for the private security sector