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

police no longer providing alarm response services. In addition, private security has taken over the police functions of security of cash and valuables in transit, and the se­curing of public events. Private security personnel also undertake first-responder, pub­lic safety and crime prevention roles in the course of carrying out their work on client sites, such as conducting visual surveillance of the site (via either patrolling or overt CCTV monitoring), assisting in the recovery of stolen vehicles (including via automatic number plate recognition surveillance integrated with police systems), assisting in the apprehension of persons of interest,21 handing-over when responding to incidents re­quiring police presence, and providing witness statements in court.

Morrison also notes that significant growth in the personnel sector is the result of gov­ernment authorities (such as city and district councils) outsourcing compliance-type functions, such as noise, smoke and animal control, freedom camper by-law enforce­ment, parking enforcement, permit issuance, speed enforcement, and security func­tions that were hitherto provided in-house. Private security providers deliver security guarding, patrol and alarm response services to government buildings, military bases, hospitals, educational institutions, ports and critical infrastructure. The industry also provides security for specific central government agency activities, such as Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) 1080 poison drops, Department of Corrections prison escort and court custodial services,22 and the electronic monitoring of thousands of offenders serving community-based sentences and defendants on electronic bail.

Privatisation of public space

Heralded as “New Zealand’s first American-styled shopping centre”, Lynnmall opened in West Auckland on 30 October 1963. Since the 1960s, notes Walrond, “there has been a trend toward public life taking place on private property,23 with recent decades witness­ing what has been referred to as ‘spatial privatisation’ or the ‘mass privatisation’ or ‘terri­torialisation’ of public space, including the privatisation of public space ownership and management.24 Shopping malls, entertainment and lifestyle complexes, sporting and leisure centres and transport hubs are described as examples of ‘privately owned public spaces’ (POPS), ‘augmented’, ‘semi-‘ or ‘pseudo public space’.25 According to Wakefield, the expansion of mass private property environments in the UK and elsewhere is iden­tified by several researchers as a key factor in the growth of private security, “as property owners have recognised the commercial benefits of employing their own security forc­es.”26 Rice notes, for example, that shoppers “often say they feel safer [in malls] than on traditional shopping streets” due to being sheltered from the weather and protected by private security guards.27 University of Auckland researchers Alison Greenaway et al., note the increasing privatisation of public space management in Auckland through the use of private security guards “and the ‘cleaning up’ of public spaces”.28

Publics in the UK, Australia and New Zealand are spending increasing amounts of time in POPS like shopping centres to the extent that these sites have become the subject