World has more private security guards than police

GENEVA Thu Jul 7, 2011 1:35am IST

A man rides his bicycle past private security guards standing outside the main entrance to the Maruti Suzuki India Limited plant in Manesar, located in Haryana June 14, 2011. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

A man rides his bicycle past private security guards standing outside the main entrance to the Maruti Suzuki India Limited plant in Manesar, located in Haryana June 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi/Files

Related Topics

GENEVA (Reuters) - The private security industry is growing rapidly around the globe and employs twice as many people as governments have police officers, according to an authoritative report issued on Wednesday.

The documented 20 million security guards, representing an increase of between 200-300 per cent over the past two to three decades, form an industry whose rapid growth "has outpaced regulation and oversight mechanisms", it said.

Efforts at the international level to fill in regulatory gaps were at a very early stage, according to the Small Arms Survey, based on a review of 70 countries.

The survey is produced annually by a team of experts based at Geneva University's Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and tracks trade in the weaponry and moves to control it.

The latest edition puts the total trade in small weapons -- like handguns -- and light weapons -- which include mortars, grenade launchers, recoilless rifles and portable missiles and rockets -- as running at $7.1 billion a year.

It also says the trade in light weapons, which account for $1.1 billion of the total, "is significantly less transparent than the trade in other weapons, including small arms," saying only a fifth of it is officially recorded.

In 2008, the last year for which figures could be compiled, the United States, as in previous years, was both the top importer and top exporter of small and light weapons, according to the survey.

ITALY, GERMANY PROMINENT

As an exporter it was followed by Italy, Germany, Brazil and Switzerland, with Israel, Austria, South Korea, Belgium, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Norway and Canada also exporting this weaponry to a value of over $100 million a year each.

Behind the United States as importers at over $100 million annually were Canada, Britain, Germany, Australia, France and Pakistan, said the survey, which did not give a breakdown of each country's imports and exports.

"Despite evidence that some private security companies have engaged in the illegal acquisition of firearms, have lost weapons through theft, or have misused their arsenals, there is no systematic reporting of such misconduct," the report said.

Firms working in Iraq and Afghanistan had been equipped with fully automatic assault rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles and in some cases rocket-propelled grenade launchers, "raising questions about their stated defensive roles," it declared.

Overall, the private firms hold up to 3.7 million firearms worldwide, more if undeclared and illegally held weapons could be included, against 26 million held by police and 200 million by armed forces, according to the survey.

Outside of armed conflict settings, it said, private security companies in Latin America had the biggest arsenals with ratios of weapons per employee about 10 times higher than those for their counterparts in Europe.

(Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Peter Cooney)

FILED UNDER:
  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Sainthood

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Stake Sale Strike

Stake Sale Strike

Coal India trade unions call off strike in victory for Modi.  Full Article 

Markets Weekahead

Markets Weekahead

Ride the bull with a finger on the ejector button.  Full Article 

Arms Purchase

Arms Purchase

India approves $2.6 bln mounted gun purchase - official.  Full Article 

Indian Captain

Indian Captain

Team mates will determine success of my captaincy - Kohli.  Full Article 

Interview with Bulgari CEO

Interview: Bulgari CEO

Bulgari CEO: we shouldn’t have left India so we’re back  Full Article 

Formula One

Formula One

Hamilton takes second F1 title in style.  Full Article 

Available For Remake

Available For Remake

Bollywood finally wants to pay the price for remakes  Full Article 

Davis Cup

Davis Cup

Vintage Federer seals first Davis Cup for Switzerland.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Happy Ending" is old wine in an older bottle  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage