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Police must improve their oversight of the private security sector

Need for clarity in division of labour and legislation
 
Deputy-Ombudsman Jussi Pajuoja takes the view that the police must devote resources to overseeing the private security sector, which has been growing in recent years. Legislation regulating the sector and the division of labour between the police and private actors likewise need clarification.

According to a memorandum drafted by the National Police Board, about 100 arrest and detention facilities have been built in shopping centres since the late 1990s. It is noted in the memorandum that both practical and legal problems are associated with the matter.

Acting on his own initiative, Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja examined how the police have viewed these problems and what measures they intend to take to improve the situation.
 
The law gives guards and security persons responsible for public order the right to apprehend persons, but not to keep them in custody. A person who has been apprehended must be handed over to the police without delay. Problems arise especially when it takes time for the police to arrive and the person who has been apprehended is aggressive.

No illegal detentions revealed

The police had been notified of slightly over a hundred persons having been apprehended. By contrast, they did not have verified information that persons had been held in custody, at least not in recent years. Unclear cases had gone no further than a decision not to prosecute.

The National Police Board took the view in its statement that in any case oversight of and training for actors in the private security sector needs to be tightened up. In fact, this has been done since examination of the matter began.

Legislation needs to be clarified

In Deputy-Ombudsman Pajuoja's opinion, the legal provisions regulating the sector are not sufficiently clear and even the authorities present different views of the situation. In addition, citizens should be able to know what the powers of the private security sector are.

The legislation concerning the private security sector is currently being explicated.

"What needs to be gone through in that conjunction is, for example, the division of labour between the police and private actors.  A clear demarcation with detention in custody is also needed," says the Deputy-Ombudsman.

Additional info will be provided by Senior Legal Adviser Juha Haapamäki, tel. +358(0)9 432 3334.