By Anthony Velly On

Security guards are a popular form of security in many different properties and environments. Other security measures such as CCTV systems are effective, but having a security guard means somebody can step in when a situation occurs. Working as a security guard is challenging and sometimes dangerous, but they can prevent many bad situations from happening with the proper training and mindset. 

Being a security guard comes with many responsibilities of different levels of threat. Sometimes, there is confusion over what a security guard is legally allowed to do. What is their duty, and what needs to be left to higher authorities?


Some main responsibilities of a security guard

Be a visible deterrent of crime

One of the most critical parts of being a security guard is always being visible whilst remaining as discrete as possible. Staying visible is one of the biggest deterrents to crime. For example, a shoplifter is far less likely to steal something from a shop if a security guard stands at the door. 

Always stay alert

Security guards always need to be on the lookout for potential risks; therefore, they must stay alert. Somebody with a short attention span, bad eyesight, or weak sense of smell won’t make for the best security guard. For example, they should detect the smell of a chemical leak and immediately let the right person know.

Remain calm and take action in a crisis

A security guard needs to know how to respond correctly to different situations, depending on the threat level. They need the mindset to remain calm whilst still acting fast. A lot of courage is required to be a security guard.

Remain observant

A security guards job is not over once an emergency is stopped. The guard must continue to stay observant, looking out for any suspicious behaviour at all times. After an incident does occur, they also must report back everything that happened to authorities. Therefore, they must have good memory alongside observing skills. 

Make sure procedures are followed

Following policies and rules is an essential part of the job. For example, they might have to check the ID of everyone entering the building or preventing photography in a particular area. Security guards need to make sure these rules are always followed by staff and the public.

Be there to help guests

Acting as a concierge is often part of a security guards job. This means they need to be friendly, approachable and helpful, whilst remaining professional and alert. Being there to help guests whilst staying observant of surroundings requires excellent attention to detail.

Communicate with authorities

In certain situations, the police should be contacted, as security guards only have a certain level of authority. Security guards need to acknowledge that they can’t act in the same way a police officer would.

Also, guards need to collect all information that higher authorities may need at a later date. For example, details that could identify a criminal. Even if a property has CCTV cameras, the identity of a criminal is not always clear, so a security guard’s skills can be a massive help.

Things a security guard legally has the right to do

Make an arrest

Security guards don’t actually have any more legal rights than a member of the public! A company just hires them to provide safety. Just like the public, guards can arrest if they have a good reason.

Under section 24s of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, everybody can arrest if:

  • Someone is committing an offence, or you have reasonable grounds for suspecting them to be committing an offence
  • Somebody is guilty of committing a crime, and you have reasonable grounds for suspecting they are guilty

Search suspicious unattended possessions

If a bag, or any other item, has been left unattended and the circumstances seem suspicious, then a security guard has the right to search these possessions. This is in the best interest of public safety.

Search an unconcious person to identify them

If somebody is unconscious and a security guard is trying to identify them, they can search the person for identification. This is in the best interest of the individual’s safety.

Refuse you entry

A security guard is legally allowed to refuse you entry to a premise if they have a good reason. For example, if they ask to search your bag and you refuse. This is a rule that the premise owners often set.

Things a security guard doesn’t legally have the right to do

Carry a weapon

No, remember that security guards have the same legal rights as a member of the public. Therefore, in the UK, they are not allowed to carry weapons such as guns or tasers. They are permitted to carry handcuffs but should always receive proper training to use them correctly.

Use excessive force

Just like members of the public, security guards are only legally allowed to use reasonable force. As per the Criminal Law Act 1967, guards can ”use as much force as is valid in the circumstances in preventing crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large. ”

Perform a search without your permission

Security guards cannot search you, your possessions, or your property, without your consent. If a security guard has arrested someone on suspicion of shoplifting, they must wait for the police to arrive to search the person.

If you have any questions regarding a security guards responsibilities or would like information about any other security systems, please get in touch with us, and we will be happy to help.