New rules allow guards to carry guns, make arrests : The Standard

Private Security Regulatory Authority Chief Executive Officer Fazul Mohammed inspects a parade formed by private security guards at their training academy in Nairobi, in January this year. [File, Standard]

New regulations that have already been adopted by the Government have given powers to private security guards to carry guns and arrest criminals. 

The regulations that were gazetted on Friday by Interior Affairs Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, will also see guards take upon formal police jobs such as quelling riots and getting involved in security work during elections.
The guards will be allowed to ride in armoured and rapid response vehicles. They will be allowed to blare sirens and flash warning lights on highways, an hitherto preserve of police and emergency service providers.
According to the gazette notice, the private guards will enjoy these privileges under the guidance of the Inspector General of Police (IG).
The rules that are in line with the Private Security Regulation Act 2016,  have also created the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) headed by Fazul Mohamed.
Freshly registered
The authority will be in charge of ensuring the guards comply with the new rules. To begin with, all private security firms that employ the guards must be freshly registered with PSRA within the first six months.
After that, PSRA will ensure that the guards undergo vetting and put on uniforms that do not resemble those worn by State security personnel.
According to the Government, the regulations have come in force in order to maintain law and order, handle national disasters and provide general expertise in the entire security sub-sector. 
“A request for cooperation under this law will be in writing and may entail calling and stationing the private security service providers for such duty in any place and for such period as it may be considered necessary,” the regulations partly read.
The move to allow the guards operate rapid response vehicles specifically is in line with the Government’s intention to remove police officers in Cash In Transit (CIT) work. 
In April, Dr Matiang’i told private security firms that the Government will withdraw armed police from CIT work beginning this month.
“Be ready to arm your guards because we will withdraw officers from some of these jobs like CIT,”  Matiang’i said.
“You will be in charge of the guns issued to you and any case of misuse will be punished.”
 The rules stipulate that a guard may arrest a person who is suspected to have committed an offence, and hand over that person to the nearest police station or post.
In carrying out that duty, they are expected to use non-violent means.
 “A private security service provider shall as far as is reasonably possible, use non-violent means in arresting any suspected offender and may only employ force when non-violent measures have failed to prevent escape,” the regulations read.
“The force used shall be proportional to the objective sought to be achieved, the seriousness of the offence and the resistance of the person against whom it is used.”
Under the guidance of PSRA, security firms will be expected to carry out vetting in order to authenticate a prospective employees’ character, employment history, residence and any other relevant information. 
“Every director, partner, trustee, administrator, management staff and employee of a private security provider shall be required to undergo such training within six months after gazettement of the regulations as shall be prescribed by the Authority,” the regulations say.
Standard curriculum
“PSRA shall prescribe a standard curriculum and assessment standards for private security training which shall be undertaken at every training institution.”
The rules also note that PSRA shall have supervisory powers over security training and assessment of persons employed in the private security industry. 
“The Authority will set standards, create an enforcing mechanism, improve personnel welfare and offer redress from unscrupulous players.”
According to the gazette notice, PSRA shall be governed by a board headed by a chairperson appointed by the President.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has already appointed Prof Stephen Ng’ang’a as the board chair.
Board membership includes Principal Secretaries from the State Departments of Interior, Treasury and Labour.
There will also be representatives from the private security industry association.
They will be joined by other representatives from the National Police Service, National Intelligence Service, Kenya National Private Security Workers Union (KNPSWU) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
KNPSWU officials welcomed the move even as they complained about the increasing number of attacks on private security guards.
“This is good news because the country is grappling with terrorism and armed robberies which put the lives of private guards at risk,” said Secretary General Isaac Andabwa.
“You cannot stop an armed robber with a rungu. Before these regulations, guards were exposed to more danger than soldiers serving in Somalia.”

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