Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Code of Conduct for Security Guards

Most people don't even know it, but in 2009 the British Columbia government introduced a Code of Conduct for security guards.  It was put into the Security Services Act Regulations, in section 14.

A large part of the reason the government decided to inroduce the Code of Conduct was pressure from a number of civil liberties and poverty advocacy groups.  They have complained that private security guards have too much power to kick people off property for trespassing, and that they use this in a biased manner that targets the poor and disadvantaged.  There were also allegations of security guards being overly aggressive with "street people" and similar complaints.  So, this Code of Conduct was developed.

Now, everyone in BC who has a security licence is bound by this Code of Conduct.  People who violate provisions of the Code could face disciplinary action from the government inspectors appointed by the Ministry of Public Safety.

The Code , as contained in section 14 of the Regulation, iis as follows:

The registrar may impose on a licence to engage in any type of security work the condition that

(a) the licensee, or
(b) if the licensee is a business entity, every individual about whom the business entity made a disclosure under section 13 of the Act,

while engaged in security work or carrying on the security business,

(c) must act with honesty and integrity,

(d) must respect and use all property and equipment in accordance with the conditions of his or her licence,

(e) must comply with all federal, provincial and municipal laws,

(f) must treat all persons equally, without discrimination based on a person's race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, age or economic or social status,

(g) must not use profane, abusive or insulting language or actions,

(h) must not use unnecessary force,

(i) must not engage in behaviour that is prohibited by law,

(j) must respect the privacy of others by complying with privacy legislation and treating all information received while working as confidential, unless disclosure is required as part of such work or by law,

(k) must cooperate with police if it is required by law,

(l) must not be unfit for duty, while working, through consumption of alcohol or drugs,

(m) must not conspire with another person or aid or abet another licensee to contravene a provision of the Act or this regulation or a condition of a licence,

(n) must not wilfully or negligently make a false statement or false complaint, and

(o) must not misrepresent to any person the type or conditions of his or her licence or the nature of his or her authority under the law.

One should take special notice of paragraph (f).  It forbids discriminating against people for social or economic status.  So, this would mean it could possibly be considered a violation of the Code of Conduct to kick people off property simply because they are poor or unemployed, or because it looks like they might be.  It's not clear whether this would do away with "no loitering" rules.

You might be able to save a "no loitering" rule but only if you showed that you enforced it against everyone, not just people who are poor or homeless.  Otherwise, it could give rise to a complaint that you were targetting people based on socio-economic status.

This law no longer applies to me since I've moved to the Yukon.  The law here does not create any Code of Conduct for security.  Actually, in the Yukon, the law doesn't require me to even have a licence.  That's because I work in-house, directly for the Yukon College.  Only those who work for security companies require licensing here.  In the two other territories, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, nobody needs a licence, whether they work in-house or not.

Still, I think that a Code of Conduct for security is a good start and I endorse it.

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