What are Security Guards Allowed to do?

As a security guard you are hired by businesses often for two reasons; to prevent threats such as theft and vandalism, and to resolve the problem if it arises. But as a security guard what are you legally allowed to do? As security guards are hired to prevent crime, it is often thought they have similar powers as those in the police force. Yet, this is not the case; security guards have the exact same rights and legal authority as members of the general public do. This raises additional questions on what exactly a security guard is permitted to do when dealing with a potential threat.

Can you be Detained by a Security Guard?

Like any other civilian, security guards are permitted to perform a citizen’s arrest as long as they have reasonable grounds for suspicion of the person they are planning to arrest.  But, there are specific conditions that the circumstances must meet in order for the arrest to be legal. These come under the Section 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. See below the rules surrounding a citizen’s arrest:

  • They witness or have reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed a crime
  • They witness or have reasonable grounds to believe that a person is in the act of committing a crime
  • To protect a person from causing injury to themselves or others
  • Prevent a person from damaging property or causing a loss to the business/organisation
  • To stop a person from leaving the scene before an officer arrives to take over responsibility .

Are Security Guard Allowed to Physically Restrain You? 

Like anybody else, security guards are only allowed to use reasonable force, so in that case, this means that any levels of force must only be used when it’s completely necessary and when in the process of detaining someone.

Can a Security Guard Search You? 

Security guards are not allowed to search you or your possessions unless they have your consent. Although, this does not apply if you are not present or unconscious. This includes the ability to search your bag or your car. This also applies to security guards who believe they’ve caught a shoplifter, as they too are not allowable to conduct a forced search if the person does not consent; in this situation they would have to detain the suspected shoplifter until a police officer arrives and can legally conduct a forced search.

Searches can be made without a persons consent in certain situations:

When a bag or any other type of possession has been left unattended in a suspicious circumstance, they then have the right to search it as it could become a threat to the safety of the public

If a person isn’t conscious and they are trying to identify them in order to help them, the security guard is permitted to search their bag for this.

Are Security Guards allowed to refuse entry if you don’t comply? 

If a security guard asks you to allow a search of your bag and you refuse, then they are well within their rights to deny you entry to the premises, whether it be a bar, club or otherwise. This is often a standard rule set by these types of businesses that run throughout the night.

Are Security Guards Permitted to Carry a Weapon? 

No. Security Guards have the same rights and authority as the general public. Therefore, this means they’re not allowed to carry any form of weapon. That includes:




Pepper Spray

Knuckle Dusters

Security guards are permitted to carry handcuffs and then use them to perform a citizen’s arrest when required. It is suggested that they have the correct training before using them while on the job. Therefore, they can use them in a safe manner so they don’t injure themselves or anybody else.

Security guards in the UK have the same authority and rights as any other UK citizen. They do not get any extra power or privileges like the police force. Their presence alone often acts as a preventive for potential criminals, but if a situation arises, prepared to deal with the issue quickly and calmly.

At Security Guards UK, we have a wealth of experience in the security industry. With over 20 years of experience providing residential security for some of the UK’s largest and most recognizable compaines, we are well equipped to deal with a variety of different security requirements. If you require residential security to provide protection for your property, this is something we can certainly assist with. Please call us on 0800 028 1513 or email us at info@securityguardsuk.com

Get in touch today for a FREE and no-obligation consultation with one of our security experts. You can call us on 0800 028 1513 or email us with your enquiry to info@securityguardsuk.com.

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