Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Law enforcement or private security

When private entities hire government police and military for private security, how is government and legitimacy affected?

Rent-a-cop: Private security is hollowing out Nigeria’s security forces
Private security is big business in Nigeria. The country suffers bombings in the north, sectarian violence in the centre and simmering insecurity in the oil-producing south-east…

Companies know better than to risk employees’ lives, or litigation, so they hire guards to scan bags at banks and shopping malls or to vet visitors to private residential estates…

Because they cannot legally carry weapons, armed units must be hired from national forces. This can breed indiscipline: “When there is corruption at the top, you expect it at the bottom,” notes one security provider…

Private companies pay the security forces handsomely. But that also encourages commanders to hire out their men. The result is a privatisation of public security, reckons Rita Abrahamsen, a professor at the University of Ottawa. In 2011 a retired deputy inspector-general estimated that up to 100,000 police officers (about a third of the country’s total) were working for “a few fortunate individuals”, and questioned what that meant for regular Nigerians…

Things may improve… Muhammadu Buhari, wants some security contracts cancelled and has told police to stop serving as dogsbodies ["people who do menial work, servants for political bigwigs and business tycoons" -Wiktionary]. He thinks they should spend more time solving crime.

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