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What Security Guards Can & Cannot Do Legally?

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Security Solutions | UK

When you choose Shergroup Security as your integrated security provider, you are choosing a company with heritage and integrity.

Are you worried about the safety of your business and people? Do you have the right safety measures to protect your business? If your answer is ‘No’, you don’t have to worry, instead, you just have to make quick and wise decisions to bring in a level of safety required for your business. Hiring the services of a security guard can cut down the risks associated with your business. Security guards often serve two purposes for the security of your business, first, they act as visible deterrents and second if an act of theft or vandalism takes place, they can actively deal with the situation.

Often, we think the roles and duties of security guards and police officers are very similar. Both wear uniforms, carry guns, guard people and property, and are seen as authoritative individuals. However, security guards are not police officers, so you should know the differences. They do not have the same level of authority as police officers. Instead, they are professionals with certain restrictions on what they may and cannot do while on duty.

If you’re planning to hire services of a security guard to protect your business from all kinds of crimes you need to make sure first, you’re hiring from a reputed security agency. And secondly, you must know what security guards the right has to do and what they cannot do.

What Security Guards Can Do Legally?

While there are some variations depending on the rules and regulations of different countries, security guards generally have the capacity and authority to conduct the following.

Protect Property |

One of the prime responsibilities of a security guard is to protect the property. A guard is given delegated authority in many such situations in order to carry out his duties. Allowing them to keep both the location and personnel on-site safe. They can’t carry out illegal actions, but they can ask individuals to move on (stop loitering), leave a location, and even detain someone if they have reason to believe a crime has been committed.

Detain A Person |

If a security guard has enough reason to believe that a crime has taken place they’re allowed to detain an individual in a reasonable manner. This means that they can, if the situation demands it, use handcuffs, carry out a pat-down to determine if a weapon is being carried, and prevent the person from leaving the scene while waiting for the police to arrive.

While a security guard is normally allowed to detain a person inside their jurisdiction (i.e. the area they’ve been hired to monitor), in some jurisdictions, they can do so in any public area if they feel a felony has been committed, and hold them until local law enforcement comes. Additional training may be required, depending on local legislation, in order to carry this out legally.

Make A Citizen’s Arrest |

If a crime is witnessed and public safety is a concern, a security guard has the same rights as any other citizen. When a guard makes such an arrest, he or she is required to call the police as quickly as possible. If the individual who has been arrested has a weapon, the guard has the right to take it away.

Use Reasonable Force |

If a security guard is forced to use force against a person in the course of their duty to ensure the safety of others and/or property, it must be reasonable and justified. A security guard, like a police officer, would be expected to employ other methods before resorting to force, such as efficient verbal communication.

What Can’t Security Guards do Legally?

1. Detain people for an unlimited amount of time |

They do not have the power to detain anyone indefinitely. The time it takes for the police to arrive or, in some situations, to complete their investigations would be considered an acceptable amount of time (such as if a shoplifting offence has been carried out).

2. Use unreasonable force |

To include, but not restricted to, the application of pain, choking, improper use of handcuffs, threatening and/or abusive language, and discrimination.

3. Can’t Carry a Weapon |

Security guards cannot use a weapon. This includes pepper spray, batons, guns, or tasers. There are only a few scenarios where security guards can effectively use handcuffs. Carefully putting them on is paramount to preventing injury to the person they are used on. If done incorrectly, there is a risk of exposing the company to legal action on health and safety grounds.

4. Cannot perform searches of personal property without permission |

Security guards have the authority to search a property that has been left unattended in questionable circumstances. There is no one to ask permission to search in these cases.

Without a search warrant, they are not allowed to search personal property. Unless the property’s owner is incompetent, in which case they are seeking to locate and/or assist the owner.


There are many reasons why you might want the services of a security guard. Having the correct security in place for any contentious, or well-publicised event is critical to protecting businesses and the public. This is where Shergroup security can help with our specialist team of SIA approved security guards.

If your clients see you went out of your way to protect them, it can leave a lasting positive impression.

Hiring SIA-approved security guards is the finest security solution. All security guards must have the appropriate licences for the job. This is not only required by law, but it also ensures that the service you receive is of the highest possible standard.

If you need the assistance of specialist security for your situation or event, get in touch with Shergroup. You can speak with our business solutions advisors and get the required information.

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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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