In-House versus Private Security

If you’ve ever wondered if you should get a new Security Agency, you may have thought, ‘I could do this myself’, or maybe you have an in house Security Agency and wondered, ‘should I contract this out to a Security Agency?’ There are some significant differences between contracting out a Security Agency to oversee security services and hiring your own staff and running what’s typically referred to as an ‘in-house Security Agency’.

If you decide to go in-house and essentially run your own Security Agency, its important to remember that is exactly what you are doing. You may think of it as hiring some security staff to oversee your property and assets, but the truth is, you are a Security Agency and are required by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to obtain the necessary insurance and licencing. For some, that’s enough of a deterrence to hire a private agency. But some people think, so what, I can get an Agency licence and insurance.

If you do go in-house, you need to apply for the same licencing as any other Security Agency operating in Ontario, meaning you need to provide background information, photos of your uniforms and a copy of your insurance policy (for security)  showing that you have at least $2 million liability. The Ministry will ask for references, do a criminal background check, and if you qualify, will issue you an Agency licence that has to be renewed every 2 years.

So you have your Agency licence, now what? You are now required to oversee security staff and ensure they have a licence – if you hire unlicensed staff this could result in a $250,000 fine for you, and the unlicensed staff member could also receive a $25,000 fine.

Here is where the real differences lay. As the agency owner, you have full control over the staff you select, the uniforms you use and how much you pay each guard. These are all great things for some people, but can also be daunting tasks if you aren’t familiar with the Security industry, and how to hire guards that are properly trained and have the right frame of mind.

If guards call in sick, you will be responsible to fill shifts at the last minute, or to be down a guard, possibly putting other guards on site in jeopardy if they do not have the backup they require for certain patrols or situations.

You will also be responsible for training guards, and their performance reviews. This can be difficult for someone who doesn’t have a background in security, as you may not know what training is required, and it may be difficult to assess whether or not they are performing well. If you aren’t familiar with Security, you may even be leaving gaps in security coverage and never know it.

For example, you may have to few guards, or you may not have thought to tell the guards to monitor certain areas or patrol regularly. You may not think to see what they are writing in their memo books, how often they are writing, or if their reports are being done regularly and correct.

To further complicate matters, the Ministry requires paperwork, uniforms, schedules, and a number of other things to be kept in order. The Ministry conducts audits on companies and if you are in breach, it could result in fines or even worse, your Agency licence being suspended.

If you hire a Security Agency, they are responsible for the guards, their uniforms, their reporting and all of the Ministry requirements and audits, as well as pay and performance of their security personnel.  Security companies will regularly perform spot checks on their employees and will fill empty shifts.

A good Security Agency will be able to consult with you and let you know if there are gaps in security, or if you need cameras or spot checks, or 2 guards, or 10. They will be able to ensure that you not only have what you want, but you have what you need to ensure the safety of your people, property and assets.

The bottom line is, yes, may be able to save some money if you go in-house and hire your own security staff, but is it really worth all of the extra responsibilities? You will need to become an expert in Security or could risk getting fined by the Ministry. The best option is always to let someone who is an expert in the area provide you the service you need.