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This paper aims to present the role of PSCs in present time through their

historical emergence and clearing their definition with regard to Private

Military Companies (PMCs). Moreover, a case study from Kenya will

analyzed to portray reasons and issues that state encompasses when

hiring PSCs for maintaining or building Law and Order and pursuing law

enforcement. Lastly, a connection between the PSCs and the trend of

internationalization of policing will be given since the latter is becoming a

worldwide phenomenon. What was the main impetus for the expansion of

private security? Is this a new trend or is it only being brought back into

the political discourse lately? These questions will be leading the research

and analysis throughout this paper for achieving these goals.















Law and institutional framework ... 10

Wages ... 10

Professionalism ... 11

Relationship between Kenyan Police and PSCs ... 11







As declared by John Stuart Mill, “security is the most vital of all interests

and (…) security of person and property (…) are the first needs of society”

(cited in Acton Burrow 1972, 55)


. In order to fulfill these needs, common

political discourse claims that beside population and defined territory, a

state also needs to have the ability to exercise sovereignty over that

territory. If a state lacks this ability, it begins to lose its power. In order

for this power to be restored by the state and thus avoid becoming a

failed state, the government needs to retain its legitimacy. This can be

achieved by various means, but one that is becoming increasingly

common is the involvement of Private Security Companies (PSCs).

Nowadays, it is practically impossible to avoid contact with these

companies (and/or their employees) - they can be met in shopping malls,

on public premises or accompanying an important person. But how much

do we really know about PCSs? How have they developed and what is the

reason behind the growing demand for their services?

This paper aims to present the role of PSCs in present time through their

historical emergence and clearing their definition with regard to Private

Military Companies (PMCs). Moreover, a case study from Kenya will

analyzed to portray reasons and issues that state encompasses when

hiring PSCs for maintaining or building Law and Order and pursuing law

enforcement. Lastly, a connection between the PSCs and the trend of

internationalization of policing will be given since the latter is becoming a

worldwide phenomenon. What was the main impetus for the expansion of

private security? Is this a new trend or is it only being brought back into

the political discourse lately? These questions will be leading the research

and analysis throughout this paper for achieving these goals.

1 Mill, John Stuart and Harry Burrow Acton. 1972. Utilitarianism; liberty; repre se ntative

governme nt; selectio ns from Auguste Comte and positivism. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. In Jäger and Kümmel (2007, 185).




Historical Evolution

There aren’t any second thoughts if one claims that private security industry has its roots reaching a long way back, moving from ancient times, to the Middle Ages and Victorian era and then further following from nineteenth to twentieth century (Lipson 1988, Ch. 1)2. Nevertheless, PSCs began to gain their

importance as actors in international security at the beginning of the 1970s (Jäger and Kümmel 2007, 91). As Westbury argues: “/r/ising number terrorist attacks with combination of globalizations outset in the early 1970s created opportunity for PSCs to engage in military/security operation as legitimate actors” (Westbury in Jäger and Kümmel 2007, 91). Meanwhile, operations of multinational corporations were gradually expanding into new dangerous areas of the world which also brought the need for managing different types of security risk. Following from this, “/c/orporate world started to look for security companies that had expertise and could provide suitable solutions for new security problems” (ibid: 92). Although there had been some private involvement in security sector reform (SSR), which was still in the early stages to develop, services that were provided by experts were still the subject of short-term contracts (ibid).

The end of the Cold War could be noted as the main impetus for the emergence of PSC. Abrahamsen and Williams claim that the “/m/ilitary downsizing with end of superpower rivalries can be seen as ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors: one the one side, demobilized military personnel and decommissioned equipment provided a ready supply for capacity; and on the other, there was an increased demand for PSC as the West and the East were both reluctant to intervene in unstable parts of the globe with their own resources” (2011, 25).

Other commentators view the emergence of private security service providers as a logical progression from the privatization of military goods production (the armaments industry) in Europe and North America. For example, firms selling

2 For the sake of logicality, I did not go into details describing each example (that are presented in



armaments may increasingly offer accompanying services such as maintenance or training in the use of weapons (Krahmann 2003, 13–17)3.

Private Security Company: Definition

Although the term private security company is used by many countries, it does not exist within any extant international convention. In a general way, PSCs may be defined as follows:

“A Private Security Company is a registered civilian company that specializes in providing contract commercial services to domestic and foreign entities with the intent to protect personnel and humanitarian and industrial assets within the rule of applicable domestic law” (Goddard 2001, 8).

PSCs are profit-driven organizations that trade in professional services linked to internal security and protection. The majority of PSCs are smaller companies, predominantly concerned with crime prevention and ensuring public order, providing security and private guard services domestically (Schreier and Caparini 2005, 26). Next chapter will serve as an opportunity to differentiate between Private Military Companies and Private Security Companies with offering an explanation for frequent confusion between these two terms.

Misconception: PMCs vs. PSCs

Despite often appearing misunderstanding of PSCs in terms of seeing them as PMCs, distinctions between them are noticeable. The term Private Military Company (PMC) should denote, as Chesterman and Lenhardt argue, “firms that provide services outside their home states with the potential for use of lethal force, as well as training of and advice to militaries that substantially affects their war-fighting abilities” (Chesterman and Lenhardt 2007, 3)4. They also further

explain that only the term ‘military’ is more related to these services that are provided in conflicts zones in a military environment (ibid). On the other hand the term Private Security Company (PSC), according to Abrahamsen and Williams, refers to the “companies whose main aim is offering protection for ‘protection of life and assets’ ” (2011, 39). However, when making this kind of distinction, cautiousness is in place since there is no clear dividing line between

3 Krahmann, Elke. 2003. The Privatization of Security Governance: Developments, Problems,

Solutions Arbeitspapiere zur Internationalen Politik und Außenpolitik (AIPA). University of Cologne: Cologne. In Holmqvist (2005, 1).

4 Chesterman, Simon and Chia Lenhardt. 2007. From Mercenaries to Market: the Rise and

Regulation of Private Military Companies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. In Abrahamsen and Williams (2011, 39).



PMCs and PSCs as many companies have contracts in both areas5. Consequently,

PSCs might also be seen in providing more military-related activities, and on the contrary PMCs might provide more security-related activities (ibid).

Another distinction made between PMC and PSC can be offered as PMCs “are defined as private companies providing offensive services, designed to have a military impact, whereas PSC is taken to refer to companies offering defensive

services, intended mainly to protect individuals and property” (Holmqvist 2005, 5). Regarding this distinction, difficulties rely on two accounts. Firstly, what is perceived as ‘defensive’ under one set of circumstances may well turn out to have ‘offensive’ repercussions in another and secondly, short-term situational demands as well as immediate or medium-term business opportunities lead companies to appropriate new tasks with relative speed and ease, making the ‘offensive–defensive’ or ‘active–passive’ distinctions irrelevant at best and misleading at worst (ibid).

Services of PSCs abroad

According to Sarah Percy, complexity of private security industry can be described as s variety of tasks for a wide range of clients in war zones, in peaceful nations and during post-conflict reconstruction (Percy 2006, 11). When mentioning a few of those clients, we can focus on foreign governments, multination corporations, internal security services and agencies, law enforcement organizations, international organizations (like United Nations (UN) or International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC)), and the armed forces. Services provided by PSCs can differ when they are applied domestically or abroad. In domestic environment, those services represent: the guarding sector (the largest and most visible component); the electronic security, sensor and surveillance sector; and investigation and risk management sector (Schreier and Caparini 2005, 27). On the other hand, services abroad can be listed as: consulting, training, intelligence, securing key locations and headquarters, protection of critical infrastructures, escorting supply convoys and humanitarian aid deliveries and lastly, personal security for VIPs and senior officials (ibid: 31–33).

5 E.g. Activities such as guarding, alarm monitoring and cash transportations are mainly services of



People that are commonly recruited for services of PSCs come from law enforcement organizations, customs, the border guards, the coast guards and other highly trained former security personnel from other organizations. They also recruit former soldiers as well as paramilitaries of many countries. A growing need for civilian specialists can also be seen with hiring prison wardens; dog-handlers for drug- and explosive-detection; translators; interrogators; experts in intelligence and counterintelligence; experts in the oil- and gas-exploitation and the transport industry; specialists in NBC-monitoring and protection; ordnance, bomb, and explosive disposal; VIP protection; criminal investigation, and communications and information-related systems (Schreier and Caparini 2005, 31). As we can see, PSCs recruit people that have expertise in many fields of work in order to meet the need of their contractor.



In this part, theory will be brought into practice with illustrating how PMCs carry out their tasks and ensure national security when the governmental apparatus fails to provide the latter. Fear and insecurity have become defining features of life in Kenya. The UN characterizes Nairobi as one of the world’s most dangerous capital cities, and insecurity is a major deterrent to tourism, foreign investment and economic growth in the country. Proliferation of private security providers is a result of high levels of violence and crime, combined with a lack of confidence and trust in the public police force. There is an estimate that around 2000 PSCs currently operate in the country, and “/l/arge sections of the population rely on private providers for their everyday security” (Abrahamsen and Williams 2005, 3).

The explanation of choosing Kenya as study case is following: this country is one of the examples among others in Africa that experienced decline of economic prosperity in the period between 1980s and continuing in the 1990s. The key question will be if this fact has had any implications on the condition of the security in state. This happened due to a vast decreasing of state expenditure and foreign investments in order to meet requirements of international donors that were oriented toward economic liberalization and structural adjustment. The



result was a “/c/ontinuing deterioration of the ability of government and municipal institutions to deliver services, including the provision of law and order.” Meanwhile, “/t/he state elite was a synonym for corruption and mismanagement of state assets for which there was no sign of desistance or change of behavior” (ibid: 4). Consequently, the capacity of state declined which triggered so called “domino effect” in a sense of disability for providing employment, rising number of shantytowns and informal settlements around major cities (ibid). Important to mention is also that poverty rates among society were very high and people had to find a way to make a living, although in illegal way.

Kenyan police force

One of the reasons why PSCs had all possibilities to flourish in Kenya is the nature of Kenyan police force. Very high crime rates gave Kenyan citizens a perception that criminals are increasingly collaborating with law-enforcement agents. An outcome of this perception showed overall mistrust in the police forces and ironically they were largely perceived as the part of the problem instead of being seen as a path towards fighting crime and reestablishing the public order (Abrahamsen and Williams 2011, 201).

Political intimidation and violence were historically often connected with the Kenyan police. “This atmosphere was ongoing since independence when police performed their repressive role on the behalf of the colonial authorities, moving on to Kenyatta era in which police went through politicization and lastly, the twenty-year-long autocratic rule of President Moi was marked by the extensive and brutal use of the police for political purposes6” (ibid: 202–3).

When President Kibaki with his NARC government was in power, a Police Reforms Task Force was set up which later also adopted the community policing (in line with international policing trends) in order to democratize the police and make it more accountable. However “/t/his move had a little or rather minimal effect since public confidence and trust in police didn’t improve nor there was any increase in accountability” (ibid: 203). Sum of all these factors contributed to a trend of hiring of PSCs to ensure public safety and using them also as a source of for private protection.



Position of PSCs in Kenya

As public security was in the state of privatization with an intent to provide sustenance for regime, this gave an impetus for PSCs to spread in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. This consequently resulted in growth of crime rates (as mentioned before) and constant fear within society. “/A/nother factor that merits a brief mention is fear of international terrorism as consequence of attack on U.S. embassy in 1998 and failed missile attack on an Israeli airliner in Mombasa in 2002” (ibid: 204).

When discussing the form of security, we can easily divide it into two categories; the formal and informal. Formal security services are offered by the state where informal security is provided by non-state actors. Further on, “/i/nformal security can be divided into two sub-categories: private security companies that are officially registered as business entities7 under the Companies Act of Kenya

(onward referred as Act) and the Informal Security Sector Groups (ISSG) and so-called vigilantism” (Jäger and Kümmel 2007, 189). Short definition of vigilantism would be, “a voluntary (violent) activity engaged in by ‘active citizens’ without state support to create and maintain, or re-create an established socio-political order” (ibid). Vigilantism is very popular among Kenyans as they represent native population contrary to the ‘imported’ type of security. Issues between these two forms will be discussed later.

The majority of security companies (usually unarmed)8 are owner-managed,

small to medium-sized commonly employing less than 100 people, although varying considerably in size. Most of these companies operate only in one locality or town, whereas major companies have operations in several main towns as well as in rural areas. The highest concentration of companies is in Nairobi, where there may be as many as 500 PSCs (Abrahamsen and Williams 2005, 6). Group4Securicor9 presents the largest company in country when defining it in the

number of employees, meaning that it has nearly 10 thousand employees and operations in 68 different locations across the country. And to mention few other important companies, KK Security has around 5 thousand employees, following

7 It is important to note, that these firms are not registered as security firms.

8 Security companies in Kenya are usually unarmed apart from those companies that acquired an

armed capacity by obtaining individual gun licenses for security guards. Companies, are not, however licensed to provide armed protection and this practice is nor legal (Abrahamsen and Williams 2011, 210).



Security Group with 3800 employees and some others10. Most of these

companies operate throughout the country, although some have chosen to restrict their operations to Nairobi (ibid). It is important to note that main driving factors for PSCs in Kenya are high profits and achieving the largest possible share in the market. This poses a serious issue, especially with regard to regulation.

Issues of PSCs

The purpose of this chapter is to analyze some of the difficulties that private security sector encompasses in Kenya, dividing it into 4 parts as following: law and institutional framework; wages; professionalism; and relationship with the state police.

Law and institutional framework

The main problem within the scope of this area is that PSCs are registered as business enterprises under the Act which categorizes them as business and not security firms. As a rule, anyone that starts working in this branch must beforehand inform the police and produce a certificate of a good conduct (Jäger and Kümmel 2007, 190), but the law applicable to PSCs is similar to very general business laws, for example: trade licenses, council by-laws, Factories and labor laws. At this point it is also reasonable to stress again the role of profit as a principal driving force for companies as they are trying to minimize their expenses (also on account of avoiding regulation) for pursuing high revenues. Furthermore, the Act does not demand any skill or expertise in security matters nor does it inquire in any managerial skills. Moreover, there is no law call for a minimum capital requirement11, or any standards to define and control the

quality of any security service or product. Already mentioned status of PSCs as business enterprises enables them not to be subjected to any law enforcement agencies, like police for example (ibid:190–1).


It has been reported that most of the companies pay low wages, that don’t even suffice to support their own families. Regular wages range from 1500 to 4000 Shillings per month (21$-55$) whereas a one room rent in a poor slum costs

10 BM Security, Securex, Patriotic Guards, Ultimate Security, and ArmorGroup.

11 Law requirement is important in respect for accountability of firms when there is damage done to



2500 Shillings per month. Such a low pay is an incentive to crime, particularly to those who are employed to protect. While there is a stipulated minimum wage (around 9500 Shillings) for the private security sector, “/o/ne of the country’s two industry associations, the Private Security Industry Alliance (PSIA) and the Kenya Security Industry Association (KSIA), is actively boycotting the regulation and continues to pay well below the minimum wage” (Abrahamsen and Williams 2006, 15).


Most of the private security guards in Kenya have very low education (not finishing even primary school due to failure of exams or lack of resources) which is also historically connected with post-colonial administration that did not insist on education beyond primary school for the police force (Jäger and Kümmel 2007, 193). From guard’s point of view, lack of education makes them easy to manipulate, as they have no bargaining power for higher salaries or better working conditions nor they are aware of their labor rights. Thus they can be easily fired. Apart from codes of behavior/codes of ethics that have been developed for all professional and policy agencies, there is no law that would regulate code of ethics in Kenya which implies they operate in vacuum and to their own standards. On the other hand, there exists the Kenya Security Industry Association (KSIA) which performs monitoring and review processes for its own members, however currently there are only 21 PSCs12 enlisted as members,

meaning that regulation for them is relatively small (Abrahamsen and Williams 2005, 12). Therefore, a code of ethics that would grasp all of the PSCs in Kenya is inevitably necessary for a greater accountability of companies and also for a better relationship between the PSCs and the public (ibid: 193–4).

Relationship between Kenyan Police and PSCs

Problem in fractured security field, especially between police and private security seems to be two folded. On the one side, police see PSCs as direct competitor as public’s reliance on private providers threatens their status and position. Furthermore, there is a feeling of jealousy towards PSCs as police cannot match economic, capital or technological capabilities and several forms of protection that international firms and the larger Kenyan PSCs can provide for their

12 This data retrieved from the internet site of The Kenya Security Industry Association (KSIA). Full



employees (Abrahamsen and Williams 2011, 210). On the other side, “/t/he police are the only security actors that are legally armed, making PSCs dependent on the police require their cooperation and backup when responding to dangerous situations, and obviously, when arrests are to be made” (ibid). Moreover, with this dependency of PSCs to police and unarmed status of guards, causes limited security capacity for clients and also places guards in significant danger.

Future announcements for PSCs

PSCs in Kenya point out that they have a growing role especially in urban areas (like Nairobi and Kitale) and therefore they should not be underestimated nor ignored as an actor in providing public security. “Although private security certainly follows the line of wealth, it is of a great significance to show that state capacity plays a crucial role in determining the role and impact of private security” (Abrahamsen and Williams 2011, 215). Besides, in the case of Kenya it would be misleading to assume that expansion of private security will undoubtedly support the lack of state’s sovereignty in providing security. Therefore, the key challenge facing the Kenyan private security sector is the development of a regulatory framework for licensing and monitoring, in order to ensure higher standards and quality of service. It is also crucial that steps are taken to improve the safety of security guards. General system which has an overview of the whole private security industry that would embrace all actors and put them under regulation is one of the possible solutions and implications for future.



Purpose of this chapter is to present the general idea of how policing became more international and if this has any connection with private security sector. As Andreas and Nadelmann state “The international orientation of policing priorities and international extension of policing practices have reached unprecedented levels /…/ as states have developed a wide range of cooperative instruments to manage the issues that are brought by transnational crime” (2006, 250). However, this also contributed to some disadvantages that came along and have



to be recognized and confronted. This includes “/g/rowing problems of accountability and transparency (a widening “democratic deficit” as police functions become more internationalized and privatized), troubling civil liberties and human rights implications of the securitization of policing and the spread of more invasive laws and surveillance technologies in the wake of September 11, 2001” (ibid).

“The growing privatization of policing can be viewed as a modern-day variant on the reliance on posses, privateers, and private detective agencies such as the Pinkertons in earlier eras. The contemporary process of securitization, in which military and intelligence agencies are increasingly utilized to confront acts defined as criminal (i.e., terrorism, drug trafficking, migrant smuggling), is in some ways a throwback to earlier centuries, when navies were deployed to eradicate piracy and the slave trade and troops were sent to crack down on border bandits and other transnational law evaders” (Andreas and Nadelmann 2006, 252). To sum up, the present period challenges a certain sense of ‘déjà vu’. “The past may be prelude more than is typically recognized” (ibid).

Another three aspects of comparing public police and private (police) security is argued by Bayley and Shearing. According to them, ppolicing has entered a new era, an era characterized by a transformation in the governance of security. The key to the transformation is that policing, meaning the activity of making societies safe, is not carried out anymore exclusively by governments (Bayley and Shearing 2001, 5). Their findings also indicate that: In most countries, certainly in the democratic world, private police outnumber public police; in these same countries, people spend more time in their daily lives in places where visible crime prevention and control are provided by nongovernmental groups rather than by governmental police agencies; and the reconstruction of policing is occurring worldwide despite differences in wealth and economic systems (Bayley and Shearing 2001, 6). They also agree that current restructuring of policing may simply be a return to the past, as another cycle in the historical ebb and flow of policing power between governmental and nongovernmental agencies (ibid: 7).

As Andreas and Nadelmann have shown, there clearly is a connection between PSCs as representatives of non-governmental actors to provide security.



However, this may not be clearly seen as an advantage as it could be seen as lack of accountability from the state. This impression arises from the perception state’s own police forces are not sufficient to supply the need of society. Furthermore, Bayley and Shearing give us another perspective of how to observe observe this restructuring of security and that private security has an important role in society which should be brought into effective relation with public police. Besides, transnational policing is also connected with PSCs through transfer of information technology, knowledge, data handling functions and other characteristics.




This paper showed that private security is not a new phenomenon as this form of security can be traced throughout the history. However, the real impetus for development and massive spread was provided by globalization and rise of terrorism in 1970s and then more evidently with the end of Cold War and the need to pursue state’s interest through private channels. When referring to PMCs and PSCs, cautiousness is needed in order to avoid confusion and condemnation as these two branches are developing on their own senses.

The case of Kenya clearly shows that economic situation and weak government (state capacities) can lead to undermining of public safety and as a consequence, a lot of actors in the state (e.g. multination corporations, law enforcement organizations, international organizations UN or ICRC, individuals and others) must resort to PSCs as they are more confident source for providing security apart from police that still deals with a lot of problems. Although there is a flood of PSCs in Kenya, they are still widely unregulated which poses as main problem, among other as wages, education, training skills, professionalism, lack of code of ethics, transparency and above all accountability for their actions. A point, stressed out by many authors, is that PSCs in Kenya should be regulated under several laws that would limit their capabilities of PSCs in sense that they would become more efficient and not to overlap with each other. Moreover, Kenyan Police and PSCs should find a common starting point with one goal, to ensure security for citizens of Kenya and not to hinder themselves as this is situation nowadays.




Abrahamsen, Rita and Michael C. Williams. 2005. The Globalization of Private Security. Country Report: Kenya. Aberystwyth: University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Abrahamsen, Rita and Michael C. Williams. 2006. Security sector reform: bringing the private in. Conflict, Security & Development, 6 (1): 1–23.

Abrahamsen, Rita and Michael C. Williams. 2011. Security beyond the state: private security in international politics. Cambridge: University Press.

Andreas, Peter and Ethan Nadelmann. 2006. Policing the Globe. Criminalization and Crime Control in International Relations. Oxford: University Press.

Bayley, David H. and Clifford D. Shearing. 2001. The New Structure of Policing: Description, Conceptualization, and Research Agenda. Washington: U.S. Department of Justice; National Institute of Justice.

Goddard, Scott C. 2001. “The Private Military Company: A Legitimate International Entity Within Modern Conflict”. Fort Leavenworth (Kansas): U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Jäger, Thomas and Gerhard Kümmel. 2007. Private military and security companies: chances, problems, pitfalls and prospects. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Holmqvist, Caroline. 2005. Private Security Companies: The Case for Regulation. Stockholm: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Lipson, Milton. 1988. Private Security: A Retrospective. In Private Security industry: issues and trends, ed. Ira A. Lipman, 11–22. Newbury Park: SAGE Publications.

Percy, Sarah. 2006. Regulating Private Security Industry. London: Routledge. Schreier, Fred and Marina Caparini. 2005. Privatising Security: Law, Practice and Governance of Private Military and Security Companies. Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.



The Kenya Security Industry Association (KSIA). 2012. Members List. Retrieved from: http://ksia.co.ke/members-list.php (24th September 2013).


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