If you live in cities, you might have had more encounters with a private security guard than a police officer. Their ubiquitous presence is more or less taken for granted, especially in industrial areas, public installations and office spaces. With 7 million security guards and 1.4 million police officers, India has five times as many private security guards than police officers. This disparity is the highest in the world. The private security guard-to-police officer ratio is second highest in the world for South Africa at 2.5. China has five million private security guards compared to 2.7 million police officers.
The study done by The Guardian shows that half of the world population lives in countries where there are more private security workers than police officers. Globally, the market is USD 180 billion now and is expected to be USD 240 billion by 2020. A FICCI and Grant Thornton report counts low police to citizen ratio (1:720 against the UN advised 1:450), high global terrorism index (7.86 out of maximum 10), increase in crime rate, increase in the number of public events, increase in the number of ATMs resulting in higher volume of cash logistics, infrastructure related crimes and urbanisation of the economy as reasons for such high demand for private security services.
There is one more startling fact about policing in India which further feeds to the demand. In a police deprived country, for every VIP there are three policemen deputed for his or her security. According to the Bureau of Police Research and Development data, 56,944 police men and women have been deployed just for the safety of 20,828 VIPs.
Government policies like making guards in schools and ATMs mandatory and installation of CCTV cameras at various locations have resulted in accelerating the demand. For example, a back of the envelope calculation shows that there are around 15 lakh education institutions in India and the mandatory 3 security guards on a 24-hour basis only translate into 45 lakh new jobs.
During the first decade of the 21st century, the sector was relatively unaffected by the economic slowdown which grew rapidly at CAGR of 25 percent. It picked up even more and the Indian security industry was Rs 400 billion in 2014. It is expected to reach Rs 800 billion by the year 2020—doubling in six years.
The private security industry forms a lucrative option for unskilled workers to get employment. The number of people employed in the sector “is expected to rise manifold as the size of the industry increases,” says Rahul Kapur of Grant Thornton India LLP.
According to estimates, by 2020, five million new jobs will be created in the security service sector—again, almost doubling in six years.