Private security boom worries Swiss police

Fear of terrorism has reportedly created a thriving market for private security firms in Switzerland, but a lack of uniform standards has Swiss police concerned. According to a report in newspaper SonntagsBlick, figures from economic information service Bisnode D&B show that 689 new private security firms have sprung up in Switzerland in the last five years. That’s an average of 11 new businesses per month – although in that time period, only 99 reported solvency.

The companies provide various services including alarm systems, and security for public buildings and spaces, large events and village streets. The German-language paper speculated that the firms are capitalising on fears of a terrorist attack in Switzerland.
“Private security services are taking over more and more tasks in the public sphere, where the police are actually responsible,” Johanna Bundi Ryser, president of the Swiss Police Officer’s Association, told SonntagsBlick. She added that cantons and municipalities also carry some responsibility, as they “increasingly rely on private security companies instead of trained police officers for cost reasons.”

Roger Schneeberger, secretary general of the Conference of Directors of Cantonal Departments of Justice and Police, said that an absence of competency standards is a concern. “It is, of course, not possible to ensure that the owners and their employees are fit for their tasks and have a good reputation,” he said. The matter has made its way to the federal government, but without much success, reports SonntagsBlick. Parliamentarian Priska Seiler-Graf has called on the Swiss cabinet to regulate private security services uniformly, but her proposal was rejected in February on the grounds that it was “premature” to set standards at the federal level.