What Are Security Guards Allowed To Do?

The key responsibilities of a security guard are to ensure the safety of people, buildings, and their contents. Security officers work to ensure the safety of citizens, which can involve mitigating danger and intercepting criminal activity.

Due to the breadth and unpredictability that can come with the role, there is some confusion regarding what a security guard is permitted to do. This article aims to clarify the permissions of the role and some of the misconceptions about security guarding.

Churchill Support Services is the #1 ACS-Approved security provider UK-wide, acting as an industry leader in private security. All our security officers are SIA-licenced, which as this article will explore, is crucial to work as a security guard in the UK. This includes all our on-site guards, mobile guards, alarm responders, and event security.


What Qualifications Will A Security Guard Have?


A security officer is often responsible for people’s safety, so a rigorous process of regulations and training ensures that the role is carried out effectively. All guards in the UK must have a licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA). This ensures that businesses can trust that all security personnel are trained to a high industry standard, and that both staff and sites will be kept secure.

Undertaking security work without an SIA licence is considered a criminal offence which could result in a £5,000 fine or six-month prison sentence. There are no other specific educational qualifications required to become a security guard, but the SIA will test and expect a good level of basic education.

A SIA licence is the only qualification legally required for the role. In addition to being a legal requirement, it increases employers’ trust in their security service and maintains paramount standards across the industry.

The SIA ensures stability across the industry by providing regulatory requirements for security guards. Gaining an SIA licence allows guards to work across the following sectors:

  • Mobile Security
  • CCTV Operation
  • Key Holding

To begin training, you must first be aged 18. You must enrol and complete the UK ‘licence-linked’ qualification so that the SIA can ensure prospective security personnel have the skills and knowledge required to take on the responsibilities of the role.

This must be provided by a SIA-approved training provider. This is essential to complete and will be automatically submitted to the Security Industry Authority upon completion.

It’s important to note that there are two types of SIA licence: a front-line licence and a non-front-line licence. A front-line licence is essential to undertake most duties, except for directorial or managerial positions at a security firm (which still requires a non-front-line SIA licence).

Once the SIA has received an application, background checks are conducted to ensure a clean criminal record and legal right to work in the UK.  These background and identity checks are essential steps in obtaining an SIA licence.

Due to the safety responsibility of being a security guard, first aid training is compulsory to work as a door supervisor. For this role, there is a requirement to acquire a DS Licence for Door Supervision (in addition to an SIA licence). There may be other exams required during this process, with questions designed to test a range of job elements from CCTV to close protection.

For more information about how to gain an SIA licence and approved training bodies, visit our previous post about why a SIA licence is important.


The 6 Main Duties of Security Guards


1. Patrolling and Monitoring Sites

One of the most common duties performed by a security officer is patrolling premises to ensure the safety of both personnel and the facility itself. Patrolling can act as a deterrent against physical threats, as well as property damage.

It serves multiple purposes, dependent on the business needs. Research has demonstrated how the presence alone of security acts as an effective deterrent to a range of criminal activities, with against-person crimes reduced by 31%, and theft be reduced by 22%.

Patrolling is an essential duty of a security role, requiring alertness and a readiness to respond to any security breaches. The security guard must actively look for potential security threats and detect them before harm or damage occurs. On-site guards are often located in strategic positions across the premises to monitor who enters the site and prevent intruders, stopping crime before it happens.

Mobile security officers often use vehicles as a visual deterrent and provide security beyond a fixed location, providing flexible security across wider locations. Churchill’s branded vehicles can be used in conjunction with our range of services, promptly addressing security risks and always visibly protecting your business.

The presence of a guard deters several crimes, including theft, vandalism, arson, and physical threats. Furthermore, guards can intervene when crimes are taking place to quickly prevent harm and minimise damage.

Churchill provides on-site security guards, which can be accompanied by CCTV surveillance which is monitored 24/7. Our patrolling guards can be utilised with canine security, another layer of protection to detect any intruders earlier.

on-site guards are often located in strategic positions across the premises to monitor who enters the site and prevent intruders, stopping crime before it happens.

2. Conflict De-Escalation And Management

Knowing how to de-escalate tensions is a huge responsibility of security personnel, to prevent situations from becoming inflamed and heightening risk.

As security personnel have a duty of care, it is a prominent responsibility to identify points of tension and intervene appropriately and maintain professionalism whilst handling any conflict or disagreement. Strong customer service skills are of paramount importance, as a people facing role.

Churchill’s security personnel are trained to prepare for an array of situations and sectors, from student accommodation to hospitals. The quality of our support services is reflected by our unmatched Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) score of 144/145.

With Churchill, you can be assured that our officers are fully trained to minimise any potential conflicts swiftly and professionally.


3. Responding To Alarm Triggers

An alarm response security officer is responsible for responding promptly to any alarm activations, often triggered by intruders or criminals. This key duty is concerned with protecting property when left unattended, often at night-time when properties may be vacant.

Earlier this year, we highlighted the security risks facing vacant properties, including theft, vandalism and arson. Recent research found that over 60% of burglaries happen in properties without a security system, installing an alarm is a crucial way to minimise this risk.

A security guard is responsible for responding to alarms when triggered and must be prepared to mitigate any risk.

This duty requires a prompt response from security officers, often involving direct intervention with the offenders. The security guard must protect the property and involve authorities if required to keep the site safe. Additionally, security personnel are responsible for producing a report for any trigger, whether the alert is a false alarm, or an incident has taken place.

Churchill offers an industry-leading alarm response service, priding ourselves on a swift average response time of just thirty minutes. As an industry leader, our alarm responders are trained to respond to all alarm activations, ranging from physical intervention to repairs and maintenance at the site.


4. Liaising With Authorities

Security personnel differ from the police in their ability to detain and arrest but can do so temporarily – on reasonable grounds – until police arrive on the scene.

This means that, in the event of a security breach where a crime has been committed, security personnel are responsible for liaising with authorities and providing relevant details.

This duty requires personnel to recall and communicate effectively, with an eye for detail to assist the authorities with all relevant details that may assist their evaluation of the crime.

Teamwork and awareness are responsibilities involved with this duty, combined with an awareness of acting within the law whilst ensuring the safety of the public.

Churchill’s personnel are trained to effectively deal with the relevant emergency services if an incident does occur, adding extra peace of mind for you and your business.

Since 1996, we have provided effective and reliable security, with a proven track record of trust and, when needed, the effective liaising with authorities to minimise stresses and disruption to your business.


5. Bag Searches

A security officer is often a key figure in carrying out bag searches especially at events. This duty is a key responsibility in ensuring the safety of all persons entering a site, and searching for dangerous substances and weapons that may cause harm to others. Commonly restricted items include:

  • Alcohol/ drugs
  • Sharp weapons (e.g., knives, scissors)
  • Aerosols
  • Glass bottles (e.g., perfume bottles)

These items are listed as prohibited at many large-scale UK festivals and arenas.

It is recommended that random bag searches are particularly effective at reducing theft. Additionally, it helps to provide safe and secure events for all those in attendance and minimises the risk of bodily harm to staff and other members of the public.


6. Implementing Site-Specific Rules

Specific sites have bespoke requirements which are unique to them, whether it be health and safety rules or protocol for visitors. Security personnel are employed by the business to carry out the requested tasks with professionalism and minimal disruption to the site.

At Churchill, we understand the importance of these procedures, and our personnel are trained to gain an understanding of emergency procedures, to deliver a bespoke service tailored to your business needs.

Our ability to meet our clients’ needs is reflected in our 95% customer retention rate and range of positive testimonials.


What Can Security Guards Not Do?


Security Guards Can’t Make Unwarranted Arrests

Security officers are hired from the private sector and are not an extension of the police force. This means that a security guard does not have the same powers as a police officer, who is permitted to detain people and make arrests.

Security officers can still make arrests, on the same grounds as any other UK citizen. This is outlined under Section 24A of the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984. This means that a security guard is permitted to make a citizen’s arrest and detain a person suspected of committing a crime.


Ultimately, a security guard has the same legal right to arrest another UK citizen. This includes:

– If an offender is committing a crime or there is reasonable ground for suspecting them.

– An offence has been committed and the culprit is being arrested.

– There are reasonable grounds to suspect the offender has committed the offence.

Abiding by this law ensures that private security is utilised for the right reasons and power is not misused, whilst ensuring the safety of the public.


They May Not Conduct Forced Searches On A Person Or Property

The conditions under which a security guard can search are strict under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984. If a property is left unattended or if a person is left in suspicious circumstances, searching a property is permitted. If the search of a property is required to obtain medical supplies or identification for an unconscious person, the search is also permitted.

To search a person, a security guard must have consent from the person being searched, else this is not permitted. If the person refuses, the search cannot be conducted, and force is not permitted to try and force the search.

This is important to ensure the public feels safe and secure and avoids undue harm. Whilst forced searches are not allowed, a security guard can detain a person until the police arrive if there’s significant suspicion of the person possessing a prohibited or illegal.

Security personnel can be utilised to conduct consensual searches, often at large-scale events. Citizens who do not comply can be refused entry to the event, providing effective security by ensuring that banned substances and items are not permitted on-site. This includes drugs, alcohol, and items that could be used to cause bodily harm.



Security Officers Cannot Carry Or Use A Weapon

Under no circumstances is a security officer permitted to use or carry a weapon. This includes close protection guards. Any weapon, from pepper spray to a firearm, is strictly prohibited in the UK.

This is important as security personnel, like citizens, are not above the law. This ensures weapons are not misused and reduces the potential risk of a weaponised incident by keeping all weapons off-site.


Guards Can’t Use Excessive Force During A Search or Arrest

A common misconception is that security officers are permitted to be forceful towards citizens. The reality is that security guards are bound by the same laws as citizens and are not permitted to use excessive force or aggression towards the public.

Under Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act, ‘reasonable’ force is permitted only in circumstances to prevent crime or in “assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders”.

A security officer must abide by this law and is not exempt from this clause. Any force more than a ‘reasonable’ amount is not permitted, as with any other citizen. This is important for safeguarding and instilling trust in security officers, who are there to protect and only intervene when necessary to mitigate dangers.


Choosing Churchill For Your Security Guarding


By choosing Churchill Support Services, your business is choosing the gold standard in security guarding, with a wide range of services to select for a bespoke security guarding service. All our guards have undergone the full SIA training process, with full first aid and training in health and safety.

By choosing Churchill Security Services, your business will receive a dedicated security service, not only trained up to industry standards but excelling in the field as the top ACS-accredited security company in the UK.

No matter where your business is based in the UK, Churchill can provide service for your business. Our success in providing security solutions is evident in our glowing customer testimonials, from the NHS to Norwich City Council.

Contact our operatives today for a free, no-obligation quote, and tailored advice for your business’ security needs.

Emily Macaulay

Director of Sales

Emily is responsible for business growth and account development via new sales. She leads the Business Development teams through strategic goals and objectives in line with business targets and strategy. Emily is a friendly, approachable and a respected senior manager at Churchill who always strives to deliver service excellence.