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Private Security Companies: Partners in Crime Prevention
On 14 September, 2005 the Center for the Study of Democracy, jointly with the UK-based Saferworld organized a public discussion on the role of the private security companies in crime prevention. The report Small Arms and Light Weapons and Private Security Companies in South Eastern Europe: A Cause or Effect of Insecurity? was presented at the discussion. It is published by the South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) and assesses the situation in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro (including the internationally administered territory of Kosovo) and Romania. The report examines the background to the privatization of security, contemporary security threats, services provided by private security companies (PSCs) and the regulation and oversight of PSCs.

The discussion benefited from the participation of representatives of the Ministry of Interior, civil society organizations and business associations.

CSD Program Director Boyko Todorov opened the discussion pointing out that it is part of a series of meetings between representatives of the public and private sectors aiming to discuss various issues related to crime prevention and contributing to a larger debate in support of the work and initiatives of the newly established National Crime Prevention Commission.

Simon Rynn, Project Coordinator for Central and Eastern Europe in Saferworld, UK, and one of the authors of the report, presented its major findings. He said that the report was the first of its kind and its major goal is to reveal how many companies there are in the SEE countries, what threats they are contracted for, what weapons they have, how their employees are trained and what is the legislation regulating the private security business. When assessing the overall development of the sector the main conclusion is that the countries, applying for EU membership – Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia – have the most developed market of private security business which is explained primarily with their better economic development. There still exist concerns about affiliations of the PSCs with political parties, criminal organizations and ethnic groups in Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Albania. It is difficult for the police to maintain law enforcement throughout the region which increases the importance of the security business. Additional control and external oversight on behalf of the parliament and the national ombudsman institutions is necessary in all countries. Mr. Rynn also mentioned a number of good practices in the EU for long-term training programs for PSC employees which still do not exist in SEE. There is a significant improvement of the quality of the PSC services in the region as a whole, he concluded.

CSD Research Fellow Philip Gounev who also participated in the survey talked about the PSCs in Bulgaria. He also underlined that the development of the private security industry is a common trend in Europe and there exist two models for control on it – European (more restrictive) and American (more liberal). There are not common standards in the EU at present but the trend shows that they are being gradually developed. He added that one of the reasons for the increase in the demand of private security services is the public perception that crime is always on the rise while the statistics (for Bulgaria) show the opposite.

Media coverage (in Bulgarian)
SEESAC report "Small Arms and Light Weapons and Private Security Companies in South Eastern Europe: A Cause or Effect of Insecurity?"
CSD work on small arms and light weapons
Launch of the National Crime Prevention Commission
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