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Standards for Private Security Contractors

November

Last year, ASIS completed work on a series of American National Standards that address the business and risk management of security operations conducted by private security services providers or private security companies (PSCs). The world's first standards to address managing the risks of security operations while protecting human rights, the "PSC standards" were developed by 200+ experts from 24 countries and included representation from clients, service providers, non-governmental, and rights groups from the public and private sector.  

The recent media spotlight on security contractors has brought these standards back to the forefront. Contrary to what many media reports indicate, government, civil groups, and security industry professionals have long recognized the need to work together to address the use of private security contractors. It was this awareness and need to "raise the bar" that led to the development of the PSC standards.

The cornerstone of the series, the PSC.1 standard, provides auditable criteria and guidance for private security contractors to better manage their security operations while respecting human rights. It provides assurance to potential clients that they can expect a level of professionalism and quality of services to achieve their objectives. Among the criteria this Standard addresses are leadership, business, and risk management; respect for legal requirements; and vetting the selection and background screening of personnel. Other topics include rules for use of force, training, incident management, investigations, and complaint and grievance procedures.

Security operations and services will improve as clients in the public and private sectors move to require their private security contractors to conform to this standard. Already adopted for contracting by the U.S. Department of Defense and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the PSC.1 standard now serves as a differentiator. A way for companies to demonstrate quality of service and professionalism that clients demand.

The PSC.2 standard provides requirements for auditing and conformance with the PSC.1. The PSC.3 standard provides a maturity model phased implementation so companies can establish achievable and maintainable goals based on their specific needs. The PSC.4 standard provides guidance for the use of private security on the high seas posed by the threat of crime and piracy in international waters.

While written for PSCs operating in high risk environments, in reality these standards can help any private security provider improve the management of their business. They address issues relevant to all security service providers—risk management, human resource issues, competence and training, background screening, subcontracting, weapons management and usage, communications, and incident management— and can help practitioners integrate their services into the overall risk management strategies of their organizations.

ASIS has a robust library of industry standards available, as well as several important projects in the works including a Risk Assessment standard with RIMS and an Investigations standard. These important works provide a set of voluntary criteria to assure levels of quality, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability.

Members are entitled to a free download of each standard and guideline. I encourage you to take advantage of this valuable member benefit and to participate whenever possible.