The government has adopted new regulations that have given power to private security guards to carry guns and make arrests.
According to reports by The Standard, the regulations were gazetted on Friday by Interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i.
Under the new regulations, the guards have also been empowered to take formal police jobs, quell riots and providing security during elections.
In performing these duties, the guards, just like the police and emergency service providers, will be allowed to ride in armoured and rapid response vehicles. They will be allowed to blare sirens as well as flashing warning lights on highways.
The private guards will enjoy these privileges under the guidance of the Inspector General of Police (IG).
Under the new regulations, which are in line with the Private Security Regulation Act 2016, a Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) will be charged with several responsibilities on the operation of private security firms.
The authority, headed by Fazul Mohamed, will ensure all the guards comply with the new set of rules.
The regulations stipulate that all private security firms that employ the guards must be freshly registered with PSRA within the first six months.
The guards will also be vetted and PSRA will ensure they don’t put on uniforms that resemble those of the national security personnel.
For ease of identification, private security firms will be required to issue guards with uniforms that bear a clear and bold label “Private Security” and a company patch.
The move comes months after CS Matiang’i said the government was going to withdrawal police officers in Cash In Transit (CIT) work.
“Be ready to arm your guards because we will withdraw officers from some of these jobs like CIT.
“You will be in charge of the guns issued to you and any case of misuse will be punished” Matiang’i said in April.
In carrying out their duties, the new regulations stipulate that the guards may make arrests and hand over the suspects of criminal acts to the nearest police station.
In doing this, the guards will be expected to use non-violent means.
“A private security service provider shall as far as is reasonably possible, use non-violent means in arresting any suspected offender and may only employ force when non-violent measures have failed to prevent escape.”
“The force used shall be proportional to the objective sought to be achieved, the seriousness of the offence and the resistance of the person against whom it is used, ” the regulations read in part.
According to the government, bringing in trained private security personnel is meant to serve the purpose of maintaining law and order, preventing or mitigating national disasters, incident planning, sharing security information and sharing expertise and training.
Initially, such duties were the preserve of the police and armed forces, with the National Youth Service on standby. Relief agencies such as the Kenya Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance also played key roles in such instances.