PSCs offer a great variety of services in CoE member States, which can be divided into the following six categories. In nearly all states, PSCs offer the protection of sites and buildings, including nuclear plants (e.g., in Germany and Romania), military installations (e.g., Austria, Estonia and Germany), airports (e.g., Austria, Germany, Romania, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Greece, France, and Albania), ports (e.g., Albania, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands) and Parliaments (e.g., Bulgaria and Romania). This category also includes setting up and maintaining alarm response services and video surveillance (CCTV). Second, PSCs in CoE member States offer protection services for valuables and cash in transit. Third, PSCs offer close protection services, such as bodyguards.
The exact role played by PSCs in CoE member States is dependent on a variety of factors. A first factor is the recent widespread adoption of neo-liberal models for public sector organisation, including the construction of quasi-markets, the introduction of business management techniques, price-competitive tendering as well as – of particular importance for this study – the contracting out to private companies of what were formerly public services. This advent of neo-liberal government is an important factor accounting for the increase of PSCs. A second factor is the level of democratization and rule of law in transition states. Indeed, many post-communist European states are in the process of implementing painful political and economic reforms. In particular, straight after the change of regime, both state institutions and the legal framework were being fundamentally reformed and were rather weak. In such circumstances, the general public has tended not to believe that the police and other state security services can deal effectively with crime problems which increased visibly during the transition
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Leading to a high demand for the services offered by PSCs. Additionally, the role PSCs play also depends on the type of threats and risks facing society. For example, in Serbia, due to a number of recent high profile assassinations, high demand for close protection services can be observed.
The role of PSCs in Russia and other post-Soviet countries must be understood in the context of the dramatic changes that took place in the security situation and security sector reform in those countries in the 1990s. As was the case in their Western counterparts, the maintenance of security can no longer be perceived as the sole preserve of the state in the post-Soviet region. In Russia and in other post-Soviet states, the privatisation of security was not an evolutionary process, but started with a big bang in the early 1990s as an unintended consequence of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ‘wild’ capitalism that followed. In the absence of an effective system for protecting properties and enforcing contracts, the private sector was in desperate need of non-state security providers. Estimates indicate that about 70% of contracts in Russia in the early post-Soviet years, were enforced without recourse to the state, but by private security companies. According to Duncan Hiscock, the role of private security companies in Russia differed from their counterparts in Western Europe. Weak state institutions were not able to preserve the state monopoly of force and PSCs were able to fill the gap quickly by taking over personnel of the downsized state police, intelligence and military. Additionally, widespread corruption resulted in not only individuals in the private sector, but also in the public sector, seeing the opportunity to charge money for providing security. Security became a commodity like any other, almost regardless of who was offering it.
Nevertheless, in many post-Soviet states, private security laws were enacted early on in the 1990s. In Russia, for example, according to 1991 legislation, PSCs are allowed to fulfil more or less the same roles as their counterparts in other CoE states. More specifically, roles covered by Russian legislation are private investigation; protection of persons (bodyguards); guarding of goods including guarding of transport and valuables; planning, installation and maintenance of security alarm installations; and, maintaining order at major public events. These laws were more strictly enforced and amended after Putins’ ascension to power in 2000. Although Ukraine has a substantial private security sector comprising around 3000 licensed companies, employing 33’000 people, this sector is relatively small compared with its governmental counterpart, the State Protection Service (DSO). This is a department of 51’000 people, accountable to the Minister of the Interior and offering the same range of services as PSCs do. The DSO is a hybrid private-public organisation as it is clearly a government organisation, but is financed on the basis of delivered services on a contractual basis. In this sense, it
is a direct competitor of PSCs. In Georgia, it is difficult to assess the role of private security because of the lack of a clear structure of the private security sector and the non-existence of regulatory government bodies. There are no special legal provisions governing PSCs and no statistical data are kept. It has been estimated that around 250 to 300 PSCs are active in Georgia, but only 10 of them are major players. PSCs in Georgia deal primarily with guarding property. Like in Ukraine, the ministry of the interior has one department (Private Property Department), which provides security to other government institutions as well as to private clients on a contractual basis. International police advisors working for the European Commission Delegation in Georgia, have strongly recommended that the governmental Private Property Department be abolished, as it would be in contradiction with principles of modern policing. A major obstacle in abolishing the department is that the ministry of the interior would lose a substantial share of its annual revenues.
In various post-Soviet states, for example in Azerbaijan and Georgia, PSCs play an important role in protecting energy assets, e.g. oil pipelines, petrol pump stations and work camps where oil workers are accommodated.
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