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The recent law 5/2014 of the 4th of April on private security (in Spanish Ley 5/2014, de 4 de abril, de Seguridad Privada) came into effect on the 4th of June 2014 and has generating a lot of criticism. It is an update of the law 23/1992 of the 30 of July regulating the usage of private security firms and the behaviour of their employees. This law has a very wide range of applications; covering private guards services (the guards that for example work in Banks and shopping malls), private detectives, alarm and video security systems companies, IT security firms and bodyguards.

Here are few of the many changes that this law will introduce:

Extended area and scope of intervention for private security employees

Before the change, private guards could only operate in closed private spaces, such as  shopping malls, industrial facilities, private urbanisations, Banks and supermarkets. The new law will allow security firms to operate outdoors, even in public spaces like pedestrian streets or during open-air events.

The 1992 law allowed private guards to intervene or arrest people only within the context of offences relating to the object of their protection. The new law will change this and will greatly extend the scope of their powers. For example guards will be able to arrest a person witnessed of a crime unrelated to their specific protection activity. Arrest and searches will be only temporary containment measures while waiting for the police or the Guardia Civil to intervene. Private Guards will not  be allowed to be involved in the interrogation of suspects. Nevertheless the law does not clearly state what private guards are allowed to do and what they are not creating a level of ambiguity.

Lower requirements for security personnel

The requirements for becoming a security guard will be lowered. In particular the limitation reserving the profession to nationals from Spain and European Union has been eased allowing people from countries with specific agreements with Spain. The requirement of having an no criminal record is changing as well as the wording has now been changed to  no “intentional crimes” (“delitos dolosos” in Spanish). Physical ability requirements will also be eased. This last point in particular will make the profession very accessible and has already created a dramatic increase in the applications to schools for security professionals.

Private security firms as a complement for police forces

Private security firms will be allowed to work in cooperation with police forces for tasks related to public security. It will be possible therefore to have situations in which police forces and private security personnel will cooperate in the supervision of large public events, like concerts or demonstrations.

Prison perimeter control

In Spain the control of the outer perimeter of prisons is responsibility of the Guardia Civil (the Mossos d´Esquadra in Catalonia or the Ertzaintza in the Basque country). The new law will allow private security firms to take on this task, freeing police officers for other duties like citizen security.

Video security, Private Investigators and IT security firms

For the first time video surveillance systems, the activity of private investigators and the data collected by IT security companies will be regulated, as their activity can potentially interfere with citizen privacy.

While one of the main objectives of the law is to reduce the total cost of security for public administrations, analysts are forecasting that these new measures will instead increase the total costs, defeating one of its main objectives.