What to do if you have a complaint about a security guard in B.C. - InfoNews

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What to do if you have a complaint about a security guard in B.C.

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March 27, 2019 - 8:00 PM

KAMLOOPS — If you have a negative encounter with a private security guard, you might want to talk to their boss, you might even report it to police but many people don’t realize you can also complain to a licensing authority. 

Altercations like the one captured on video at a Kamloops grocery store earlier this month are rare and viewers can make their own decisions about what was fair and what wasn’t. But the real decision on culpability — if a complaint were made — would come from the Security Programs Division of the provincial government. That’s the agency that licenses and enforces regulations and training for private security.

As private security guards proliferate in number, even in some cases being used in lieu of actual police officers, citizens should know they are overseen much the way police officers are.  

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General confirmed a complaint was not filed in the March 15 case when an alleged shoplifter incident at Cain’s Your Independent Grocer was forcefully detained, raising some concern from some of the hundreds of people who shared it. 

The five-minute video shows a security guard and an unidentified man in plainclothes physically holding down an 18-year-old man by his arms and legs. The suspect was later arrested by Kamloops RCMP and police also discovered he had an outstanding warrant.

It raises questions about excessive use of force, which is difficult for a layperson to fully comprehend. If you aren’t sure if a security officer used excessive force you can file a complaint with police, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General says.

Last year, the ministry’s security program division investigated three complaints involving the use of unnecessary force in regard to security workers.

If the Security Programs Division receives a complaint of unnecessary use of force, the provincial regulator will determine if an investigation is warranted. If that is the case, the Deputy Registrar will assign a special provincial constable to the case to investigate the complaint. This involves collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, reviewing testimonies and footage if any, the ministry says in a statement.

The Security Programs Division can also impose several consequences against a licensed worker if an investigation concludes a security worker is found to have used unnecessary force. These include more education, retraining, a warning notice, violation ticket, suspension or removal of a security licence.

With that being said, only a police investigation can result in criminal charges. A complainant must submit a complaint to the Security Programs Divisions and police separately.

The licensing authority says complaints they receive are not submitted to police.

“Police will inform the [Security Programs Division] only when there have been charges made against a security guard,” the ministry statement says. “Otherwise, the only way [the division] would become aware of a complaint made to police is if the complainant also submits a complaint to the Security Programs Division."

In B.C. there are currently more than 28,000 security workers.

For more information on complaints involving security guards, or to file a complaint, go here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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