Private security officers in Turkey now their own ‘army’

Private security officers in Turkey now their own ‘army’

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Private security officers in Turkey now their own ‘army’

Private guards receive non-armed certifications after 90 hours of training. Hürriyet photo

The number of Turkish private security officers has reached 217,000, greater than the combined military forces of Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Holland, Norway and the Czech Republic, according to data from a sector organization.

“Even though there aren’t specific figures as to the size of the sector’s economy, we believe that in general it ranges between $3-6 billion,” Private Security Associations Federation President Bülent Perut told Anatolia news agency in an interview published Aug. 28.

In Turkey, 886,000 people hold private security certificates, confirming that one has received appropriate education and training in the field. Some 604,000 of these people also hold a security ID, the state authorization to work as a guard.

Perut told Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview yesterday that many security guards preferred other jobs when they are available, because of the low wages and
poor level of social rights in the security sector.

Some 1,430 security firms

Currently there are 1,430 security firms in Turkey, and 737 training centers for private security officers, according to the Security Headquarters’ Private Security Department’s figures.

Candidates receive non-armed certifications after 90 hours of training, but an armed certification requires a further 30 hours.

Although sector data is not that accurate, Perut estimates the rate of private guards who are armed at between 25 and 30 percent.

The increase in security firms and guards is closely related to urbanization, Perut said. As people tend to live in smaller families, the need for secure residences increases, he said.

Some 60 percent of the private security guards in Turkey are employed in the three large cities. Istanbul tops the list.

Efforts to allow the police to focus on their core missions, rather than bureaucratic work or guarding bridges and dams, for example, also contributes to the greater demand for private security, he told the Daily News.

Western boom

Growth in the private security sector has gained momentum in both the European Union and the United States since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and now private security services are found everywhere in the world, Perut said. “After the events of 9/11, there has been a change in the way people view private security as well as national security, and this is felt in every sphere of life,” he said.
The private security sector not only contributes to Turkey’s overall employment, but also supports other sectors like the textile and tourism sectors, Perut said. As a sector that really boosts the country’s overall employment, the private security business needs more government backing, he said.

“We want the government to support our sector. In a country that is capable of providing loans to the IMF, we want to be able to receive long-term low-interest loans from state banks, as well as support from the Social Security Institution and the Finance Ministry. With this support, our sector will be able to develop even more,” he said.

Perut also said the sector companies were carefully. inspected. As an example, he said, some 950 guards were active at the Beşiktaş Galatasaray football match in Istanbul over the weekend and this required paperwork for each both with the governorship and the social security body.