With an estimated 490 000 active private security officers in South Africa working in armed response, cash-in-transit and guarding, South African citizens are spending approximately R45 billion a year on private security, making South Africa's private security industry the fourth largest in the world per capita.
Stuart Clarkson, Managing Executive of Fidelity ADT, which now forms part of the larger Fidelity Security Group, says that with crime statistics remaining at unacceptable levels, the private security industry plays a pivotal role in supporting the South African Police Service. In a 2016 Stats SA Victims of Crime survey it was noted that the most feared type of crime was house robbery - so much so that 50% of households have taken physical measures to protect their homes and 11% of households employ private security services.
According to Mr Clarkson, the nature of violent crime has necessitated a significant investment in resources to protect officers who place their lives in danger almost every day. Fidelity ADT has invested more than R20 million over the last two years in bullet-resistant vehicle armour for its fleet of 740 vehicles, as well as bullet-resistant Kevlar uniforms for its reaction and security officers. "All our vehicles are now reinforced with Kevlar door inlays and clip-on ballistic protection window inserts. These additions to our vehicles provide optimal protection against small calibre munitions, most commonly used in domestic crime," he says.
The company also uses in-vehicle camera systems which record all activities inside and in front of the vehicle. This helps during criminal investigations and accidents to ensure the company has as much information available as possible to assist the SAPS, and the video footage is also used as part of the company's ongoing training of officers.
"Over the years, as technology has improved and the nature of crime has changed, it has become important for the private security industry to evolve in order to adequately protect its officers. Today Kevlar jackets and ballistic plating for our officers' uniforms and reinforced armour in our vehicles with the addition of Kevlar door inlays and ballistic glass is a non-negotiable," concludes Mr Clarkson.