More than four years after the Tamil Nadu Private Security Agencies Rules (TNSPA) were framed and notified, guarding private security guards has not been an easy task.
With the security threat perception changing rapidly, factories, banks and other institutions can no longer afford to hire frail and aged persons as security guards.
In fact, recently Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde even mooted the idea that the manpower in the private security agencies should be adequately trained to tackle security threats like terrorist attacks.
The ground reality is alarming. For instance, the TNPSA Rules says that the security guards must be fit enough to run one km in six minutes.
However, almost all security guards provided by private agencies are not even physically fit to walk this distance at a stretch.
Acknowledging the wide prevalence of such a practice in the industry, Additional Director General of Police (Welfare) R C Kudawala, who is the controlling authority for private security agencies in the State, puts the blame on unregistered agencies.
“After the rules were notified in 2008, it was made mandatory for every private security agency to register with us. But most of them are still operating without registration making regulation difficult,” he says.
In the entire State only 401 private security agencies have so far got themselves registered.
The TNPSA Rules had also mandated that security guards must be given a minimum of 20 days training on basic security aspects before they are employed.
Barring a few agencies, most of them do not even have a name sake training program for the guards.
“In some agencies, they have a 10-day training programme on aspects like burglary prevention, fire safety and first aid. But in most, no such programme is conducted due to shortage of qualified trainers,” says a retired police officer who is running a security agency.
Stakeholders also blame the ambiguous nature of the TNPSA Rules.
While it lists out the physical standards of the security guards, it has conspicuously failed to specify the upper age limit for the guards. Besides, there is no effective monitoring mechanism in place to guard the security agencies.
For example, an officer of the IGP rank, who is stationed at Chennai, has been designated the controlling authority of the agencies. But practically, with no manpower under his control, it is impossible for the controlling authority to periodically verify the compliance by the security agencies. “We are dependent on the local police stations to verify the credentials of the security agencies and whether they comply with the rules or not,” says Kudawala.