Recent arrest in the Official Journal has allowed some private security agents to equip themselves with handguns and rifles. Of the 170,000 private agents, 2,000 to 3,000 agents could be involved, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
A framed evolution
The carrying of weapons for private security agents is not new. Carriers of funds and securities, persons involved in the protection of nuclear vessels and sites, or agents for the close protection of potentially threatened personalities may already be equipped with handguns.
Since January 1, 2018, Decree 2017-1844 – which follows the law on public security of February 28, 2017 – has broadened the field of action of the weapons of agents and solidified the legal framework: according to the missions, the agents can be equipped with weapons of category B (firearms of hand and shoulder) or category D (batons of defense, batons telescopic, aerosols, tonfas …). The recent ministerial decrees of 28 September 2018, published in the Official Journal on 8 October, specify the conditions under which agents may be armed (conditions and training content, technical requirements for the acquisition and storage of weapons, etc.). :
- Order of 28 September 2018 on special conditions for the acquisition, possession and retention of weapons that may be used for certain private security activities
- Order of 28 September 2018 amending the Decree of 27 June 2017 on specifications for initial training in private security activities
- Order of 28 September 2018 amending the Decree of 27 February 2017 on the continuing training of private security agents
- Order of 28 September 2018 amending the Decree of 1 July 2016 on the certification of training organizations for private security activities and private research activities
Among the provisions already known to the decree, we know that to be able to employ armed agents, private companies will have to obtain a double authorization: that of the prefect of department and that of the CNAPS. The former will only grant authorizations for the acquisition and possession of weapons to the security companies concerned in the event of a verified threat to the place to be monitored. The second will ensure that the company meets the conditions to carry out its activity, that the agent has followed an appropriate training and submit the same agent to a morality investigation. Also, the weapons will be kept for 5 years, with a lot limited to 50 rounds for 12 months. Therefore, the new armed agents should not be in service before mid 2019.
Towards strengthening the role of private companies?
By entrusting more security missions to private companies, France follows the trend initiated by other European countries, such as Spain: the country has more private security agents than police and gendarmes combined; and nearly 30,000 private armed agents, 3 times more than in France. Spanish agents train like police officers and have to practice shooting each year. So, the Spanish model, a way forward? Nothing is less certain when we know that our private security companies have not developed this “culture of the weapon”, and that the hourly cost of an armed agent is not necessarily profitable for these companies …