Private security guards in B.C.:
Your rights and their responsibilities

Some of the info’s available after all,
no thanks to the B.C. government


The B.C. Human Rights Coalition provides some information about what security guards can and can’t do, and how to make a formal complaint.

The BCHRC information appears to have been compiled in 2007 but anticipates legislative changes that were to be phased in after that. Although this info is somewhat limited and dated, it’s far more exhaustive than anything I’ve found from the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, which regulates security guards.

The law and complaint system have changed since I went through the process. At that time the solicitor general’s staff twice told me they won’t have any contact with a complainant except to verify that the complaint has been received. So there was no way of knowing how — or if — a complaint was dealt with. I still don’t know whether that was the ministry’s formal policy or simply a staff attitude.

If the latter case was true, that attitude might still prevail. The solicitor general’s department is notorious for weak leadership. Since 2008 the B.C. government has changed its minister of solicitor general nine times. Three of them resigned under a cloud.

(Update: In February 2012 the B.C. government formally united the ministries of Solicitor General and Attorney General into a single department, the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General. That puts two key areas of responsibility under Shirley Bond, a manifestly incapable career politician. Bond’s lack of ability strongly suggests that other people direct her department’s policies and day-to-day operations.)

It’s still not clear to what extent the ministry allows companies to get around laws and regulations regarding security guards simply by hiring unlicensed security guards.

It’s worth emphasizing that security guards have no more right to arrest people than any other citizen. An arrest by a security guard is a citizen’s arrest, which is covered by Section 494 (1), (2) and (3) of the Canadian Criminal Code.

But some Vancouver police officers fully support illegal and even violent arrests by security guards.

Also, some Vancouver police routinely break the Privacy Act for the benefit of security companies.

With that in mind, it’s useful to know the Pivot Legal Society has written a DIY guide to suing police and private security guards in small claims court.

Here’s some additional information about lawsuits.