Policy Roundtable on Private Security Companies in the Caribbean By: Geoff Burt | Jamaica | Jul 12, 2013

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending a policy roundtable organized by Project Ploughshares, a Canadian NGO specializing in peace and conflict issues, and the University of the West Indies (UWI), in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. This conference was unusual in the sense that it featured an uncommonly broad range of participants, including senior managers of the region’s largest PSCs (industry), the head of Jamaica’s Private Security Regulatory Authority and key legislators pushing for the implementation of St. Lucia’s Private Security Act (regulators), representatives of CARICOM (policy-makers) and case study researchers from the university (academics). This group was brought together to comment on a draft report analyzing the industry in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Lucia.

I value these kinds of events in part for the bits of inside information one rarely finds in official reports. Among the most interesting of these was the role of the Cricket World Cup—hosted for the first time in the Caribbean in 2007—in the passage of private security regulations in a number of Caribbean countries. Because of insurance concerns relating to the provision of event security, the International Cricket Council (ICC) indicated that unless regulatory frameworks were in place, countries would not be allowed host matches during the event. This was the central impetus for legislation passed in a number of countries. Once the event ended, however, the momentum for change was lost and the legislation was never effectively implemented.

There is now a sense of renewed momentum towards greater regulation in the region. New legislation is in development and nearing the review stage in St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Regional organizations have taken note of the issue as well, with the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy (passed in February 2013) noted that: “the integration of the private security industry into any security plan is therefore critical in achieving a safe and secure environment for CARICOM.” In the strategy, member states agree to “encourage a more cooperative approach between law enforcement and the private security industry in the Region.” CARICOM, for its part, has committed to developing model legislation and a CARICOM Code of Conduct and Ethics for the private security industry.

Based on the feedback received at the workshop, Project Ploughshares will publish a comprehensive report including detailed case study information, as well as a policy brief synthesizing the main findings. This is scheduled to be published in the fall, and will be featured in our blog when it is released.


Geoff Burt is the Vice President of the Security Governance Group, a Canadian consulting firm specializing in the security dimensions of statebulding and peacebuilding.