Understanding Your Rights When Interacting With A Security Guard

Posted on: 12 January 2015

Very few people understand the legal powers and responsibilities held by a security guard. Since a guard isn't technically a sworn police officer, some people assume that guards have no right to detain people or make arrests. However, this isn't always the case. By understanding the legal powers held by a security guard and knowing your rights when interacting with a guard, you can avoid legal troubles down the road.


First of all, understand that security guards do have the right to make an arrest--provided that the circumstances add up. When this occurs, this is known as a citizen's arrest; according to Canadian law, a citizen's arrest may be made in the event that a guard witnesses a criminal offense take place on the property they're authorized to protect. Furthermore, if a security guard witnesses you running from an actual police officer, he or she also has the right to make a citizen's arrest at that time. This is why many security guards carry handcuffs, even though they don't have any legal police powers.


When it comes to detaining a person, a security guard's powers are not quite as strong. In fact, it's very difficult for a security guard to legally detain a person unless they physically saw the crime take place. In other words, a security guard who suspects a person committed a crime cannot legally detain that person for questioning. They can surely try to ask the person questions, but that person has no legal obligation to answer them or to remain on the premises. However, a security guard can contact local police, who can detain and question a suspect without having witnessed the crime take place first-hand.


Finally, security guards do not have the right to search a person or his or her property. The only exception to this is a situation where a legal citizen's arrest is made. In such a case, the guard may pat down the suspect or search the suspect's bag, but should leave the job of conducting a full search to the real police. Furthermore, a security guard can ask for permission to search a person, but that person is under no legal obligation to consent to that search.

Now that you have a better understanding of a security guard's legal rights in Canada, you'll be in a better place to conduct yourself and protect your rights when interacting with guards down the road. Talk to your local security guard experts, such as Palisade Group Security Service, for more information.