One aspect of the job that all security guards will have to conduct at one time or another is a security search. This will involve searching bodies, property (ie bags) vehicles or even buildings.
Clearly the type of environment you work as a security guard will determine the extent and how often you need to search someone.
An airport security guard will spend the majority of his day carrying out security searches. It is vital for the role, and extra on-the-job training will often be given if you are a first time airport security guard.
Nonetheless, there are some basic rules that you should understand when it comes to conducting security searches, no matter what area you work as a security officer.
Are you permitted to make a search?
It is very important that you know the full extent of your powers to conduct a security search.
Find out from your supervisor or assignment instructions whether it is part of your job responsibility.
If it isn’t, when a search needs to be made, you will need to call the help of the person that is responsible for doing so. Do not get your self into potential legal trouble by conducting body searches if you are not supposed to.
Is the Person Aware That Searches Are Necessary?
Are you working in an area where the member of the public is aware that a search will be necessary? Taking the airport example, a body and property search is all part of the security protocol. When a person is aware that they will be searched, they are obviously a whole lot more amenable.
If it comes as a surprise to them, you, your colleagues and your employer need to address this with better communication.
Discretion is also key, especially when dealing with a public figure. It is often good practice to conduct such a search in private. Even then it can be difficult to save the subject from embarrassment if they have already been recognised.
For example, Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons was reportedly subjected to a strip-search by airport security who considered him a suspicious character.
As he was led away to be searched, a little boy cried out, “Ha, ha!” in imitation of Nelson on The Simpsons. Groening found the boy’s mockery the most irritating thing about the incident.
Although the same rules apply to every individual, a degree of common sense should be applied in the understanding that people’s circumstances do vary.
Getting Consent Before The Search
As an extension of the above, if you are conducting searches at the entrance to a building you should not just grab a person’s bag and start the search. Inform them that a search is necessary and ask to take their bag in order to make the search.
If the person does not consent to this, (which they are perfectly entitled to do), you can prevent them from entering the building.
The Different Kinds of Security Searches
As we have already mentioned, certain premises will call for the search of visitors. Either everyone such as an airport, or at random as entry to a night club. In a club it could be that a person is carrying a concealed weapon like a boot knife, so it is important to be as thorough as possible. Know the policy where you are working so that you can carry out the correct security search procedures.
This will often be done at the same time as a search of a person. Again the frequency, (either everyone or random) is determined by the policy where you are working.
Certain premises will require a vehicle check too. Most obviously international customs, or secure entrances to important government buildings.
Types of Security Search
This is the standard security policy as governed by your employer and / or wider national regulations. These will be clearly stated in your assignement instructions and made clear as part of your induction to the security role. They will often be conducted on a daily basis.
If a specific piece of information or a revelation is made on a security issue, search protocol may change in response to it.
How to Correctly Conduct a Security Search
The security guard must be professional when conducting a security search, it is important to be mindful of the fact it is an intrusive procedure and you are relying on permission to carry out the search.
What to do if a discovery is made
Again, the procedures outlined for your specific role and work place will dictate the correct course of action should you find anything as a result of a search.