What security guards can and can’t do

Security guards are often called upon to use physical force in order to defend themselves, protect property, or maintain public safety. In such cases, it is important for security personnel to understand what constitutes reasonable use of force and when it is appropriate for them to take action. 

This article provides an overview of the legal limits on using physical force in a professional security environment, as well as tips for using verbal de-escalation techniques instead of resorting to violence. Knowing when and how much force can be used legally will help ensure that security professionals remain on the right side of the law while performing their duties.

Using physical force

When it comes to using physical force in their line of work isn’t always clear. So, let’s take a closer look at reasonable use of force and what the law says about it.

First and foremost, security professionals must understand that physical force should only be used as a last resort. It shouldn’t be used just because someone is being loud or disorderly. An important legal concept in this area is the “reasonable person standard.” This means that no matter how you respond to a situation, you must be able to prove that a reasonable person would have done the same thing in your shoes.

When it comes to physical force, keep in mind that the amount of force used must always be proportional to the threat. This means that if someone is physically threatening, you can use physical force to protect yourself or property. However, if someone is simply being loud or disruptive, physical force should not be used under any circumstances.

Identify Themselves

Another thing security personnel should keep in mind is that they must always identify themselves and show their SIA licence if requested. This is an important legal requirement that ensures security professionals are held accountable for their actions and helps protect them from false accusations or claims of misuse of force.

Legal consequences of misusing force

If security professionals misuse physical force, they could face serious legal repercussions. This could include civil or criminal charges, depending on the severity of the incident and the extent of the injuries caused. 

Misuse of force can also lead to loss of certification or professional license, as well as monetary damages for any victims involved in the incident.

Verbal de-escalation

Security professionals aren’t just expected to be physically strong; they’re also expected to be verbally adept. Verbal de-escalation techniques can help defuse potentially violent situations before force is ever needed. 

These techniques include using calming language, giving clear instructions, and showing empathy towards the other person. Additionally, listening carefully to the other person’s

Tips on using verbal de-escalation techniques

Verbal de-escalation techniques can be an effective way to defuse a potentially violent situation. Security professionals should focus on speaking in a calm and respectful manner, as this can help to defuse the situation and make it easier to resolve peacefully. It’s also important to listen carefully and give the other person time to speak without interruption.

By using these verbal de-escalation techniques, security professionals can help to prevent the situation from escalating and ensure that everyone remains safe.

Detaining someone

In some cases, security personnel may be called upon to detain someone. In these cases, it’s important to use reasonable force and only take the necessary steps to secure the individual. 

This could include using handcuffs or other restraining devices if needed. However, they should never take more extreme measures such as punching or kicking a person in custody.

Searching someone

Security personnel may also be asked to search a person for weapons or other prohibited items. In these cases, they should always use reasonable force and never take more extreme measures such as using excessive force or violating the individual’s privacy rights.


So, it’s important for security professionals to understand what reasonable use of force is and when they are legally allowed to use physical force. They should also remember that misuse of force could lead to serious legal repercussions, so taking the time to understand and use verbal de-escalation techniques is always a good idea. By following these tips, security professionals can ensure that they remain within the legal limits when it comes to using physical force.