A report released Tuesday by market research firm The Freedonia Group projects that the demand for private security in the U.S. will grow 4.7 percent annually over the next several years, reaching a total of $65.9 billion in 2012.
Among the growth factors cited by the report include a perceived risk of crime, as well as the notion that authorities are overwhelmed and unable to provide adequate security.
The Freedonia Groupâ€™s report, titled "Private Security Services to 2012", also cites the privatization of some public safety operations like guarding government buildings and managing correctional facilities as reasons why the private security market will continue its steady growth.
"Weâ€™re in an exciting time of growth right now," said John Sacht, president of Philadelphia-based private security services firm Day & Zimmerman. Sacht added that he felt Day & Zimmerman is "growing at probably greater than market or industry rates."
Michael Cooley, the companyâ€™s regional vice president for the South added that the need for private security will become even greater over the next several years as new government regulations begin to have an impact on several industries.
"There is a trend for increased government regulation," he said. "Right now youâ€™re seeing it in the chemical industry, both with the MARSEC (Maritime Security) regulations and the CFATS (Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards) regulations, and thatâ€™s forcing companies that may have already had a contract security program to increase both the number of personnel they need, but also the technology and hardened perimeter portions of their security program that theyâ€™re going to need."
According to Jennifer Mapes, the analyst who authored the Freedonia report, many state run agencies such as court houses and correctional facilities have turned to private security contractors as a way to cut costs.
"Continuing changes in regulations, including background searches and training requirements, and changes in security technology make the use of contract security services more effective and less expensive than developing or maintaining an in-house security department," she said.
If the economy continues in its current downward direction, Cooley said that that will also contribute to an increase in private security demand due to the notion -- either perceived or real -- that crime rates increase in a down economy. Another reason for solid growth in the private security industry, said Cooley, is that government agencies have turned to private firms to secure their facilities now that many of the U.S. troops staffing these positions have been sent to serve in Iraq. He said this privatization of guard services at government facilities is likely to continue, even as troops return.
"The (private security) companies that can best utilize the use of security technology, along with the human element, along with expertise and consulting programs and systems in place are the ones that are really going to excel over the next three or four years," said Cooley.