Complaints against Security Guards (5:VI)
Complaints against licensed security guards can be filed with the Registrar of Security Programs Division, Ministry of Justice. Complaints can relate to the licensing of a security business or security employee, about the conduct or behaviour of a security employee, or about the use of equipment. Filing a complaint is free. Complaining against an unlicensed guard should be done directly to the employer. Most security guards in BC are now required to be licensed under the Security Services Act, SBC 2007, c 30.
B. Filing the Complaint
Complaints must be made in writing within one year of the incident. Complaint forms can be obtained by contacting the Ministry or online.
Ministry of Justice - Policing and Security Branch, Security Programs Division
Once a complaint has been filed, the Registrar will determine whether the matter is within its jurisdiction. If it is, then an investigator will be assigned. The complainant will be notified of the investigation by letter. Complaints can result in a warning notice, a violation ticket, or reconsideration of the officer’s licence status.
Like police, licensed and unlicensed security guards can be sued civilly.
NOTE: In Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users v. British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, 2015 BCSC 534, the BC Supreme Court rendered a decision regarding the Downtown Ambassadors, private security guards hired by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association to patrol public space. The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) alleged that the guards discriminated against individuals who appear to be homeless or addicted to drugs by limiting their access to public space (e.g., sidewalks) on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, and physical and mental disability, contrary to section 8 o the BC Human Rights Code. The Court found that the Downtown Ambassadors program had engaged in discriminatory conduct against homeless people. Although homelessness is not a condition protected under the Human Rights Code, race and disability are. VANDU successfully argued that homeless people are disproportionately Aboriginal and disabled, and that these findings were enough to show discrimination. The case has been appealed to the BC Court of Appeals and a decision is forthcoming.
NOTE: Pivot Legal Society claims this case is an example of why social condition should be included as an enumerated ground. Please see the Pivot Legal blog for further information.
NOTE: Individuals should be cautioned that this complaint process may not achieve satisfactory results. The Security Programs Division is limited in its ability to successfully review the conduct of security guards, both because of statutory limitations to its powers and budget constraints.
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