Private Security: Implications for Social Control

Social Problems, 30(5): 493-506, 1983

21 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2016

See all articles by Clifford Shearing

Clifford Shearing

University of Cape Town; University of Montreal, School of Criminology; University of New South Wales; University of Toronto

Philip Stenning

Griffith University

Date Written: February 2, 1983


Private security has become a pervasive feature of modern North American policing, both because of its rapid growth since 1960 and because it has invaded the traditional domain of the public police. Because this development has been viewed as an addendum to the criminal justice system, its significance for social control has not been recognized. This paper traces the development of private security in Canada and the United States since 1960, examines the reasons for its present pervasiveness, and explores its essential features: it is non- specialized, victimoriented, and relies on organizational resources as sanctions. We conclude that private security is having a major impact on the nature of social control.

Suggested Citation

Shearing, Clifford D and Stenning, Philip, Private Security: Implications for Social Control (February 2, 1983). Social Problems, 30(5): 493-506, 1983, Available at SSRN: or

Clifford D Shearing (Contact Author)

University of Cape Town ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, Western Cape 7701
South Africa


University of Montreal, School of Criminology ( email )

C.P. 6128 succursale Centre-ville
Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7

University of New South Wales ( email )


University of Toronto ( email )

Robarts Library
130 St. George Street, Room 8001
Toronto, ON M5S 1A5
416-978-3720 Ext. 234 (Phone)
416-978-4195 (Fax)

Philip Stenning

Griffith University ( email )

170 Kessels Road
Nathan, Queensland QLD 4111

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