Whether they’re patrolling shopping malls, conducting screening at airports or protecting VIPs, private security guards have become an increasingly common sight across the world. In many countries, they are armed with handguns and even dress in uniforms similar to the police. The sector has experienced huge growth in recent years and today there are an estimated 20 million private security workers worldwide while the industry is worth approximately $180 billion. That is expected to grow even further to $240 billion by 2020, greater than the GDP of 100 countries including Portugal, Romania and Hungary. According to research conducted by The Guardian, half of the planet’s population lives in countries where there are more private security workers than police officers.
The following infographic provides an overview of some of the key countries analyzed with India having one of the most glaring disparities. There are an estimated 7 million private security workers in India compared to just 1.4 million police officers. The story is very similar in China where about 5 million people are employed in private security compared to a police stength of 2.7 million. The U.S. Department of Labor statistics claims that there are over 1.1 million private security guards in the U.S. compared to 666,000 police officers. Things are more even in Germany although private security still has the edge on the Polizei by a margin of 2,000 individuals.
The private security industry really started flourishing during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when companies like Blackwater (now called Academi) committed droves of employees to fulfill lucrative contracts. That’s only part of the story with increasing levels of global inequality driving the sector’s meteoric rise. With more and more individuals joining the global billionaire club, demand for services such as alarm monitoring and armored transport are skyrocketing, resulting in private security companies becoming a symbol of the global wealth divide. Soaring demand has bode well for companies like G4S, the world’s largest private security firm, which boasts 585,000 employees and revenues of nearly $10 billion.