KARACHI: The Sindh police are stepping up efforts to scrutinise the personal records of private security guards, a move that, if successful, could help companies clean out their ranks of men with criminal records.
The Sindh Police’s forensic department has taken up the task. So far, it has processed records of 1,500 security guards; 17 of them had criminal records. The police say that this move is to help avert the growing number of bank robberies. The demand for security guards at residences, offices and banks has risen over the years, but guards have been implicated in many of the thefts. Security guards were found involved in a bank robbery at Tipu Sultan, and also at the country’s largest bank robbery in 2009 at Askari Bank, when Rs311 million was stolen.
Sindh police forensic department AIG Munir Sheikh told The Express Tribune that it will take time to complete the process as about 48 hours have to be spent for the complete verification of one security guard and also because companies are sending in 10 to 12 records a day. “We are scrutinising in two ways – cross checking with the police criminal records as well as with NADRA’s database of fingerprints and CNICs,” he explained. “We first match with the 400,000-record strong provincial database and then with the national database which has a record of 150,000 criminals.”
He said the police then inform private security companies if any of their guards has a criminal record and asks them to investigate further. He said he has also asked senior police officers to allow the department to scrutinise people employed as domestic help, etc in the upscale areas.
“Now we will have CNIC records that we didn’t have before, which will make it easier to trace crimes,” AIG Shaikh explained.
Technically, the police are also supposed to verify the CNICs of guards who are applying to security firms. However, the All Pakistan Security Agencies Association (APSAA) has complained in the past that delays in this process result in a backlog.
APSAA’s Col (retd) Tauqirul Islam told The Express Tribune that it is a good step taken by the police but only six security guards have been found in the wrong and two of them had criminal records over domestic disputes. Islam also blamed companies that mistreat their employees.
On the job
There are about 247 registered private companies in Sindh with about 45,000 to 50,000 security guards. These include about 40 companies in Karachi with about 20,000 security guards. Security guards are paid Rs8,000 monthly.
Most of the guards employed to secure large scale businesses and high profile residences often do not know about tactics. Most of these guards do not have any knowledge about security and tactics. Almost 75 per cent of these guards are unaware of the security and use of weapons. Out of these 50 per cent are young boys from the age of 17 to 28 years, who join these security companies due to unemployment. A private security guard, Imran Ahmed, 26, said he had passed his Matriculation exam and was currently doing an Intermediate certificate course privately. He said that the security company he worked at had hired him only after checking his NIC. He had not been provided with any training on weapons. Security companies either provide guards with training or send them to APSAA’s school on Sharae Faisal.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.