Security guards without security clearance
RAWALPINDI, Dec 26: According to a report compiled by the Punjab Home Department, just over 40 per cent of security guards working in the banking sector have received security clearance from law-enforcement agencies.
The special report sent to the federal government on December 15, 2012, recommended that the State Bank of Pakistan and the Ministry of Interior must intervene and ensure that private security firms get clearance for their guards.
Other recipients of the report included governor State Bank of Pakistan Lahore, additional inspector general of Special Branch and divisional police chiefs.
In recent times, a number of security breaches and bank robberies had been committed by security guards themselves or had been carried out with their connivance.
All banks had been requested to follow the revised protocols. To see if their orders were being complied with, the field staff of the police department conducted random checks on banks to assess how many guards had been cleared.
The final field staff report was dismal: 809 banks in the province had 2,060 guards sourced from 381 security companies.
However, only 842 guards were found to have the requisite clearance while 1,218 (60 per cent) lacked the relevant documentation.
The Punjab Home Department expressed concern over the non-cooperation of security companies and banking authorities in getting security clearance for the security guards, which is a potential threat to men and money in the banking sector.
The home department also directed the divisional police chiefs and divisional commissioners in the province to take necessary action against banks who failed to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP).
Nazir Ahmed, a retired major who owns a private security company in Islamabad, told Dawn that the federal and provincial governments have special cells to process clearance requests for security guards.
The fee for verification charged by the Special Branch Rawalpindi for a private security guard is Rs500.
Maj (retired) Ahmed said that under the procedure for the security clearance, when a person is selected for the job of a guard, his security clearance is sought from the local police and his national identity card is also verified from National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra). If the applicant is from army, then he is verified from the army.
Later, the final verification for security clearance is obtained from the local councilor.
“Yes, there are some small companies which avoid getting security clearance of their guards. Now all of the companies operating in the country have to provide lists of their security guards with security clearance to the government, otherwise its licence will be cancelled,” he added.
Superintendent of Police Headquarters DSP Tahir Sikander seconded this and said: “It is mandatory for a security guard to get security clearance from Special Branch before joining the company. Licences of companies are cancelled if their personnel have not been cleared.”
He claimed that security guards have been contacting the Special Branch these days for security clearance.
“Similarly, some private guards are being trained by the police at Rawalpindi police lines these days. But the security clearances of those selected for police training are also checked before getting them enrolled,” he added.
Meanwhile, former commissioner Rawalpindi Zahid Saeed was of the view that he did not see any physical fitness or training for the security guards deployed at banks or other business centres.
He said: “If the medical examinations of the security guards are carried out, most of them would be found medically unfit and lack training. The trend of young people towards the job of security guard has been discouraging due to low salary and poor working conditions.”