Crime, insecurity, and corruption: Considering the growth of urban private security

Jeffrey Todd Garmany, Ana Paula Galdeano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
315 Downloads (Pure)


In this article we call into question the growing presence of private security
companies (PSCs) in cities throughout the world. Though PSCs have grown
enormously in recent decades, there exist few academic analyses to consider their
broad reaching effects. Researchers still have much to understand about the
relationships between PSCs and changing patterns of urban development,
governance, and public security. PSCs are prevalent in both the Global North and
South, yet their presence is perhaps most intense in emerging countries, where
social inequality is high and public security is tenuous. As such, in this article we
draw on specific examples from the city of São Paulo, Brazil, where demand is
soaring for private security and PSCs operate in complicated networks between the
state, private capital, and organized crime. Our analysis draws attention to the
paradoxes of urban private security, beginning with the fact that public insecurity is
in fact good for PSC business. By reflecting on existing published resources – and
making connections across several disciplines – our goals in this article are threefold:
1) to highlight the need for more research on PSCs in urban settings; 2) to draw
attention to the ways private security is changing urban space, and; 3) to suggest
that the growth of PSCs, rather than being representative of increased public
security, may in some cases coincide with rising levels of urban crime and insecurity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1120
Issue number5
Early online date25 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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