Contraloría cites concerns with oversight of security firms

There are major management flaws with Costa Rica’s private security services, according to a Contraloría General de la República report released Monday. The country’s government accountability office concluded that privatized security, which is regulated by the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, is mismanaged and underfunded.

A laundry list of faults made up the Contraloría’s study, which stated that these oversights greatly increase risks for the general population. Here are some highlighted conclusions:

The security ministry lacks crucial resources to ensure the control and supervision of these private firms are matching guidelines set in the regulatory law, the Ley de Regulación de los Servicios de Seguridad Privados.

Registration information and records are outdated, hampering customers from receiving crucial information that can allow for timely decision-making.

Monitoring instruments used to make inspections do not comply with the law.

There are no regular reports on security personnel, facility location, weapon inventory, and other information necessary for security workers and the firms’ clientele.

The study added that no improvements were seen in the last year in areas of control, verification, or supervision of security services. Since the regulatory law was enacted in 2003, private security in Costa Rica has seen exceptional growth. Around 30,000 people and 1,200 companies provide security services, the Contraloría estimated.

Authorities from the public security ministry responded by saying this study was largely carried out by 2012, meaning it should not speak to the new administration’s abilities.

The ministry’s press office said many of the faults have already been corrected and that they have revoked licenses and cancelled permits for those security businesses deemed as the worst offenders.

Servicios de Seguridad Privados director Elbert González said his team focused on the social area of punishing those that don’t comply with laws and making sure security workers are given at least minimum wage. He added that they are working on issues of gun control, including how many registered weapons each security company is permitted.

By Michael Krumholtz
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

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