Private sector security companies now routinely provide services that used to be the sole preserve of the police. Clifford Shearing argues that this is a positive development because people can choose which policing service to buy, enabling them to gain greater control over their lives.
While acknowledging that the poor cannot afford private security, he counters the view that government must re-establish a monopoly on policing in order to ensure equality of access. Instead, he suggests, people should be given greater control at local level over how state resources earmarked for a particular function are spent, thus giving them more choice in allocating money to services that most effectively meet their needs. The author outlines the "Zwelethemba model" of community-controlled peace committees who are responsible for the governance of security and are paid for their work, and notes that the South African Law Commission is currently preparing legislation that will recognise key elements of the model.