Private security and investigative services - PSISA

What is Private Security and Investigative Services Act (PSISA)

What is the Private Security and Investigative Services Act (PSISA)?


The Private Security and Investigative Services Act (PSISA) is legislation that regulates the private security industry in Ontario, Canada. Enacted in 2005, the PSISA aims to ensure the safety and security of individuals and businesses by establishing standards for licensing, training, and conduct of security guards, private investigators, and other related professionals.

This article will delve into the key aspects of the PSISA, its impact on the private security industry, and its significance in the Canadian context.

Overview of the PSISA

The PSISA is administered by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in Ontario. It applies to a wide range of security and investigative services, including but not limited to:

1. Security guards: Individuals employed to protect people, property, and assets.
2. Private investigators: Professionals engaged in gathering information, conducting surveillance, and providing investigative services.
3. Loss prevention workers: Employees responsible for preventing theft and minimizing losses in retail and commercial settings.
4. Alarm system installers and operators: Individuals involved in the installation, maintenance, and monitoring of alarm systems.
5. Armored car guards: Personnel responsible for the secure transportation of valuables.

Licensing and Training Requirements

Under the PSISA, individuals and businesses providing private security and investigative services must obtain a license from the Private Security and Investigative Services Branch (PSISB). The licensing process involves a thorough background check, including criminal record checks, to ensure the suitability of applicants.

To obtain a license, individuals must complete mandatory training programs approved by the PSISB. The training requirements vary depending on the type of service being provided. For example, security guards must complete a basic training course covering topics such as legal powers and responsibilities, emergency response, and use of force. Private investigators, on the other hand, require specialized training in areas such as surveillance techniques, evidence gathering, and privacy laws.

Regulation and Compliance

The PSISA establishes a regulatory framework to ensure compliance with industry standards and ethical conduct. The legislation sets out specific rules and regulations that licensed professionals must adhere to, including:

1. Code of Conduct: Licensed individuals must follow a code of conduct that outlines their responsibilities, obligations, and ethical behaviour. This includes respecting the rights and privacy of individuals, maintaining confidentiality, and acting in the best interest of their clients.

2. Use of Force: Security guards are granted limited powers to use force when necessary to protect themselves, others, or property. However, the PSISA strictly regulates the use of force, requiring guards to use only the minimum amount necessary and to follow specific guidelines and protocols.

3. Privacy and Confidentiality: Private investigators and security professionals often handle sensitive information. The PSISA mandates that licensed individuals must respect privacy laws, maintain confidentiality, and handle personal information securely and responsibly.

4. Record Keeping: Licensed professionals are required to maintain accurate records of their activities, including incident reports, surveillance logs, and any other relevant documentation. The PSISB may inspect these records to ensure compliance.

Impact on the Private Security Industry

The PSISA has had a significant impact on the private security industry in Ontario. By establishing licensing and training requirements, the legislation has raised the industry’s overall professionalism and standards. It has helped weed out unqualified and unethical individuals, ensuring that only competent and trustworthy professionals are licensed to provide security and investigative services.

The PSISA has also increased public confidence in the private security industry. By setting clear guidelines and regulations, the legislation has provided individuals and businesses with assurance that licensed professionals are held accountable for their actions. This has led to increased demand for licensed security services as clients prioritize safety and professionalism.

Case Study: The Impact of PSISA on Security Guard Services

To illustrate the impact of the PSISA, let’s consider a case study of a security guard company in Ontario. Prior to the enactment of the PSISA, the company faced challenges in maintaining consistent quality and professionalism among its security guards. There were instances of untrained and unlicensed individuals providing security services, leading to concerns about liability and reputation.

However, after the implementation of the PSISA, the company had to ensure that all its security guards were licensed and properly trained. This resulted in a more competent and professional workforce, leading to improved client satisfaction and increased business opportunities. The company’s reputation also improved as clients recognized the importance of hiring licensed security professionals who adhere to industry standards.

Statistics on PSISA Compliance

To further emphasize the impact of the PSISA, let’s consider some statistics on compliance within the private security industry in Ontario:

  • 1. According to the PSISB, as of 2020, there were over 100,000 licensed individuals and businesses operating in the private security and investigative services sector in Ontario.
  • 2. The PSISB conducts regular inspections and audits to ensure compliance with the PSISA. In 2019, they conducted over 1,500 inspections, resulting in several enforcement actions against non-compliant individuals and businesses.
  • 3. The PSISB also receives and investigates complaints from the public regarding licensed professionals. In 2020, they received over 500 complaints, highlighting the importance of regulatory oversight in maintaining industry standards.


The Private Security and Investigative Services Act (PSISA) plays a crucial role in regulating the private security industry in Ontario, Canada. By establishing licensing and training requirements, as well as ethical standards, the PSISA ensures the safety and security of individuals and businesses. The legislation has raised the overall professionalism of the industry, increased public confidence, and improved the quality of security and investigative services. Through its enforcement mechanisms and regulatory oversight, the PSISA continues to play a vital role in maintaining industry standards and protecting the interests of both clients and licensed professionals.