Vancouver - Pivot Legal Society will be holding a press conference this morning to announce the release of "Know Your Rights" cards for people interacting with private security guards. The publication of the cards comes after years of conflict between private security guards and marginalized people in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The cards will help residents better understand their rights and what they can do when their rights have been violated
The release of the cards comes at a time when the current contract for private security services in Strathcona is up for renewal. Many residents have expressed dissatisfaction with the way the current company, CSC Security, has handled their patrols.
"It is important to remember that private security guards patrolling public property have no more rights than you or I do, and these cards aim to dispel some of the myths about the power security guards have" said Douglas King, staff lawyer with Pivot Legal Society. "Our hope is that the business improvement associations will eventually realize that private security patrols on public property are a recipe for disaster."
Over the last two years, the community has raised multiple concerns about CSC Security, many of which centre around the treatment of sex workers by private security guards. While the VPD has been proactive in drafting a policy designed to protect the safety of sex workers, private security firms have been accused of picking up where the police left off.
Jennifer Allan, who supports sex workers through her peer support group "Jen's Kitchen", commented:
"During the ten years I have been doing outreach with sex workers in the DTES one of the main battles I have seen women face is against abuse from private security guards. Security guards harass and abuse sex workers instead of helping them. They film and take pictures of women without permission and push them off public streets into secluded areas. Private security treat sex workers even worse than police do."
The rights cards, which will be made available throughout the province, provide the contact information for the Ministry of Justice, where people who believe they have had their rights violated by private security can make a complaint. Recently, the Ministry's investigators intervened and severed the license of a security guard found guilty of excessive force at Vancouver's Pacific Centre Mall.
Pivot hopes the rights cards will encourage people to file more complaints and further engage the provincial regulator in addressing misconduct by private security guards. The Press Conference will be later this morning in the DTES. Pivot will be joined by numerous community groups whose members have experienced harassment or violence at the hands of private security. They will speak about their experiences, and talk about alternatives to private security companies, including community based patrols which are currently operated by the non-profit group Mission Possible.
View the cards here: http://bit.ly/14wcXXo