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THAILAND: Private Security Booms with Insecurity

Demand for private security services are expected to skyrocket in the wake of the mounting unrest in Thailand's three southernmost provinces and the recent bombings in Hat Yai.

by Charoen KittikanyaBangkok Post
April 18th, 2005

Demand for private security services are expected to skyrocket in the wake of the mounting unrest in the three southernmost provinces and the recent bombings in Hat Yai.

The private security services industry is expected to grow substantially this year by at least 30% compared with average growth of 15% over the last five years, according to the Kasikorn Research Center.

The overall value of the industry is projected to reach about 20 billion baht in 2005, a 30% rise from last year.

According to the research house, the increased demand for security services following the bombings at Hat Yai is expected to come particularly from commercial banks, financial institutions, hotels, embassies and factories.

Guts Group, Thailand's largest security company and the only one that claims to provide a full-coverage security service, for instance, has witnessed a sharp rise in demand for its services recently, particularly during last week's three-day Songkran Festival, among companies that are likely bomb targets such multinational firms and or those involved in the oil and petrochemical industry, a spokesman said.

With over 12,000 security professionals, Guts Group currently provides security services for more than 2,500 clients all over Thailand. It expects to sign up at least 3,000 new customers this year.

Apart from resident and office protection, Guts Group also offers VIP protection, a protection for valuables at events, exhibitions, trade fairs, security training and security equipment, the spokesman said.

Last year, its revenue climbed 15% to exceed one billion baht.

Kasikorn Research Center noted despite the rising demand, the security service business remained highly competitive due to the large number of operators.

Currently, there are as many as 3,000 operators, a majority of which are small providers with around 100 to 200 employees. Around 1,500 firms are medium-sized with 500 to 1,000 employees, and just 20 are large firms employing at least 1,000 security guards.

As a whole, the industry now has over 400,000 workers, and average monthly wages range from 7,000 to 8,000 baht, up from 4,000 to 5,000 baht five years ago.

Aside from concerns over the mounting violence in the South, the research house said rising burglary rates added to the growing prospects for the industry.

Only a few security service providers had achieved ISO 9002 certification. Some smaller firms even employ low-wage Burmese migrants.

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