Territorial contribution to the security continuum – synthesis


While in 2017 the Cour des Comptes made a virulent criticism of private security companies, Alice Thourot and Jean Michel Fauvergue, then deputies, published a report on global security seven months later. This report allowed for a constructive dialogue between public and institutional stakeholders and the private security industry. The two deputies have provided major avenues for improving the development and perception of these security and defense services companies. It is in this line that acollective work entitled Contribution territoriale au continuum de sécurité (Territorial contribution to the security continuum) was written, at the initiative of David Hornus. This work highlights the growing role of these companies in the security continuum with the public force. This contribution was collectively produced by private, public, institutional and academic security actors, in the perspective of the publication of the white paper on internal security announced in 2019.

“Alone, the State cannot do everything, but without the State, the territories can do nothing”, these words of Jean Baptiste Jusot, coordinator of the “territorial contribution”, perfectly summarize the principle of the continuum between private and public security. The State has the duty of security of its citizens, which it exercises through its regalian functions, but, in accordance with article 72 of the Constitution on decentralization, the territorial authorities have powers giving them authority in particular in matters of security.

This principle of delegation in matters of security is found at the beginning of the book in the interventions of the institutions. The latter, and more particularly the local authorities, play a primordial role in matters of security.  Etienne Blanc, first vice-presidentof the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regional council, assures us, and rightly so, that the region places security at the center of its preoccupations. As a result of decentralization, the State has delegated certain prerogatives in the area of security to the region. The local authorities intervene by ensuring, for example, the security of high schools, TER and public places. Since 2016, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region has spent 169 million euros on security for transport and public places. Since the wave of attacks that followed those of 2015, security has thus become a key political issue for the latter. Thus, 10M euros have been invested by the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region to strengthen the safety of public spaces in 306 municipalities and 3,700 additional surveillance cameras have been installed. The Region, as a public institution, is therefore a major player in the security continuum. The book underlines the importance of the role of local authorities in the implementation of global security in the territories. The criminal liability of mayors, which can be incurred in particular in matters of public security, proves that municipalities are just as concerned as the State with security.

Beyond the need to delegate the State’s security mission to the communities, the central point of the book is the continuum of private and public security. The 23 personalities who contributed to the writing of the book insist on the necessity to grant a greater role to private security companies by multiplying the cooperation between private and public. Claude Fourcaux, deputy general secretary of the police officers’ union, who worked for the DST, formerly the DGSI, testifies to the indispensable nature of cooperation between public and private security. According to him, it is an asset that the State cannot do without, this cooperation allows a reinforcement of the global security. At the time when he worked for the DST, the Ministry of the Interior asked for the intervention of security and defense services companies in particular in the field of video protection, revealing the significant place of private security. Claude Fourcaux nevertheless calls for vigilance on the part of the State, in fact, although a delegation towards private security is necessary and efficient, the State must keep a control on the course of operations (carrying of weapons, transfer of competences). The challenge of a continuum between the public and the private sector is based on the reliability of private companies and on the trust that the clients place in them.


The growing issue of the reliability and credibility of private security companies is promoted by the existence of organizations and associations like ICoCa. The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Companies association, headed by Jamie Williamson, allows member companies to guarantee compliance with the legal and normative framework, international standards (ISO 18 788) and the international standards of the International Organization for Standardization. Thus, ICoCa requires member companies to have a governance that allows for the provision of security services that are responsible with respect to human rights. The other challenge for private security companies is to improve market perception. Their image is often tarnished by practices that have been banned. Jamie Williamson notes that these private companies intervene and support public action in the field of security. The cooperation between private and public security is thus a stake for the global security of the territory. Jean-Luc Logel, president of EDEN (the first cluster of French SMEs in defense, security and safety) is also a fervent defender of this cooperation, considering that it is a strength for the State. Indeed, for the latter to rely on the skills of private security companies is to guarantee its sovereignty in the world of homeland security. However, the president of EDEN deplores an obstacle to these cooperations: the process is decided at the national level where the SMEs are little represented although they are essential. It is the eternal stake of the private security: to be heard at the national level.


For Xavier Pierrot, deputy general manager of Groupama Stadium and the Arena project, “Private/public operational cooperation for security is a reality. In charge of the stadium’s security, he is a direct witness to the action of private security in the framework of a public service mission. Since the attacks at the Stade de France in 2015, the perception of risk has changed. His position as security director has allowed him to notice an evolution in favor of private/public cooperation. In this, he can be a service provider for the State (for major events/ vaccinodrome), but also the State can be his “service provider” within the stadium. Within the framework of private/public partnerships, Xavier Pierrot calls on the police for the security of Olympique Lyonnais matches. This type of partnership illustrates the importance of the continuum for optimal security.

Faced with the deployment of French armed forces in numerous conflict zones, the increase in delinquency and the deterioration of the social climate, the intervention of private security compagnies is becoming more than necessary to complement the State’s security action. David Hornus, director of Corpguard and member of the ICoCa steering committee, testifies in the book about the existence and the rise of the private/public continuum. Operations such as private investigations, which provide evidence admissible in court, or the fight against corruption, which, in accordance with the “sapin2” law, is not the responsibility of the State, reinforce the public/private complementarity. This continuum can only work if these standards and governance are reinforced. This continuum can only work if these standards and governance are strengthened. This is what David Hornus develops by giving some avenues for improvement: raising the level of recruitment, reinforcing the supervision of private agents and finally integrating young graduates and former military personnel and promoting the place of women. It is with these reforms that the private security industry will be able to reach the level of excellence expected of it.


In order to create a climate of confidence in private security, the training of agents and managers is essential. Laurent Moscatello, divisional commissioner of the National Police College insists on this point: the executives of private security companies must be seen, not only as former police or military officers, but above all as security experts. It is for this reason that higher education is decisive for the future of private/public security. With this in mind, he has created a partnership between the Lyon III faculty and the ENSP to provide the best possible training for effective global security. In addition, David Cumin, lecturer at Lyon III, reminds us that the success of cooperation between private/public security is based on a triple condition: the quality of training of agents, regulation by the State and the exclusion of sovereignty functions.


The work on the security continuum is an objective statement of the non-negligible and necessary contribution of both private security companies and local authorities. The amalgam between guarding (surveillance), security (prevention of risks and accidents) and safety (action to prevent and manage voluntary threats) does not allow private security companies to reach the level of maturity of their international counterparts. In the Anglo-Saxon countries, private security companies are clearly identified as partners for the benefit of companies, states and institutions.

To advance in this expansion of private security, it is up to the State to act by imposing to the stakeholders to no longer buy from the lowest bidder, but to buy at the right price for responsible security services. Security is too serious an issue to refuse the contribution of private companies and regional public actors. As Gérard Collomb says, “Security is the first condition of freedom”, and this freedom must have a price, the price of security.


Hermine de La Rochebrochard – Junior Analyst