This article investigates civil rights violations by regular, semi-regular and irregular private security officers working in the city of São Paulo. Have these agents violated individual rights and liberties in performing their duties? What are the main violations and where do they occur more often? Are these violations comparable with those perpetrated in the course of public policing activities? This paper seeks to answer these questions by drawing on an exploratory analysis of crimes committed by private security officers in the city of São Paulo between January 2009 and September 2010. The findings show that private security officers often violate the physical integrity, freedom and honour of citizens, more saliently in retail/leisure facilities and public transportation terminals. Whereas regular private security officers commit more violations in mass transit terminals, semi-regular and irregular security officers commit more excesses in night clubs, bars, restaurants and retail outlets. The findings also suggest two different patterns of abusive conduct in comparing private policing activities and public policing activities. While police officers seem to use and abuse more often the legal powers granting them the right to use lethal force for maintaining public order, private security officers more often use and abuse non-lethal physical and bodily tools in the name of order maintenance inside privately policed spaces.
São Paulo city; private security officers; policing; crimes; civil rights