Brazilians Spend Close to 18 Billion Dollars on Private Security

By Dialogo
April 18, 2013

With the perceived ineffectiveness of the public security and an increased feeling of uncertainty, Brazilian citizens have turned to the private security sector, which is a field that is expanding exponentially in Brazil. Between 2000 and 2009, businesses in this industry grew by 70%, making it a highly lucrative activity. In 2009, they spent a total of 35.85 billion reais (approx. 17.9 billion dollars), equivalent to 0.94% of the Gross Domestic Income, on private security, according to a poll by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA).

According to the data, this branch of services employed 721,603 people in 2012, compared to 303,038 in 2000. Among these employees, approximately 500,000 are guards and watchmen, a number greater than the total count of all state police officers, not including the number of personnel that work informally. Companies that include services like armored vehicles, residential alarm systems monitoring, security guards, personnel and armed escorts currently have the highest revenue growth recorded. Last year they reached 4.6 billion reais (approx. 2.3 billion dollars), compared to the prior year’s increase of 11%. The business of self defense is another field that has a rising demand, especially in the large urban centers, such as the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

On the other hand, government spending for public security showed a sharp decline. From the 3.1 billion reais (approx. 1.55 billion dollars) forecast in the federal government’s 2012 budget, only 23.8% of this total was used. Experts indicate that the situation is the result of the increased supervisory control and release of public funds, and also the lack of consistent projects to justify the release of these resources.

This scenario of almost widespread insecurity derives from several factors ranging from the systematic activities sponsored by criminal organizations such as the Primeiro Comando da Capital (First Capital Command), the Comando Vermelho (Red Command), and the Primeiro Grupo Catarinense (First Santa Catarina Group). The homicide rate of 27.1 for each 100,000 residents is considered epidemic by the UN, and includes crimes such as armed robbery, robbery, and theft, which drove some segments of the Brazilian society to doubt the effectiveness of the government policies for the sector.

*André Luís Woloszyn, Strategic Intelligence Analyst