Since 2001 safety and security issues have gained major importance all around the world, creating one of the fastest growing industry sectors. The situation in Turkey is no different. Research called the International Crime Victims Survey, conducted in Istanbul in 2005 by Bilgi University as part of a worldwide study, shows that 60 percent of the city’s residents do not feel secure. Although Turkey has been dealing with issues of terrorism and political violence for decades, the rapid increase in crime, private and commercial fraud, fires and other safety hazards have rendered security a prime concern for private citizens as well as for industry and commerce. Thus, demand for safety and security equipment and services has been stimulated, and the sector is experiencing remarkable growth.

The total market for safety and security equipment and services in Turkey was estimated to be around $2.8 billion in 2006 and is expected to climb to $3 billion in 2007. In 2007, physical security services, meaning private security guards, patrols, and security training services, are expected to capture $2.5 billion of the total market, electronic security methods $360 million and cash in transfer services (C.I.T., cash and valuables) $165 million.

As these figures indicate, the safety and security sector in Turkey by and large consists of physical security services, whereas in economically more developed countries, the safety and security sector is more weighted toward electronic security methods. This fact is due to the advantages of comparatively lower labor costs in Turkey and it can be expected that as the Turkish economy advances, a shift toward electronic security methods will take place.

Private Security Market Profile

The growth in the safety and security equipment and services sector in Turkey is related to the new investments made by financial institutions, airports, large industrial groups, multinational corporations, real estate companies, shopping centers, and retail chains.

Physical Security Services:

Until 1981, the Turkish National Police controlled all the security for public and private entities. In 1981, Law No. 2495 regarding the “Protection and Security of Certain Institutions and Organizations” went into effect enabling for the first time the private sector to provide security in national critical sites with the special permission of the Ministry of Interior. These critical sites included stadiums, concert halls, banks, industrial sites, shopping centers and various state organizations. In June 2004, a new law (numbered 5188) was passed, laying down muchneeded procedures regarding private security services. This new law established a framework for granting private security permits, for training, licensing, auditing and supervision of persons and companies providing security services.

Following the acceptance of Law No. 5188, the physical security companies in Turkey mushroomed from around 200 in mid-2004 to 738 as of mid-2006. The number of certified private security personnel in Turkey has reached 192,000 leaving behind the police force of 189,000 and making private security the second largest security force after the army.

Among the European countries, Turkey ranks second after Poland in the size of its private security guards. In the next 10 years the number of private security personnel is expected to increase by 50 percent to 300,000.

UPDATE of 2011: Private security services continues to grow at a rapidly in Turkey, as the number of Turkish private security officers has surpassed the number of soldiers in 134 countries. According to recent data, the number of private security officers has reached 169,000. This figure compares with military populations of 163,000 in Poland, 148,000 in the Ukraine, 127,000 in Algeria and 120,000 in Switzerland. Nearly 47,000 companies have received permission to employ security guards.
Turkey has more than 415,000 people licensed to work as private security officer. Since 2004, when the regulation on private security came into effect (case no:5188, some newly regulations at 2011), 1,300 companies have received licenses to operate as private security provider.
More than 700 institutions are training private security officers. Until today, 46,688 institutions have received permission to employ security guards. Since 2004, more than a million people entered exams to become guards. Nearly 687,000 of them got their certificates. Out of this latter figure, 415,487 individuals received private security IDs.

The majority of the physical security companies are locally owned and operated. Among the international companies working in this segment of the sector are Group4Securicor (G4S), Securitas-DAK, Kluh-Deniz Service Management, Euroserve Security, and ISS Turkey (Servicemaster). The trend toward privatization of former police duties is gaining strength; even the army is not exempt. In a pilot project started in 2006, private security guards are protecting 21 army recruitment offices around the country and if this is successful, all army recruitment offices will be guarded by private security firms.

The main end-users of physical security services are financial institutions, government agencies, ports and transportation terminals, educational institutions, residential and office buildings, housing complexes, hospitals, museums and tourism facilities, and sports and entertainment centers.

Electronic Security Services:

The electronic security products segment refers to all types of products for intruder and fire detection and alarm systems, closed circuit systems, IT security, and access control systems. Currently around 1,000 companies operate in this market, whose size was about $330 million in 2006. All factories, tourist facilities and shopping centers are required to install fire sensing and detection equipment, fire alarm systems and fire extinguishers. Turkish households have not yet acquired the habit of installing either smoke detectors, fire extinguishers or gas detectors; however, this is due to change as Turkey is working to become a full member of the EU and will have to rapidly adapt to EU standards. In general, the penetration of electronic security methods in the banking institutions, large and multinational corporations, premium offices, and smart buildings across Turkey has reached 60-70 percent.

Electronic security technology needs vary according to sector and company needs. For instance, in industrial sectors the primary objective might be protection of manufacturing areas/investments and workplace security, whereas in retail sectors the priority might be solutions for theft detection and prevention. Currently the most popular systems in Turkey are listed as follows:

  • CCTV
  • Electronic Surveillance Systems
  • Access Control Equipment and Systems
  • Biometric Systems
  • Fire Detection and Warning Systems
  • Sales Point POS/EM Data Software
  • RFID Product Safety Labeling
  • X-Ray Screening Equipment
  • Metal/Weapon Detectors

Industry experts predict that the electronic security products market will expand 300 percent in the next five years. Depending on the system, the share of imported products ranges between 70 to 90 percent. Far-eastern countries–China, Taiwan and Korea–supply lower cost, simpler systems and have captured about 20 percent of the total market in only three years. For advanced, high quality systems such as sophisticated computerized systems that integrate several IT solutions, U.S. or European companies’ products are preferred such as those manufactured by Honeywell, Sensormatic, and Gunnebo.

Cash In Transfer:

The cash in transfer (CIT) services segment covers the physical movement of cash and valuables, mostly on behalf of financial and retail organizations. The main end-users are banking and financial institutions, retailers (supermarkets, restaurants, gas stations), the jewellery sector, and the entertainment sector. This market segment is expected to grow by 27 percent in Turkey reaching $165 million in sales. Almost all the international companies working in the physical security sector also have CIT operations.

* This article is based of Perin Ilgaz’s report at 2009, and updated by ISP Private Security Company’s editorial team.

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