As an unfortunate by-product of security concerns in France over the past couple of years (not to mention the robbery in Paris of celebrities Kim Kardashian and Kanye West), the personal security sector has received enormous attention. Along with greater vigilance and protection of public events, the economic climate has led the French government to step up privatisation of security services.

Security is understandably a significant element of the current political and proposals have been made for further expansion of state security, including making it easier to arm private security personnel. The end result is a fertile climate for responsible and considered expansion into the French private security sector.

First off, it’s important to note the difference between private security and other forms of security. Cyber-security for instance is a massive sector, but extremely different in application!

A private security firm distinctly deals in real world security, providing armed and unarmed guards for the protection, guarding and escorting of people and valuable assets.

Protecting people’s computers usually doesn’t require many qualifications, although there may be legislation around data privacy. The private security industry on the other hand is chock full of rules and requirements, all designed to ensure the safety of you and your clients.

Make sure you adhere to legal requirements

Private security companies in France have to deal with a number of laws relating to ownership, employment and practice. One that is fairly unique to France is the ‘Speciality principle’. This prevents private security firms from offering any services other than security, in the manner of some large contractors such as G4S. Other key regulatory requirements include:

  • Mandatory licensing
  • Owner and employees must have completed minimum training
  • Owner and recruits cannot have a criminal record, inc. commercial law breaches
  • Employees must not have been in the police force in the last 5 years
  • Stipulations around uniforms (can’t be similar to police) and ID badges
  • Extra training for deployment of weapons and animals
  • 140 hours of training for a basic unarmed recruit

The body governing private security in France is the National Council of Private Securities Activities (CNAPS). They act as both a point of reference for security firms and a regulatory body, carrying out regular inspections and issuing fines for non-compliance.

Write a comprehensive business plan

Writing a business plan is a crucial, formative step in starting any business. But more than helping to secure funding and convince people of your proposition, it will help to nail down your niche. After all, there are various areas within private security that you could focus on.

This is a simpler process in America for instance, where all of your guards will naturally require weapons training and licences. French private security requires that you think a bit more about the clients you will be chasing, and the kind of work they are likely to be doing. Will it be for high end clientele and high value assets, or ‘boots on the ground’ patrol and support work?

Your ‘audience’ will dictate your entire brand image and the way you market yourselves, so this step is crucial. It might be tempting to just take whatever contracts you can get, but that focus will help you carve a niche and stand out. Leave the expansion plans until later.

Formulate best practices for staff

Make sure that your hiring process is not just legally sound, but also rigorous and consistent. The training programmes for security personnel are government mandated, but this does not mean that everyone will end up with the same approach or even knowledge.

Make sure that everyone is on the same wavelength, and draft strategies and working practices that ensure maximal safety and success. Your staff may have security training, but have they been trained to avoid escalation, and do they all know when not to take unnecessary risks? Do they know how to write reports and document their actions in a helpful and useful manner?

Valuable and broad as security training is, it’s equally crucial not to place too much trust in a certificate to tell you that a person is suitable, or that everyone knows the same things. There are many things to consider before you throw them into new or unusual scenarios. Make sure you know the contents of the training that’s been given, lay down your own rules in line with the law and your own experiences, and provide refresher courses to keep employees in step.

Be realistic with your budget

Starting a private security company in France isn’t a cheap process. While starting wages are fairly low, there are a number of overheads and potentially unseen costs. You may find that you need to provide training in order to gain suitable recruits. You will also require a significant level of liability insurance in order to cover potential incidents of accidental damage, harm or theft.

Offices are an obvious cost, but consider whether you will need to offer any other physical services. Will you have your own training facility in-house for theory or practice, and people to staff it? Will you offer a gym for your employees to stay sharp? These might seem lavish, but they have immediate practical benefits that might help you stand out from the crowd.

Equipment is also a major cost to consider. You will need to design and buy uniforms, and invest in robust tamper-proof ID badges. If your guards are weapon trained, you will have to buy and licence these weapons. And if you intend to use dogs or horses, you will need to pay for upkeep, whether that means paying someone else or keeping them ‘on site’.

If you need more information on how to open a company or registering a new business in France or for issues relating to opening a bank account, accountancy in France or Immigration & Visas please download our free guide below and either contact us directly by calling 0033 (0)1 53 57 49 10 or emailing us from our contact page and we’ll be happy to discuss your requirements.

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