You may hit the doorman

What powers do private security services have?

They are now a natural part of the streetscape: employees of private security companies guard subway stations, department stores or buildings and factory premises. They ensure that money gets safely from one place to another, accompany prominent actors and federal politicians as bodyguards or patrol events as security.

But this normality cannot hide the fact that private guard and security services are socially controversial. At least some people fear that the tasks of private security services collide with the sovereignty of the state and that these services could assume powers that are reserved for public bodies such as the police or the public order offices.

Municipalities employ private guard and security services

The criticism of the practice of some municipalities in engaging private security companies and using them at public events such as street festivals, where they also issue dismissals, arises from such fears. The municipalities often justify this practice legally by means of the so-called lending, but it is controversial at least among legal experts.

What are private guards and security services allowed to do?

In contrast to municipal practice, the rules that security services must follow when working for private clients are clear. First of all, the employees of these services are generally not allowed to carry any weapons with them. They also have to wear clothing that is clearly different from the uniforms and uniforms of police officers and employees of the public order offices.

This already shows that private security companies are not equated with state bodies and therefore have far fewer rights than the public order offices or the police. Unlike these, private security companies are assigned to civil law. They mostly work for private individuals or for companies organized under private law such as Deutsche Bahn, which they book for their own purposes.

For their client, the security companies enforce their house rules and the house rules based on them against third parties. Private security services have the extensive powers of their client.

For example, if the house rules for a train station stipulate that you are not allowed to drink alcohol there, it is permissible for the security services to check the people sitting there. "Drunk people are allowed to expel them from the train station," explains lawyer Siegfried Bratke from the German Lawyers' Association (DAV). "Because whoever does not adhere to the house rules violates the rights of those who have house rights." That is why private security services can, for example, issue stadium bans or department store detectives bans shoplifters.

Domiciliary rights create special rights

The domiciliary rights of the landlord create special rights. The owner of the domiciliary right or the security service representing him can, for example, issue a house ban and enforce it by invoking self-defense, which regulates Section 32 of the Criminal Code (StGB). Security services can also rely on Section 859 ff of the German Civil Code, self-help. They can report someone who violates house rules for trespassing in accordance with Section 123 of the Criminal Code.

What is the "everyone's right"?

In addition to these paragraphs from the penal code, private security services, as well as every other citizen living in Germany, have the so-called Jedermannsrecht. This right is defined in Section 127 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and allows anyone, under certain conditions, to detain a perpetrator at the crime scene until he or she identifies himself or the police arrive.

You could invoke this right, for example, if you watch someone destroy things or hit someone. "In order to be able to detain someone, there must always be an urgent suspicion," emphasizes lawyer Siegfried Bratke. This applies to employees in the security industry as well as to citizens in general.

Are security guards allowed to check personal details?

In the event of an urgent suspicion, private security services may record the personal details of a suspect. However, you cannot force the suspect to show them his ID. Because he doesn't have to. In this case, however, he must expect the security service to hold him until the police arrive at the scene. A suspect has to identify himself to the police.

But only if there is an urgent suspicion. "A general identity check is not allowed to be carried out by the police," says Siegfried Bratke. "An identity check always requires an occasion."

This is especially true for private security services. Regardless of suspicion, they may only have their IDs shown within the domicile of the landlord. At an event, for example, you can check whether a ticket and the personal details match. In this case of domiciliary rights, you have to show your ID or accept that you will not be allowed into the event.

Are bouncers allowed to turn away visitors?

In the example mentioned, it is legitimate for private security guards to prevent people from entering an event. However, it should be less justified if, for example, bouncers do not want to let people into a club or disco - at least bouncers are not allowed to turn someone away because of their origin. A practice that still happens in everyday life and has landed in courts many times.

Since this practice cannot be objectively justified, it could violate the colloquially known Anti-Discrimination Act (AGG) and therefore be prohibited. However, you have to prove that you have been discriminated against.

"If the person concerned can prove that he has been rejected because of his origin, for example through testimony, he could demand compensation for pain and suffering under the AGG and demand an omission," explains lawyer Siegfried Bratke. “The amount of compensation for pain and suffering depends on the individual case. So far, courts have awarded those affected different amounts, ranging from 300 to 900 euros. "