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History Of Security Guarding

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b2ap3_thumbnail_history_logo.jpgProtection of one’s self, one’s property and one’s possessions has been a human instinct as old as time itself. Once the differentiation was made between what’s mine and what’s yours, there became a need for security and this need has only grown and evolved ever since. Indeed, archaeologists and historians have discovered cave drawings and other evidence which clearly show that protection of life and property and enforcement of the social code were of great concern to early mankind and the case still remains very much the same today.



The Medjai

b2ap3_thumbnail_1.gifThe real beginnings of the use of hired guards and security personnel actually stretch as far back as ancient Egypt. During the 13th century BC, Pharaoh Ramses II recruited and relied on a foreign legion of guards known as the Medjai, a generic term for scout or guard. The Medjai were responsible for bolstering Ramses II’s own military and security forces. He also hired Libyan, Syrian, Canaanites and Sherdens from Sardinia as bodyguards and private soldiers to protect him and his family. Even today, evidence of the use of these private bodyguards can be found on wall paintings and ancient buildings in Egypt. 


Gladiators and Janitors



The Roman Empire is said to also have been quite innovative in its use of hired security personnel and is thought to have laid the foundations for practices which still exist to this day. Wealthy Roman families would often hire gladiators to protect their families and their property. These gladiators would more than likely be soldiers who had hired themselves out in between military campaigns. Wealthy families may also have had organised criminal bands working for them to deter would-be criminals.


Slaves were another form of protection for their masters and were a much more economically-viable option. A slave who would guard the entrance to a building was known as a janitor, named after the two-faced Roman god, Janus.


Vigiles and the Praetorian Guard


In about 600 B.C. to 500 B.C. the ancient Greeks developed a system of protection that was primarily responsible for safeguarding the monarchy as well as highways leading into the cities. This method of protection was based on a system of watchmen, the existence of which has also been discovered in the Ottoman and Egyptian empires.

 However, perhaps the most significant use of watchmen was during the height of the Roman Empire, which transformed the role of a watchman into a profession through the creation of two organisations: Vigilesand the Praetorian Guardb2ap3_thumbnail_3.jpg

The Praetorian Guard consisted of an elite bodyguard corps of soldiers who were made to take an oath of loyalty to the emperor. They were responsible for keeping crime down and any potential turmoil at bay. As an organised body, the Guard is historically acknowledged to have been the world’s first unofficial police force.

 The other group, the vigiles, literally “the watch”, were soldiers assigned to guard the city of Rome and its infrastructure. They were established by Augustus Caesar and essentially controlled the life of the city. The vigiles are often credited as having been the origin of both private security personnel and public law enforcement in Roman history. Although the vigiles performed a mixture of these roles, their principal duty was as a semi-organised fire brigade. A clear connection can be made from the Latin word vigile and the English words vigil and vigilant. Today the role of a security guard is to primarily watch for dangers or perils in the area in which they are operating, not so much different to the role of the vigiles in ancient Rome.


The Varangian Guard

 Another privately paid security force was the Varangian Guard which was established during the Byzantine era in 400 A.D. These were again foreigners who were contracted, largely to protect the emperor and the Byzantine Empire from both internal and external threats, such as rebellions of the masses. These guards often came from war-prone nations such as the northern Viking region, Eastern Europe and eastern Asia.

The need and desire for private security continued to grow through the Middle Ages, not only in Western Europe but in Asia as well. In China and Japan the elite classes would use private security personnel to defend themselves against the growing Mongol hordes, whilst Italian and Chinese warlords would also use private security personnel to guard their bases and act as fighters in military campaigns.



The practice of using watchmen to protect and guard local towns and cities continued in England during the Middle Ages. Their place and considerable role in English history is signified by numerous writs and statutes; in 1233 an Ordinance was issued which called for the appointment of watchmen and perhaps more importantly, a statute was declared by King Edward I which sought to establish and formalise security on a more local level. The Statute of Winchester of 1285 applied to all English towns and villages and all English citizens:

 “Part Four and the King commandth that from henceforth all Watches be made as it hath been used in past times that was to wit from the day of Ascension unto the day of St. Michael in every city by six men at every gate in every borough by twelve men in every town by six or four according to the number of inhabitants of the town. They shall keep the Watch all night from sun setting unto sun rising. And if any stranger do pass them by them he shall be arrested until morning and if no suspicion be found he shall go quit.”

 The statute was revolutionary in its attempt at establishing three major practical security measures for each citizen, namely:

   -   Watch and Ward: which called for local town residents to act as watchmen as detailed in the excerpt above. Those chosen to do so had to patrol walled cities in the evening keeping an eye out for criminal or unruly behaviour. They were positioned at every gate of a walled town or city between sunset and sunrise. To prevent them from falling asleep, they would sit on a special chair, known as the watchman’s chair, which was an upholstered wooden chair with a forward slanting seat.

   -     Hue and Cry: this made it every citizen’s duty to assist the watchman, once they heard his cry, in apprehending criminals. This included the practice of citizen’s arrest, a concept that had first appeared during the time of King Alfred in 872 A.D. to 901 A.D.

   -      Assize of Arms: this required that every male citizen aged between 15 and 60 keep a weapon in his home so that they could protect themselves and their homes and also assist in a crisis if needed.


 Manned Guarding

 The use of watchmen developed and continued into the Industrial Age when industrial firms began to create their own unit of guards to counter possible strikes and/or violence. In an unprecedented move, tax revenues were used for the first time in 1737 to pay for the night patrol guards and in 1748, Henry Fielding, an English novelist and magistrate, called for the founding of a permanent, well-paid, professional security force. Some believe this to have been London’s first police force and Fielding has been attributed as one of the first men to have tried to go some lengths to introducing a system which deterred crime instead of controlled it.

 The need for hired private security personnel continued to increase during the period of the two world wars and extended across the Atlantic into America, where the reality of spying and sabotage taking place during the Cold War, necessitated protection in a time of great uncertainty. b2ap3_thumbnail_5.jpg

 This period also began to see the foundations of the formal organisation of the modern security force begin to develop. Standards were being set, associations for private security professionals, such as the SIA, were being created and the vetting of security guards became a requirement. The security industry began to use a new term, ‘manned guarding’, to describe the security guards that most people are familiar with today.

 The Cold War forced America and much of Western Europe to put into place professional-level security programmes and plans that used the latest developments in locks and alarms, fences, patrols and trained personnel. There was a real drive to increase the proficiency and training of private security personnel and more and more industries began to employ private security personnel through contract security groups. Furthermore, the compulsory use of security vetting procedures soon became accepted as normal trade practice throughout the world.


Enigma Security Solutions

In its work, Enigma Security Solutions takes inspiration from these various groups of security personnel as it believes that the core concepts remain the same today, as they did back then. The whole idea of protection is timeless; however methods and techniques have clearly evolved since the reign of Ramses II. Enigma epitomises the modern-day security business with its success based around the structured training of staff, effective management, the utilisation of the latest technological equipment, client interaction and a robust assurance process. Enigma also follows suit with the latest developments in security vetting and ensures that all its employees are subject to rigorous recruitment, screening and internal, contract-specific b2ap3_thumbnail_6.jpg training procedures to ensure it gets the highest quality of staff and in turn ensure a consistent quality of service.

 As well as changing methods, the use of technology has also seen a massive advance and Enigma is proud to be at the forefront in its use of the latest, innovative technology in the services it provides. Enigma operates its remote monitoring services from a state-of-the-art control room, fully manned by Enigma’s highly experienced managers, supervisors and operators, functioning 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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