7.2.3 Individual Security

People might seek individual security if they have reason to believe that they will not be adequately protected by a country’s governance.

No police force can guarantee total security for every individual, so many take some measures to protect themselves if they can afford to do so.  They can do so individually, or they can join with their neighbours.  In absence of police, vigilantes take to the streets in Baghdad for example, according to The New Humanitarian:

“With an increase in sectarian violence in Baghdad and a lack of effective policing, ordinary citizens have been forced to find their own ways of protecting their loved ones.”

The actions taken by such groups are unaccountable, so it is preferable to use the legal system to protect people (5.2), but in some circumstances individuals have little choice.  The following sub-sections examine three other forms of self-protection:

●  They can take precautions, such as crime prevention measures (

●  They can buy guns individually ( This is highly contentious, because there are more gun deaths in societies which have a high level of gun ownership.

●  They can appoint organisations to protect them, ranging from security guards to armed militias (

Some of these ways of providing individual security affect the rest of society.  Weapons in private hands can inflict a death penalty without the safeguard of a court of law – as in the contentious case of the killing of Trayvon Martin in February 2012.  A CNN article, Trayvon Martin Shooting Fast Facts, described how a private security guard, George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder after he had killed an unarmed boy in disputed circumstances.



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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/723a.htm.