Ministry of the
Solicitor General

PSIS - Security Guard Study Guide Use of Force Theory

Private Security and Investigative Services

Basic Testing

Security Guard Test Preparation Guide

Section 11 - Use Of Force Theory

Security guards may find themselves in a situation where they need to use force. An understanding of use of force theory, the components of the use of force model and how to maintain composure during potentially stressful situations is required.

Where a security guard is required or authorized by law to do anything in the administration or enforcement of the law, section 25 of the Criminal Code (Canada) is applicable. In these circumstances, section 25 allows a security guard (like all members of the public) to use as much force as is necessary as long as they act on reasonable grounds. However, section 26 states that individuals who use force are also criminally responsible for any excess of force in these circumstances.

It is important that security guards have an understanding of use of force theory in order to avoid using excessive force. Security guards should also be familiar with the concepts of excited delirium syndrome and positional asphyxia; these may occur when a person is being physically restrained, and may lead to sudden or unexpected death.

Typically, a person suffering from excited delirium will display signs of severe mental disturbance, and may act violently and aggressively. If a person appears to be delirious, the security guard should avoid agitating or exciting them. Excited delirium can be caused by a variety of factors (or a combination of them), such as drug use, mental illness, brain injuries or tumors, heart disease, high blood pressure, high or low blood sugar, respiratory problems, or fever.

Positional asphyxia could happen to any person being physically restrained, but the risk of it is much higher for individuals suffering from excited delirium. When being restrained, a person should not be placed in a position that may prevent them from breathing properly – they should not be held face down, and there should be no pressure on their chest.

The National Use of Force Model (see below) is a situational model which may help security guards understand the appropriate level of force to use in a given situation. Based on the situation and the behaviour of the subject (black and white/inner circles), the security guard should assess the situation and determine what type of response is appropriate (coloured/outer circles). For example, a security guard would not use hard physical force against a subject who is being cooperative.


National Use of Force Model, from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Website

Criminal Code

Saskatchewan Justice – Corrections, Public Safety and Policing: Private Investigator and Security Guard Training Manual (2012)

  • Chapter 4 – The Security Guard and the Legal System
tional Use of Force FrameworkThe framework is depicted visually as several concentric circles, which show the appropriate levels of use of force in relation to the situation and to the behaviour of the subject.The subject behaviour circle includes the following possibilities, listed clockwise: cooperative, passive resistant, active resistant, assaultive, and grievous bodily harm or death.The security guard response circle includes the presence of the security guard, communication, soft physical control, hard physical control (which could involve the use of intermediate weapons), and finally lethal force.