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The economics of the private security sector in the UK

This PhD project seeks to understand the determinants and consequences of the increase of the private protection sector in the UK over the last years.  

Private protection is a flourishing business in the UK and around the world. According to the newspaper The Guardian (2017), in 2017 the global market for private security services was worth an estimated $180bn (around £140bn). In the UK, the private security sector is growing at an even faster rate than in other countries. Many reasons have been proposed to explain the increase of private security in the UK, such as the cuts in the police force budgets and the increased socio-economic inequality (the Guardian, 2020). 

Despite the relevance of this phenomenon, the statistical evidence that would help to precisely characterize and measure it are largely missing. The lack of reliable local statistics has prevented academics and non-academics from answering many policy-related research questions. For example, at the moment it is not possible to evaluate whether areas that invest heavily on private protection are effective in deterring crime and whether there are spillover effects into less protected areas. Also, it is not possible to study the interaction between public and private forces: are these complementary or substitutes? The PhD student is expected to fill the data gap and collect statistics on the British private protection industry at the local level. Most importantly, the PhD student is expected to conduct a rigorous empirical analysis to answer the above questions and link private protection with various socio-economic dimensions. This task consists in using rigorous empirical techniques and mapping software.  

The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree. The ideal candidate has a good knowledge of microeconomics techniques and microeconomics theory. Moreover, she/he is interested in analyzing data to investigate real-world problems.  

About the Supervisor 

I am a lecturer in the department of economics and finance at Brunel University London. My work is mainly based on using quantitative data to analyze questions which are relevant for policymaking. Over the years, I have covered topics related to crime, migration, inequality and indigenous conflict. For example, I have studied the relationship between economic shocks and crime rate- at the aggregate and individual levels. In another work, I have analyzed the role of migration in determining socio-economics outcomes, such as crime. A recently started project seeks to understand the relationship between unemployment benefits on criminal decisions, using individual data. My website is

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)