A security guard, security officer, or protective agent is a private person who is hired to protect the employing partyâ€™s assets (property, people, equipment, money, etc.) from a variety of hazards (such as waste, damaged property, unsafe worker behaviour, criminal activity such as theft, etc.) by using preventative measures. They do this by maintaining a high-visibility presence to deter illegal and inappropriate actions, observing (either directly, through patrols, or by watching alarm systems or video cameras) for signs of crime, fire or disorder; then taking action to minimize damage (example: warning and escorting trespassers off property) and reporting any incidents to their client and emergency services, such as police and ambulance, as appropriate. Security officers are generally uniformed to represent their lawful authority to protect private property. Security guards are generally governed by legal regulations, which set out the requirements for eligibility (e.g., a criminal record check) and the permitted authorities of a security guard in a given jurisdiction. The authorities permitted to security guards vary by country and subnational jurisdiction. Security officers are hired by a range of organizations, including businesses, government departments and agencies and not-for-profit organizations (e.g., churches and charitable organizations). Until the 1980s, the term watchman was more commonly applied to this function, a usage dating back to at least the Middle Ages in Europe where there was no form of law enforcement (other than it being a private matter). This term was carried over to North America where it was interchangeable with night-watchman until both terms were replaced with the modern security-based titles. Security officers are sometimes regarded as fulfilling a private policing function.