News First Line of Defence

Door staff are often the first point of contact for customers when they approach a pub

Operators will be well aware of reports relating to the national decline of nightclubs, pubs, music venues and other entertainment establishments. In London, there are real fears that the decline of music venues will have major implications for the UK’s £3.8bn music industry. This has resulted in leading politicians voicing their support of the night time economy.  Boris Johnson, when he was London Mayor, ordered an audit of music venues in London.  The current Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has vowed to generally address London’s declining nightlife. 

Consequently, the need for operators of licensed premises to do everything, not only to attract new customers but to retain existing ones, has never been more important.

A customer's first contact with many licensed premises is often with a member of door staff. The door team are also a premises' first line of defence, and if customers do not feel safe or secure they will inevitably go elsewhere.

Good door supervisors, properly registered under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, provide an invaluable service to the night time economy by protecting and promoting a safe environment for customers, staff, local businesses and residents. 

So it is surprising that some operators fail to pay proper attention to the quality of their security team.

Many of us remember the days when “door men” had to be wide, muscular men, who on occasions had very limited patience and, although some were effective others were perhaps 'too effective'. Some indeed were also involved in illegal activities.

Change has not been immediate and many of you will be aware of the ongoing enquires relating to police officers and security-firm bosses being the subject of a major corruption investigation. This is centred on allegations that police took bribes to coerce clubs in central London to use door staff from certain companies.

At the other end, many of you will have seen the footage on the Publicans Morning Advertiser's website of the councillor trying to re-enter a premises in the north of England. Whatever view one takes of the councillor's behaviour the professionalism and patience of the door team is obvious, and the footage gives a useful insight into the sort of conduct that door teams have to deal with at the weekends.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA), the organisation responsible for regulating the private security industry in the UK, has created a more qualified and competent class of door staff. Door security is now a profession rather than a paid pastime.

Being a door man is no longer synonymous with being large and a little intimidating; door supervisors are now the initial representatives of the premises. Therefore, as an operator, whether you are employing a door team on a voluntary basis or as a result of a condition on a Premises Licence issued under the Licensing Act 2003, remember that they have many crucial front line duties.  They may be involved in collecting tickets from people, supervising customers as they leave, assessing potential customers as they approach the venue, refusing entry to the venue on age or drunkenness grounds, restraining and removing customers, dealing with emergencies such as fires or bomb threats, accurately recording details of incidents and engaging with the Police or Licensing Officers when deemed appropriate.

Your security are now professional “meeters and greeters”.  Many operators are now demanding excellence in their security staff, demanding good social and customer service skills and patience, even with the most difficult of customers.  Qualities such as decisiveness and quick thinking, and being an effective communicator with good observation and teamwork skills are key. 

The security profession is being pushed even further where knowledge of criminal and civil law is required, so door security personnel can understand the use of reasonable force, the issue of self-defence and regulations relating to, for example, searching an individual.  It is an expectation that they are qualified first aiders and are aware of many obligations under the Licensing Act 2003, equal opportunities and health and safety legislation. 

With the promise of a 24 hour tube system in London, increased tourism in the UK and increased entertainment nationally bringing billions of pounds in revenue, the quality of our security staff will go a long way to ensuring the future safety of our night-time economy.