8 ways to improve your bar’s security

Licensed venues are often scrutinised for their security (or, in some cases, the lack of it). The night-time industry is often perceived as “unsafe” for a number of reasons – the physical darkness of night-time, the potential intoxication of customers and the lack of additional presence on the streets (such as other shoppers, workers etc).

The Crime Survey for England and Wales found that 54% of violent incidents happened in the evening or at night – a much lower percentage compared to a decade ago. This demonstrates that, actually, there is only a marginal difference between incidents occurring at night versus during the day. That said, there is still significant pressure on licensed venue owners to improve their bar’s security to ensure the safety of both their guests and members of the public.

We’ve frequently discussed the licensing objectives found in the Licensing Act 2003:

  • Prevention of crime and disorder.
  • Public safety.
  • Prevention of public nuisance.
  • Protection of children from harm.

In order to comply with the Licensing Act 2003 objectives, licensed venues must put adequate security measures in place. Here are just eight ways you can improve your bar’s security:

Work with licensed security professionals

Many licensed venues rely on door staff to ensure the safety of guests both entering and leaving the club. They are responsible for confiscating contraband items and drugs. Door staff check ID, to ensure only those of a legal age enter the premises. They are also responsible for assisting in emergencies, such as if there’s a fight or someone falls ill (both inside and outside of your venue).

We’re sure you can agree that this is a lot of responsibility for a member of staff – and therefore it’s important to work with trained professionals. This ensures your security is of a high standard and handled correctly. 

Work with security companies who are approved by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). You should also do your due diligence and make sure that security staff on your premises have a Door Supervision license.

Install CCTV

CCTV can act as a strong deterrent against violence, theft or fraud. It helps to make sure your venue doesn’t become a target for both organised and opportunist crime.

Make sure your cameras are placed to monitor key areas of your venue, such as entrances, exits and stairwells. Should your venue face a spurious claim (such as someone claiming they slipped on a spillage), you will be able to provide indisputable evidence that will help defend you.

Make sure you are fully clued up on the laws and regulations regarding CCTV before installing a system.

Train your staff

You shouldn’t rely solely on door security. Every member of staff at your venue has a responsibility to keep your guests safe. Your bar staff should be trained to challenge ID, never serve evidently intoxicated guests and should feel confident asking disruptive or abusive customers to leave the premises.

Keep training records to make sure you can prove what training was provided to your staff and when. You should also consider keeping refusal records, and make note of when various checks were completed (such as spillages, fire alarm tests etc). If an accident or incident occurs, you’ll be able to prove your staff carried out adequate due diligence. Software such as isitchecked provides notifications to make sure you’re compliant. This takes the guesswork and human error out of adequate security and safety checks – ultimately helping your staff to help you. NDML customers are able to access isitchecked at a discounted price – get in touch with the team to find out more.

Consider cyber security

Security isn’t just about what goes on within your four walls – have you considered external cyber security threats? Your venue could be exposed to potential cyber attacks, which may compromise your customer’s data – as well as your venue’s. There are some basic security measures you need to put in place but, when in doubt, ask for external experts to help you.

Make sure every member of staff has adequate cyber security training. They should never “just click” a link, share personal information or download any files unless they trust the source or website. From a management perspective, you must be prepared for any ‘what ifs’. Consider cyber security insurance, which will assist your venue financially if you are affected by a cyber attack.

Recognise potential attacks

Every member of staff should be trained to look out for suspicious behaviour. They should also know what to do in the event of a terror attack. Your venue could also be at risk of other attacks, such as an acid attack, that may not have a political or religious motive.

Often it’s just a gut instinct, but staff should be aware of people avoiding engagement or conversation, wearing unusual or unsuitable clothing, staring too much or obviously seeking out security systems such as CCTV cameras. Ask your door security to check bags thoroughly, and keep an eye out for any unattended bags or packages. Many clubs and venues ensure staff are wearing visible lanyards, and guests have hand stamps or similar – this helps to identify anyone who hasn’t been admitted to your venue by security staff.

Keep to your maximum capacity

Your maximum occupancy capacity may be stated in your premises license. In some cases, a maximum capacity will relate to the public safety or prevention of crime and disorder licensing objectives. This ensures your guests are not put at unnecessary risk due to overcrowding.

In many cases maximum capacity limits are imposed for fire safety reasons, and decided upon by your local authority.

These figures are not plucked out of thin air and you should never overcrowd your venue. It’s obvious that too many people in a small space increases the risk of something going wrong. Make sure your door staff know how many people to admit to your venue, and don’t allow those numbers to increase.

Don’t be complacent – your employees could be a threat to your security, too

We’ve spoken a lot in this article about training your staff to mitigate risks, complete adequate checks and assist in protecting your venue’s security. But what happens if a member of staff is untrustworthy?

Employee theft in the UK costs businesses over £190 million each and every year. You can prevent this by making sure you have clear and solid procedures in place for banking your takings or stock checking. These checks should be done in pairs, and recorded thoroughly. Then, if an incident does occur, you’re able to investigate when and how it happened.

Many employee theft happens because a staff member feels disengaged or disgruntlement towards your organisation. Invest in staff wellbeing programmes and encourage your employees to talk openly and honestly with management. This will nurture a sense of community and commitment, which will in turn lower the chances of your employees acting dishonestly.

Improve your lighting

We’re not suggesting adding garish lighting throughout your venue, but well-placed lighting in key areas could work wonders to improve your security. Make sure your till areas, staircases, entrances, exists and corridors are all well-lit. This helps to prevent slips and trips as well as preventing any potential unwanted activities. If you know certain spaces within your venue are becoming problem areas, add in subtle lighting. This not only acts as a deterrent, but ensures your staff can see any accidents / incidents.

So what is the benefit to your licensed venue? These security measures will not only help to prevent potential incidents at your bar or club, they’ll also help you to defend against potential claims or licensing issues. You should be able to prove you have put adequate safety and security measures in place to mitigate against risks.

If you would like any further risk management advice, or information about our free Claims Defensibility Training, do get in touch with the team.

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