Nightclubs, bars and pubs often have door security to ensure the safety of customers. It’s now becoming increasingly common for hotels and restaurants to hire security, particularly for special events or local occasions that may encourage a large gathering of people.
We chat to Anton Vidal, Operations Manager at Security Management Services Ltd, about the importance of arranging adequate security at your licensed venue…
Challenges in the industry
The night-time industry faces arguably unjust preconceptions about safety and security. Studies do show a link between alcohol and violence. When coupled with a physically dark environment, people often do feel less safe at night. It’s understandable, but it doesn’t mean night-time venues are particularly unsafe. Most venues have security measures such as CCTV systems in place, but licensed venues should still recognise the need for professional security. This means licensed, thoroughly-briefed security staff on-site, not simply ‘security theatre’ designed to give an illusion of safety.
Anton says, “Security guards face a number of challenges, mainly to do with ID. It’s not a problem we can ignore – security guards have to ensure only customers of a legal drinking age can consume alcohol on the premises. Security professionals aren’t just door staff – we deal with drug use, alcohol abuse and rowdy behaviour.” Licensed venues must abide by strict licensing objectives, including ensuring the safety of the public. High levels of noise and potentially aggressive / violent behaviour could result in complaints and even license suspension. Security guards are invaluable as their job is to calm any volatile situations and discourage any suspicious or anti-social behaviour.
Protecting your staff
We’ve talked previously about wellbeing in the night-time industry and how important it is to treat your employees well. Night-time industry workers face many stresses, including potential abuse from customers and a feeling of compromised security. “Our job isn’t just making sure customers have a safe and secure night,” says Anton. “We’re here to protect staff too.” If a customer has had too much to drink or is treating a staff member unfairly, a security professional will step in to ensure the venue remains a safe space.
Choosing the right door security
Licensed venues should carefully consider how many security guards they need for an evening, particularly for specific events or occasions. Anton recommends planning ahead. “Think about what type of event you’re running and what issues or challenges might occur. Consider how many static security guards you need to cover doors and main areas, and how many people you estimate will be at your venue.” As a general rule, employ one security guard per 75 guests in addition to door security.
All security professionals should have a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence. Anton recommends working with staff who are experienced working with venues. “Security guards with an SIA licence may have experience working for corporate businesses, large scale events or venues. The individual security guard will know what is best suited to their abilities.” Question your security provider and ensure the professionals looking after your venue have experience working in the night-time industry.
A guard who has previously only worked managing the security of a retail shop, or a business premises, may not have the right experience to work within a night-time industry venue. Research shows that only 42% of people who applied for a Door Supervision licence went on to work within the night-time industry. The NTIA is working closely with the SIA to address the main issues surrounding licensing security shortages in the industry. This includes adding value to door security licensing, such as introducing a tiered system for more comprehensive licences and encouraging security companies to achieve the Approved Contractor Scheme accreditation.
Briefing your door security team
It’s not the security guard’s job to develop and action a door policy, however. You should brief your security team at the start of event shift, ensuring they are aware of key information such as:
- When your venue doors open and close
- Re-admission rules
- Bag policies or any restricted items
- Right of refusal
Information such as what forms of ID are accepted may seem basic, but it’s still your responsibility to ensure all members of staff and security teams know the rules and regulations.
Unique challenges come with unique rewards
“Being a security guard can be very hard at times,” Anton admits. “But most of the time the reward is that you’ve managed to help people that need it. This might be just helping someone call a cab, or finding lost property. But security professionals also help with much more serious issues such as injury or assault. Sometimes policing venues makes it a challenging but enjoyable job as you can really see the difference you’re making.”
As a security professional with over 20 years’ experience in the industry, Anton has had many exciting experiences. “I have seen things that most people will never get the opportunity to, such as seeing The Stone Roses and Motorhead play live.”
Licensed venue managers should never underestimate the value of a professional security team. Hiring experts to keep customers safe will relieve pressure on bar staff, who can then focus on what they do best: delivering great service. A strong security presence can increase general staff wellbeing as employees will feel protected whilst at work, and more comfortable in the environment.
No staff or customer should be abused or harassed in any night-time industry venue, and a strong security presence will prevent this. It will also help ensure your venue meets its licensing objectives and keeps the public safe from harm.
For further risk mitigation advice, please contact our specialist team.