The passing of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 should see some radical changes in the way doorstaff in pubs, bars and clubs operate security.
Tackling drink-related crime has always been a top priority for licensees and the police, but soon doorstaff will be targeted in a drive to radically shake-up the private security industry.
In the past couple of months, the Private Security Industry Act 2001 has been passed in Parliament and, on the back of this, a strategy body is now being set up. This will look specifically at doorstaff working in Britain's pubs and clubs and should make sure that all employees are trained, vetted and approved in line with a national government standard.
The outcome should be that the minority of doorstaff who are perpetrators of violence, who are involved in selling drugs, or who simply turn a blind eye to problems, would not be able to work in the profession.
Licensees need to be aware of this new legislation - likely to be fully in place in the next two years - and any publicans that fail to do so could be liable to pay a £5,000 fine and serve a six-month prison sentence.
Andy Walker, door security expert and adviser to the Home Office on the matter (pictured below with former Home Secretary Jack Straw), told thePublican.com: "There are a number of reasons for introducing this new legislation. First of all, we all want to weed out the minority of doorstaff that are perpetrators of violence or who are involved in selling drugs.
"Secondly, we need to make sure that doorstaff are not just trained in evicting unwanted customers, but are also trained in health and safety, first aid and are aware of the relevant law. Doorstaff should be seen as an extension of the licensee.
"Thirdly, we need to bring regional schemes together to ensure that doorstaff are trained and approved to the same standard across the country."
Mr Walker explained that one significant problem is that while some regional schemes are very successful, others do little to improve the image of the profession. Furthermore, while doorstaff are qualified to work in some regions, a local authority scheme in a neighbouring borough may have different expectations and doorstaff may need to be retrained.
"This is like saying you have passed your driving test and can drive in London but not in Surrey," Mr Walker said. "It shows the need to have a national scheme."
The Act has come on the back of an extensive two-year research project into the door security industry carried out by Mr Walker. It has taken on board most of his recommendations and he will now sit on the committee that will decide on the best way to move forward.
Mr Walker said that the Home Office study "The Safer Doors Project", found severe failings within the industry and a number of recommendations have been made.
These recommendations will look at:
- securing and maintaining a degree of legal control over door supervisors
- reducing customer complaints about door supervisors
- reducing incidents of violent and disorderly behaviour in and around pubs and other licensed premises
- reducing the high rates of assaults on customers by door supervisors
- deterring door supervisors from acting aggressively or illegally
- reducing underage drinking and drug abuse in licensed premises
- enhancing the status of door supervisors through vetting and training by making them more accountable for their actions
- promoting better relations between police and door supervisors
- improving the safety of customers.
Licensees, the police and indeed the Government are all hoping that a national scheme will bring together some of the best aspects of the more successful regional door registration schemes.
When local authority schemes were set up in Newcastle and Luton in 1991, violent and drug-related crime in pubs dropped by 75 per cent.
All parties agree that it would be beneficial to cut pub-related crime this much on a national basis.
Cathie Smith, the British Institute of Innkeeping's director of qualifications agreed wholeheartedly that there was a need for a national scheme.
"This will set the standards and is an essential move forward," Ms Smith said. "It will also mean that doorstaff can work anywhere in the country because at the moment some local authorities have different schemes and expect different standards."
But the new legislation hopes to do much more than just cut pub-related violence. The whole image of the profession has received a battering over recent years and this looks set to change, according to Mr Walker.
"Nowadays doorstaff are there for much more than just ejecting people from the premises if they become unruly. They have a much wider scope of responsibilities such as health and safety and first aid."
For licensees looking to stay one step ahead of the game, an industry-training guide written to help doorstaff working at pubs and clubs comply with the new government legislation has also been published by Mr Walker.
The book "Safer Doors" focuses on a number of issues such as basic communication skills; using non-verbal communication; handling complaints and disputes; controlling aggression and equal opportunities.
It also teaches doorstaff the relevant aspects of the law including:
- the use of force
- offensive weapons
Licensees requiring further information on the new security legislation can contact Andy Walker and copies of his book can be obtained by telephoning 01555 665000.