The requirement to search is usually intended to prevent illegal drugs or weapons from entering your premises. If this is an issue for you, a good search policy is key – it keeps your customers safe and acts as a strong deterrent. In a world where belt buckles and even credit cards are apparently being sold with ready-made blades, vigilance is paramount.
Here are a few issues to consider:
Door supervisors – they don’t have legal or statutory powers to search any person, but you can effectively have a “condition of entry” which simply means that customers won’t be allowed to enter the premises unless your door staff are permitted to search them;
Never forcibly search anyone;
Display a sign explaining your search policy, which may include the use of metal detector wands or a metal arch;
Explain what you will be searching for – illegal drugs, weapons and any other items unsuitable to be brought into the premises. Most customers will appreciate searches being conducted for their own safety;
Carry out your searches as courteously and efficiently as possible;
Any random search policies should be carried out with such frequency as to act as a deterrent, and the selection of customers to be searched must not be made on any grounds that could be regarded as discriminatory and therefore unlawful;
Male door supervisors may ask female customers to empty the contents of their handbags or pockets on to a table but otherwise should not carry out a “pat down”. Female door supervisors should be used in these circumstances;
Seizures of illegal drugs or weapons should be recorded and the police notified;
Do you have any “Achilles heel” entrances that someone could use if they wanted to smuggle in a weapon, without needing to go through your search procedure? This could include time-windows where troublemakers have already brought weapons on to your premises before your search policy started;
A frank but vital question – do you trust your door team? There is absolutely no point having a search policy when one or two members of your door team let their mates through or are otherwise not enforcing it.
This is your premises licence – difficult to obtain, easy to lose. A fatal stabbing at your premises could potentially see you closed for several weeks following a summary review, not to mention the human tragedy and the PR consequences.