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Does having security mean you are safe

Last Year I published an article exposing just some of the flaws I had seen and experienced in the security industry, from the age of 16 I worked for a security company the companies’ staff where divided into two groups stewards and licenced SIA security guards. Despite being in the first category I regularly worked alongside and with the Licenced SIA security guards so regularly saw a lot of what went on and had a lot of experiences I would rather not have had as not only did they make me feel uncomfortable at the time they make me weary and cautious of security now. I know where the flaws are and I see them when I shouldn’t.

These flaws can seem small, it can seem that they don’t matter. For example, I stewarded the London Marathon on two occasions, both times I was manning a road block ensuring no unauthorised vehicles drove onto the course both times I was alone without a radio, what if a car had struck me? I was alone who would know, who would help. What if a car drove past me onto the course? How would I raise the alarm? A car driving onto the course isn’t necessarily just a naïve driver or a disgruntled local, it could be something far more sinister. These sinister acts cannot be ruled out especially by the people hired to stop them and something as simple as all staff having radio contact with race control could raise the alarm quicker making a world of difference. These flaws are not small and they certainly do matter.

Although sinister acts being stopped by the people, we hire to stop may seem simple enough its not that easy. What if the people we hire are themselves sinister with intentions that are far from perfect? A large percentage of SIA security guards are male although there are more women coming into the job these days its still very much a man’s world. In 2017 the SIA licensing authority released data showing only 9% of licenced security guards where female. Now if a large group of men come together their jokes about women are hardly going to be kosher. But its when the jokes end and reality sets in that problems arise. Another event I stewarded was Glastonbury festival, where I was sat in a campsite for the nightshift with an SIA guard who was also an event supervisor at one stage a young drunk female stumbled past us. As she carried on down the site the SIA guard stood up and said I had better go make sure she’s alright. He followed her into the one spot of the site I could not see from my seat by the entrance, 5 minutes later he returned. I don’t know what happened it was probably nothing but I don’t know what happened, I didn’t tell anyone, even if I did who would I tell he was an event supervisor the bosses where not just his colleagues they were his mates. Did he have sinister intentions? did he carry out those intentions? I don’t know, but I do know that security staff should make you feel safe, they should not make you feel unsafe and leave you questioning their reliability and intentions.

A bartender in central London spoke to us about an incident at her work, like most bars there is a security team recently a colleague/friend of hers left the job shortly after an incident with one of the security team. On a work night out her colleague claimed she was harassed by one of the security team as a result of this the security guard was fired from the bar, although her employer had the right response by firing the security guard the fact is that it shouldn’t have happened the SIA regulations should stop this before it happens. the bar worker who wishes to remain unnamed had this to say on the incident. “It made me more weary of the security team for sure the whole lot of them weren’t the best, we have a whole new security team now and I feel a lot safer in their hands” I was able to contact the security guard in question and ask him if he felt he was unfairly treated. “they didn’t even want to hear my side I messaged to come in and chat about it they said no and when my area manager came to talk to them they didn’t give him a reason either” so could it be that venues are to quick to accuse for fear of getting in trouble themselves.

It’s also a stereotype that security can be violent and use thuggish behaviour. Also CCTV is becoming more prevalent in the workplace security always know the blind spots and when there Is blind spots CCTV is pointless. No matter how annoyed or angry a member of the security team gets they should  not result to violence in fact SIA training is all about verbally diffusing situations using force as a final option, but if security get wound up and want to give someone a hiding if they know a blind spot they will exploit this if they want to. Firstly, staff such as this should never be employed in the first place as the safety of customers is paramount, secondly these blind spots should not exist. Doorman should expect to be faced with drunk customers, these customers can sometimes be rude security should execute the correct response first verbally diffusing the situation and as a final result using force to remove or restrain them, the intention should never be to harm them. Speaking to Alex Lynch he told me of an occasion in a club in Liverpool where after an altercation with another customer he was assaulted by the security staff. “ I’d had an argument with another customer while queuing at the bar we had both had a drink or two and this escalated I to some pushing and shoving nothing major but enough that security wanted to remove us from the venue I asked to go to the toilet before getting kicked out once in the toilet the security began punching and kicking me then they dragged me out of the venue almost chucking me onto the street. I didn’t know what to do I could hardly go to the police I had no evidence and the club had me on camera starting the argument with the other customer, I know I was being a pain but to then be assaulted by the security is totally out of order”

Although the SIA governing body do take action including revoking licenses when staff are proven to be in the wrong is this enough in the case of Alex probably not these staff where never proven to be in the wrong so they were free to carry on and potentially do the same thing again and again.

Since the dark days of the 90s where security where feared, displaying gang like behaviour threating violence for the most minor of offences the industry has certainty improved, The introduction of the SIA regulatory and licensing body means staff are better trained and ready to deal with a wider variety of situations, it means staff are vetted better ruling out most of the trouble makers. However more still needs to be done, all staff need to have basic measures to ensure their security weather this is always working in pairs or being provided with basic communications devices such as a radio. All staff need to be told the channels they can go down to express concern about a colleague no matter who it is or how high up they are within the company.

As for venues they should ensure that door staff are professional not just relying on the SIA licencing body to correctly vet staff, it’s not in a venues best interest to have a gang of thugs patrolling their venue. Security staff should wear body cameras or at the very least should not be told where the CCTV blind spots are.

The SIA regulatory body should implement random checks on staff and if a staff member acts out of line with regulation action should be taken, these suggested measures may seem harsh but when safety is in question no actions should be ruled out and the upmost should be done to protect people from harm.