Subject 1: SIA Standards of Behaviour for Door Supervisors

What are the SIA Standards of Behaviour for door supervisors?

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) is the body responsible for licensing individuals working within the Private Security Industry, including door supervisors. The SIA has set out standards of behaviour that they expect door supervisors to follow. The aim of the Standards of Behaviour is to set, raise and maintain national standards of behaviour for door supervisors and set out the rules that door supervisors should always follow.

The authority of door supervisors to carry out their duties comes from the premises licence holder, or the premises management acting on behalf of the premises licence holder, and they can ask door supervisors to follow additional rules. However these additional rules should never conflict with the SIA standards.

What do the SIA Standards of Behaviour cover?

The Standards of Behaviour cover four main areas:

Personal appearance

Door supervisors should always:

  • wear smart, presentable clothes that show clearly that they are a door supervisor. Clothing must also meet employer guidelines
  • wear their SIA licence on the outside of their clothing, with the photograph displayed, at all times while on duty.

Professional attitude and skills

Door supervisors should always:

  • treat people in the same way as they would like to be treated
  • greet visitors in a friendly and polite manner
  • act fairly and not discriminate on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, marital status or any other difference in individuals which is not relevant to the door supervisors’ responsibility
  • carry out their duties in a professional and courteous manner with due regard and consideration to others
  • behave with personal integrity and understanding
  • use moderate language, which is not defamatory or abusive, when dealing with members of the public and colleagues
  • be fit for work and remain alert at all times
  • develop appropriate knowledge of local services and amenities.

General conduct

Door supervisors should:

  • never solicit or accept any bribe or other consideration from any person
  • not drink alcohol or be under the influence of alcohol or drugs whilst on duty
  • not display preferential treatment towards individuals
  • never abuse their position of authority
  • never carry any item which is or could be considered threatening
  • report all incidents to the management
  • co-operate fully with members of the police, local authority, SIA and other statutory agencies such as Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs, who have an interest in licensed premises and the way they are run.

The learner will understand the behaviour

Organisation/company values and standards

Door supervisors should:

  • adhere to the employing agency/company standards
  • be perceptive of the employing organisation/company’s culture and values
  • contribute to the goals and objectives of the employing agency/company.

SIA licensing of door supervisors

Under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, all door supervisors working in the United Kingdom must have a licence to practise issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).

It is an offence:

  • to work as a door supervisor if you do not have a licence
  • to employ a door supervisor who does not have a licence.

The maximum penalty for a person found guilty of working as a door supervisor or employing a door supervisor without a SIA licence to practise is a £5,000 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment.

To get a licence to practise you have to:

  • attend an approved accredited training course
  • pass the examinations, and
  • pass a criminal records check.

You need to make your application for a licence to the SIA.

What are the main roles and objectives of door supervisors?

As a door supervisor you may work at a variety of licensed premises such as pubs, nightclubs, casinos or maybe even big outdoor festivals such as Glastonbury or Reading.

Whatever the venue type, your main objectives are to ensure that customers have an enjoyable experience in a safe environment and to support the licensing objectives.

To meet these objectives, door supervisors have a number of roles that they must carry out as part of their duties. These include:

Delivering customer care by creating a safe and secure environment

To do this you need to have a professional and effective manner when:

  • meeting and greeting your customers
  • helping your customers
  • dealing with customer concerns
  • controlling the door
  • controlling behaviour inside the premises.

Controlling entry to the premises

Door supervisors are responsible not only for who enters the premises, but also what enters the premises, such as drugs, weapons etc. When dealing with people, door supervisors are responsible for refusing entry to those who:

  • are drunk or are under the influence of drugs
  • do not follow the dress code
  • have a reputation for criminal or bad behaviour
  • exhibit aggressive behaviour
  • refuse to be searched when requested by a door supervisor

Door supervisors are also responsible for controlling the number of people entering premises. Every licensed premises will have a permitted capacity limit i.e. the maximum number of people who can be on the premises at any one time. This limit will be set by the

premises licence holder and the relevant authorities, and will depend on factors such as the size of the premises, the number of fire exits etc. Once the number of people on the premises has reached this limit, it is the door supervisors’ job to not let any more customers in until some customers leave.

Monitoring behaviour inside the premises

Once inside the premises, most customers behave well and just want to have a good time. However, there are always the exceptions, and it is the job of the door supervisor to watch what is going on inside the premises and deal quickly with those who:

  • threaten the safety of other customers
  • spoil the enjoyment of other customers
  • put the management’s premises licence at risk.

Enforcing the law and helping to prevent criminal offences

When working as a door supervisor part of your role will be to:

  • explain to customers who breach house rules that their behaviour is unacceptable
  • handle complaints and disputes over service (e.g. between customers and bar staff)
  • defuse domestic disputes between customers
  • handle other arguments and fights
  • encourage customers to finish drinks and leave the premises at closing time.

Refusing entry, searching, evicting and arresting

To make sure that the majority of your customers enjoy their time at your premises and to help the premises licence holder to work towards the licensing objectives of the Licensing Act 2003, you may need to:

  • politely refuse entry
  • search people for drugs, weapons and other prohibited items
  • evict people – for example, for fighting, being drunk and disorderly or for other unacceptable behaviour
  • possibly arrest people.

Other duties

Door supervisors do a great deal more than just look after the door and you may be asked to do any or all of the following as part of your role:

  • pre-entry safety checks
  • emergency and evacuation procedures
  • first aid
  • health and safety
  • assisting in the normal operation ofthe premises.

Key qualities of a door supervisor

From what you have read so far you know that there are SIA Standards of Behaviour which door supervisors have to follow in order to carry out their duties to nationally recognised standards. However, in order to be a successful and professional door supervisor, an individual needs to have certain personal qualities and posses a wide range of skills.

Professionalism is key

In order to appear professional you must have the right attitude about your role – you need to be interested in what you are doing and want to do a good job. Door supervisors work in the public eye and for this reason their attitude is a key part of their professionalism.

Door supervisors with a positive attitude towards their job will behave in a positive, professional way when dealing with members of the public; they will also take pride in their appearance and how they dress.

It is essential that as ‘authority figures’ door supervisors also remain approachable and have a customer friendly attitude so that members of the public will not be frightened to speak to them should the need arise.

First appearances matter

You, the door supervisor, are the first person customers see when deciding whether to come to your premises or to go somewhere else. So, it matters how you look and how you speak to people right from the start. You will set the tone for the evening. If you look

smart and behave in a professional and friendly manner, customers will treat you and your premises with respect.

Communicating effectively

When speaking to customers it is essential that a door supervisor is polite and that the customer clearly understands what is being said. To achieve this, there are some basic rules to follow:


  • use plain language
  • be tactful and straight forward
  • speak clearly and without hesitation
  • pay equal attention to all members of a group.


  • make jokes or use sarcasm (this risks misunderstandings arising)
  • use jargon or unfamiliar words
  • interrupt
  • appear bored, impatient or hostile
  • talk too much or fill a silence too quickly
  • jump to conclusions before a speaker has finished
  • swear, use offensive words or be rude
  • make racist remarks or any comments that might exclude or upset any particular group
  • lean on a customer’s wheelchair, it is part of their personal space
  • allow a customer to feel humiliated.

Body Language – read the signs

As a door supervisor, you need to learn to read other people’s body language. It is often this that gives you a ‘gut feeling’ about someone – you may feel suspicious because you have picked up signals from a person’s body language. Fidgeting, eyes darting around and guarded body posture can all be signs of unease. However, some people are just nervous.

Being able to read body language can help you to spot difficult situations before they become real problems.

Leave a good impression

As well as being the first point of contact with customers, door supervisors are usually the last people customers see when they leave a premises and you want them to leave feeling that they have been treated fairly and with respect. Be a good representative of your profession and give customers a positive impression of the door supervisor’s role.

REMEMBER – you are in a good position to influence whether customers return to your premises or go somewhere else.

Subject 2: Door Supervisor and the Law

What is the law?

Laws are rules of conduct imposed by Government and are enforceable through the courts. When laws are broken there is usually a penalty, such as imprisonment or a fine. There are two basic types of law – civil law and criminal law.

Door supervisors and the law

One of the main duties of a door supervisor is to make sure that laws are not broken within, and in the operation of, the premises you work in. The areas of law that are particularly relevant to your job are:

  • licensing which includes the sale of alcohol, regulated entertainment and the provision of late night refreshment
  • drug misuse and drug dealing
  • sex discrimination
  • disability discrimination
  • race relations.

The purpose of knowing about these laws is to avoid prosecution and to ensure that no-one is treated unfairly on grounds of sex, race or disability.

The use of force

How much force can a door supervisor use?

Door supervisors may have to use physical force in the course of their duties. Such force must be no more than is reasonable and necessary (the minimum force necessary). Use of force above and beyond what is strictly reasonable and necessary could result in prosecution for assault.

REMEMBER – The use of any force should be avoided if at all possible.

Where can a door supervisor use force?

The authority given to you by the management of the premises to control customers’ movements or behaviour only applies on the premises. Therefore if a customer has left the premises, even if they are only a few feet away on the pavement, a door supervisor had no authority to use any force at all.

Find assistance when you need to use force

If force has to be used it is sensible to find someone who is appropriately trained to assist you. If this is not possible, it is advisable to at least have another member of staff available as a witness.

This is necessary:

  • to help protect yourself from injury
  • to help protect the customer from injury
  • to provide a witness to state that only reasonable and necessary force was used, and to protect against a possible charge of assault. Is the force being used reasonable and necessary?

The best way to judge what force is reasonable and necessary is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a need to use any force at all?
  • How does the person compare to me in terms of size, build or age, for example?
  • Is the person threatening to use any weapons?
  • Do I want to hurt the person rather than just protect myself?

The courts have the final decision as to whether the force used is reasonable and necessary.

When should force be used?

There are no easy rules about when to use force and how much to use, but remember your actions may lead to prosecution. The best advice is to use force as a last resort. There are many ways of defusing conflict and dealing with aggression that do not involve any force being used at all.

Keep a written record of when you use force

If you do have to use force write down every detail that you can think of, as soon as possible after the event, in the security incident logbook and in your personal notebook.

The consequences of using force

Using too much force has given door supervisors a bad image in the past. Customers look to you to ensure their safety. If they see you using too much force, even if they are not involved, they will feel threatened. This is not good for you or the reputation of the premises.

If injury is caused as a result of the force you have used, you might be accused of assault. The police or the courts will have to decide whether you have used more than reasonable and necessary force. If you did use too much force, you could be convicted of assault.

Any act of force could result in the police investigating your conduct, which may lead to prosecution.

Types of assault

There are several types of assault:

Common assault

When a person or people fight but there are no physical injuries, not even bruises or cuts

Actual bodily harm (ABH)

When an assault leads to actual injury. This might be cuts or bruises

Grievous bodily harm (GBH)

When an assault leads to serious injury such as broken bones

ABH and GBH include assault with intent

When it can be shown that an individual carried out an assault with the intention of injuring a person; for example, smashing a bottle and using it to injure a person would indicate intent

Assault on a police officer

Any assault on a police officer is seen as a serious offence

Racially aggravated assault

An assault on a person or persons accompanied by racial insults or motivated by racism

Indecent assault

An assault of a sexual nature inflicted on a man or woman by a man or a woman.

REMEMBER – assaults can occur even when the victim has suffered no physical injury.

All classes of assault are indictable offences (i.e. a person committing the offence can be arrested).

Offences against property

Door supervisors may have to deal with a number of different offences against property in the course of their duties, including

  • theft
  • robbery
  • criminal damage (graffiti etc)
  • making off without payment.

These are all criminal offences for which a door supervisor has the power to arrest if necessary.

NB – trespass is a civil offence and therefore door supervisors have no power to arrest someone for trespassing.

Arrest, evict or call the police?

Door supervisors need to use their judgement when dealing with incidents in licensed premises, which means being guided by the law and the premises’ house policy. It also requires a door supervisor to realise that what will work best on one occasion will not necessarily be the best course of action on another, given the involvement of different individuals under different circumstances.

In most circumstances, a door supervisor will only need to evict a customer who is involved in an incident. Only very serious incidents will require police involvement and even fewer will require a door supervisor to make an arrest.

REMEMBER – there are only a very limited number of offences for which a door supervisor has the power of arrest. This power should only be used as a last resort if it is judged that waiting for the police to arrive would result in further escalation of an incident.

Evicting customers

Sometimes you will have to evict people from inside the premises. This might be because:

  • they are breaking licensing laws (being drunk or disorderly)
  • they are breaking the law by playing games of chance
  • they are spoiling other customers’ enjoyment
  • they are breaking house rules (dancing on tables, carrying bottles on dance floors)
  • they are breaching criminal laws (theft, damage, assaults, drug offences)
  • their behaviour is putting the management’s licence at risk
  • they are prostitutes soliciting for business.

Most premises will have detailed rules on how and from which exit to evict someone, but the general procedure is as follows:

  • talk to the customer. This allows the door supervisors to point out that the customer’s behaviour is unacceptable and to give the customer an opportunity to stop the behaviour. For example, a customer standing on the table may come down of their own accord when asked to do so and no further action will be needed. However, there are some offences (such as being drunk and disorderly, and criminal offences) for which there is a legal requirement to evict, and in such cases the door supervisor should move directly to the next stage
  • warn the person. Ask them to stop the offending behaviour; warn them that unless they stop you will be forced to ask them to leave (do not use the word evict as this could come across as being aggressive which is likely to escalate the situation)
  • ask them to leave if they continue with the offending behaviour. Encourage them to leave of their own accord
  • eviction should only be considered as a last resort if the customer refuses to leave or threatens you. You may physically remove them with reasonable and necessary force – normally from the nearest exit.

REMEMBER – Any force used must only be reasonable and necessary. This means that you must use only such force as is reasonable and necessary to avoid injury to yourself and the customer or damage to property. Tell your colleagues before you take action in case you need assistance or a witness.

The police have a duty to help with eviction if asked to do so, as the designated premises supervisor or manager, or the door supervisors acting on their behalf, have a legal duty not to permit drunk or disorderly behaviour on licensed premises. If a person refuses to leave and you call the police, they have a legal duty to attend.

Don’t forget to write down the details of the incident as soon as possible after the event in the security incident logbook

Calling the police

If there is a risk of injury to the door supervisors, other staff or customers at the premises, the police should be called to deal with the incident. This also applies if there are weapons involved or if the number of people involved in the incident would make it impossible

for the door supervision team to tackle it safely. In the event of the police being called, the door supervisors should work to reduce the risk of further escalation of the situation,

observe and gather evidence which can be passed on to the police when they arrive at the premises.

Subject 3: Access Control and Searching

Why is an admissions policy important?

It is important for licensed premises to have an admissions policy as it helps to ensure that a consistent approach is taken on the door. This means that customers know what to expect and door supervisors can pre-warn customers in the queue if they know that they will not be allowing a certain person or group into the premises. The benefit of this is that conflict is less likely to escalate if people are not kept waiting in a queue only to be told that they are not allowed in.

There are two main reasons for having an admissions policy.

  • The law – there is a legal requirement not to let anyone enter or remain on licensed premises who is:
  • underage
  • drunk
  • disorderly
  • a suspected or known drug dealer.
  • The permitted capacity limit – The conditions of the premises licence will almost always state the maximum number of people allowed in the premises at any one time. Staff are not always included in this figure because there must be enough trained staff on the premises to help in emergency situations. See Chapter 8 for more on permitted capacity limits.

Many licensed premises will also add other conditions to the admissions policy, for example details of a dress code and the premises’ search policy. It is important for such information to be on display so that customers know, for example, that trainers are not permitted on a Saturday night, or that premises have a policy to search customers. This way, customers know what to expect and are less likely to react badly if they are not permitted entry or

are asked to empty their bags and pockets. Although these, and any other additional elements of an admissions policy, are important to each individual premises, they are not the main or most important reasons for having an admissions policy.

As well as welcoming customers, a door supervisor is responsible for following the admissions policy of the premises, firstly to ensure safety in the premises and secondly to make sure that house rules and standards are followed. To make this easier and to avoid conflict arising as a result of customers being refused entry the door supervisor must:

  • meet and greet all customers in a polite and friendly way
  • safely control the entry of customers and monitor the queue
  • carry out searches
  • deny access to any undesirable persons (e.g. those who are drunk, disorderly, under the influence of drugs or underage).

Authorised persons

Remember the police have a legal right to enter licensed premises at any time if they suspect that an offence against licensing law is being committed or is about to be committed. It is an offence to obstruct the police and other officials. Other officials such as local authority licensing officers, Environmental Health officers, HM Revenue and Customs officers or fire authority officers also have a legal right to enter the premises.

Refusing entry

You might have to refuse entry for many important reasons depending on the premises’ policy, and in order to uphold licensing law.

Entry might be refused because:

  • the premises is full
  • a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • a person is underage
  • a person refuses to be searched
  • a person is a known troublemaker, has already been barred or is under an Exclusion Order issued by the courts
  • a person’s attitude would spoil other people’s enjoyment
  • a person does not comply with the dress code
  • a person cannot or will not pay the entrance fee
  • a person is found in possession of weapons or drugs.

You must stop persons who are drunk, violent, quarrelsome or disorderly from entering the premises. You may also have to escort or remove such persons from the premises after admission. Police are considered to be experts in determining who is drunk.

REMEMBER – it is against the law to refuse entry only on the grounds of race, gender, sexuality, physical appearance or disability.

Do not confuse a person who is drunk with someone who has a disability, for example, a person who has:

  • speech difficulties and who also may be deaf
  • cerebral palsy, who may move limbs suddenly
  • learning disabilities.

When you refuse entry to someone, you must always:

  • be polite
  • fully explain your reason for refusing entry.

Refusing does not mean rejecting

When you have to refuse entry to a person because a premises is full, for example, explain to them why you are unable to admit them. When you have to refuse entry to a person because they are drunk, explain to them that you are unable to admit them because on this occasion they have had too much to drink. Remember, you are not personally rejecting that person, but their condition.

What to do when someone will not accept refused entry

People may not accept the reason for being refused entry. Your premises may have a policy about what to do in such cases. You should find out what this is, but the general rules to follow are:

  • when someone will not accept the refusal you should call the manager or designated premises supervisor
  • if, after the management’s intervention, the person still will not accept the refusal you should call the police.

The police have a legal duty to assist with an eviction if they are called because the person is either drunk or disorderly. If a person has been refused entry and enters the premises anyway, they commit the civil offence of trespass. Again, you may need to call the police if the person refuses to leave.

REMEMBER – a door supervisor has no power to arrest someone for trespassing.

Controlled exit and dispersal

Where appropriate, premises licence holders should have dispersal policies, which have been produced in consultation with the police and local licensing officers. These policies will show the steps the premises will take at the end of the trading session to minimise the potential for crime and disturbance as customers leave the premises. The policy may include:

  • displaying details of local taxi services, mini-cabs and public transport
  • regular collection of empty glasses and bottles, particularly just after closing. There may also be signs saying that leaving with glasses and bottles is not allowed
  • displaying notices near the exit requesting customers to leave quietly.

The role of door supervisors in controlled exit and dispersal

Door supervisors can play a key role in several aspects of any dispersal policy by:

  • encouraging customers to drink-up and make their way to the exit
  • drawing the attention of departing customers to any notices in the foyer asking them to leave quietly and to be considerate ensuring that bottles and glasses are taken from customers as they leave
  • actively encouraging customers not to congregate outside the premises
  • directing customers to the nearest taxi ranks, or other transportation away from the area.

Searching premises – pre-entry premises checks

Before customers are allowed in, it is the responsibility of the designated premises supervisor or manager to check that all reasonable measures have been taken to make sure the premises are safe. This check may be part of your job as a door supervisor and there may be a checklist to help you carry this out.

Members of the public should never be admitted until all pre-entry checks have been done and any problems have been resolved. The following checks must be carried out every time the premises are to open for business:

  • Exit routes – All emergency exit routes must be free of obstructions so that customers can leave the premises quickly and easily. This cannot take place if emergency exit doors are locked or if exit routes are blocked. Emergency exit doors usually open in the direction of the escape and can therefore be kept closed. They must be left unlocked. Inward opening doors should be kept open so that they can be used easily in an emergency.

A pre-entry check must ensure that:

  • all exit doors are unlocked and can be used
  • any chains, padlocks or other fastenings have been completely removed
  • panic bolts and latches should be checked to ensure they can be opened easily
  • there are no obstructions, such as parked cars outside the doors

or rubbish inside or outside exit doors

  • escape routes are not reduced by furniture or rubbish
  • any fire hazard, such as waste paper or litter, is removed
  • all fire exits signs are lit and clearly visable, for example, not obstructed by curtains or posters.
  • Fire doors must be kept closed as the purpose of a fire door is to make sure that fire is contained behind the door while customers and staff escape. Fire doors stop smoke and flames from spreading into escape routes and other parts of the building. Most fire doors

are self-closing, but if a fire door has to be kept open during operations, devices can be used to close it if there is a fire. In every case where there is such a device, the local authority must agree to it. If you are responsible for checking fire doors in your premises, you must find out from the manager whether any open door has this local authority permission.

  • Fire-fighting equipment, such as fire extinguishers and hose reels, must be in the positions stated by the fire authority and must be ready to use. They must be placed on their brackets. They should never be used to prop open doors. Unless you are a trained

fire-fighter, you should not try to tackle even small fires.

  • Emergency lighting – Emergency exits must be well lit and checks should be made to ensure that exit routes, stairways and fire signs are properly lit. Exit signs must always be clearly visible.
  • In most premises there is an emergency battery-operated lighting system. This will automatically activate if the mains lighting fails. This system must be checked to make sure it is in working order before the premises open.
  • Public address/fire alarm systems – All public address systems and/or fire alarms must be checked and in working order. The legal requirement is a test every 7 days.

REMEMBER – Make sure that you know what your responsibilities are for all pre-entry checks.

Searching people

Why carry out searches?

Searching customers ensures safety. Customer and bag searches are carried out to ensure that no weapons, drugs or other items are brought in which could:

  • spoil other customers’ enjoyment
  • put staff and other customers in danger
  • make the management liable to prosecution.

You may need to search potential customers before you allow them into your premises. You may also have to search customers after they have been admitted to the premises. You therefore need to know your premises’ procedure for searching people before and after admission.

Types of search

There are three main types of search:

  • a general search, when you will be required to search all customers
  • a random search, when customers to be searched are selected at random so, for example, 1 in every 10 customers may be searched (selection is usually made by some type of electronic system)
  • a specific search, when particular individuals, for example known drug dealers, will be searched. In this case selection cannot discriminate on the grounds of race, colour, sex or disability.

Pre-search procedures

Warn customers

  • the management of licensed premises can choose to search people as they come into the premises, and it is good practice to display a notice showing the premises’ search policy at the entrance or just inside the entrance.
  • customers should be warned that pre-entry searches could happen and also warned before they are searched. Customers who do not agree to be searched should be refused entry. If a search is requested after a customer has been admitted to the premises, but the customer refuses to be searched then you may have to evict them.

Get permission

You have no legal power to search anyone so you must ask permission to search. If you search someone without their permission, this could result in:

  • criminal proceedings against you for assault (criminal law is concerned with acts which are against the law and punishable by law)
  • civil action for compensation against you or the management (civil law is concerned with private rights).

Carrying out a search

When you search someone, you must:

  • be polite
  • be tactful
  • be positive and ready to ask and answer questions
  • be professional: firm but fair
  • be respectful.

Standard search procedures should include these rules:

  • get permission (see above)
  • make sure you have a witness present
  • if possible, search customers where the search will be recorded on CCTV
  • when searching bags, ask the customer to remove the items for you to see. You should not touch the contents of the bag
  • men must be searched by men; women must be searched by women. Only ever search customers who are the same sex as you
  • search the customer from the sides – not directly from the front
  • make sure you can see the customer’s hands and that they are open and away from pockets
  • keep a balanced stance and watch the customer’s movements
  • use questions to establish what they are carrying
  • ask questions rather than force your hands into pockets where there might be syringes or needles
  • never ask a customer to strip or remove clothing close to the skin.

What to look for when searching customers

When searching customers, you should look for:

  • drugs
  • offensive weapons
  • unauthorised items such as bottles of alcohol brought in from outside, spray cans, etc.

What is an offensive weapon?

Offensive weapons are any objects that are made, adapted or used to cause injury, for example:

  • coshes, knuckle dusters, telescopic truncheons or firearms (including replica firearms)
  • items adapted to injure, for example, toothbrushes with razor blades attached to them
  • any object used to cause injury to someone, for example, a barstool or bottle or any pressurised canister including deodorants, body sprays etc.

Generally, carrying an offensive weapon in a public place is an indictable offence. It is also an offence to carry a bladed or pointed article that could be used to injure someone

(An exception is a folding knife with a blade under 3 inches long). Carrying a weapon in case someone else attacks you with a weapon is also illegal. The penalty for carrying an offensive

weapon in a public place is up to four years imprisonment.

What are the hazards of searching?

The main hazard when searching is risk of injury from sharp objects such as blades and needles from syringes. The hazard is not only the injury itself (a cut or needle stick) but

also the risk of infection with viruses such as HIV and hepatitis. In order to protect yourself you may need to wear rubber or needle-proof gloves when carrying out searches

What should you do if drugs or weapons are found during a search?

You need to know the law and the management’s policy on:

  • which items you should seize
  • what to do when you find such items and what you should do with them.

Make sure the local police agree with the procedure. You should keep a written record of the search or find, which states:

  • how the item was seized
  • why it was seized
  • when it was seized.


If suspicious substances are found, the following action should be taken:

  • a member of the management team should be called to the scene immediately
  • show the management representative what has been found before anything is moved
  • the door supervisor who found the drugs and management member should take the drugs to a secure office
  • drugs in tablet form should be counted and placed in a plastic bag (using surgical gloves, if possible)
  • the plastic bag should be sealed using a tamper-proof seal (preferably numbered), and labelled to show the contents and the date
  • if tags and seals are not available, an envelope can be used. It should be sealed and signed across the sealing flap
  • the plastic bag or envelope should then be placed in a locked safe or other secure cabinet
  • the police should be called and the drugs handed over against a receipt (check locally agreed procedures).

Your premises’ drug policy should ensure that the integrity, continuity and chain of custody of any seized items will withstand scrutiny at every stage of the process. There has to be protection to prevent any allegation that drugs went missing, or that the quantity found was increased or switched. If you are involved in pre-entry searches of your premises, you

should always make sure you have a colleague with you. Details of any substances found should be recorded in the Duty Register by the person who found the substances.

If possible the pairings of those involved in searches should be varied so that you do not always work with the same person. This is to protect you from any possible allegation of malpractice.

Offensive Weapons

You need to know your premises’ policy on offensive weapons, but here are two examples:

  • Policy 1 – Seize the weapon; refuse entry to the person; follow the premises’ procedure for securing the weapon; record the incident.
  • Policy 2 – Seize the weapon; arrest the person; call the police; hand the weapon and customer over to the police; record the incident. You should never hold on to an offensive weapon even for a short time. Whilst it is in your possession you could be liable to prosecution.

Door supervisors are not above the law and must never carry weapons or blades.

Subject 4: Arrest

What is arrest?

Arrest means taking away a person’s freedom.

The decision to arrest is a serious matter. If all other methods fail, as a last resort a door supervisor may have to make a citizen’s arrest. Although the decision to arrest is ultimately that of the door supervisor or supervisors concerned, it is important that any action taken is in line with the employer’s policy regarding arrest and the appropriate procedures must always be followed.

REMEMBER – if you make an arrest you will have to justify your actions to your employer and the police.

What is an indictable offence?

You can only arrest for indictable offences which means an offence which may be tried at the Crown Court. Generally, indictable offences are more serious offences, such as:

  • serious assault
  • possession of

– firearms,
– offensive weapons or blades
– Class A illegal drugs

  • theft
  • arson

REMEMBER – not all offences are indictable and a door supervisor must not arrest for offences such as:

  • drunkenness,
  • possession of Class C drugs
  • trespass

On a few rare occasions the Crown Court has considered common assault to be an indictable offence. However, a door supervisor does not have the power to arrest for the offence of common assault.

What power of arrest does a door supervisor have?

A door supervisor’s powers of arrest are the same as those of any other citizen and being a door supervisor does not give you any extra powers or protection.

A door supervisor can only carry out a citizen’s arrest which means that you detain the person until the police arrive. When the police arrive, you should hand over the arrested person to them. s of citizen’s

Deciding whether or not to arrest

People who use and/or deal in drugs or commit other crimes on licensed premises can be cunning, manipulative, devious and sometimes violent. Personal safety must come first when dealing with such people.


  • be professional
  • remember your training, the guidelines in this workbook and locally agreed procedures.

If you follow these rules you will be better able to justify your actions later.

You can only arrest someone for an indictable offence and then only if it is necessary for one of the following reasons:

  • to prevent the person:

– causing physical injury to himself or another person
– suffering physical injury
– causing loss of or damage to property
– escaping before the police can attend.


  • if you think that it is not practicable for the police to attend and make the arrest instead.

You should also check with the manager of your premises to find out what arrest policy has been agreed jointly with the police force in your area. It is important not to arrest unless you are certain that you should do so. After you arrest someone:

– you will have to explain to the police why you did so
– if you were wrong to arrest, you could be prosecuted.

How to make an arrest

If you do have to arrest someone, try to do it without drawing attention to the incident.

When you arrest someone, if you can reasonably tell them, there are 5 things that you must say:

  • who you are (‘I am a member of the door staff here’)
  • that the person is under arrest (‘I am arresting you/You are under arrest’)
  • what the person is under arrest for (‘For assaulting that person’)
  • the grounds for the arrest (‘I saw you throw your beer glass at them’)
  • that the police will be called (‘You are going to stay here with me until the police arrive.’)

Make sure that another person is with you as a witness. When you arrest someone, you may put your hand on the person’s arm. This tells them that they are not free to walk away. You need to be careful as touching someone could trigger violence. If they become violent with you, use only reasonable and necessary force to restrain them.

After an arrest is made

After making an arrest you must watch the person until the police arrive to make sure that evidence is not disposed of (for example, drugs). There may also be an attempt to escape or to assault you.

When the police arrive:

  • explain what happened, what you saw and why you arrested the person, in the presence and hearing of the person who has been detained
  • give the police the names and addresses of any witnesses
  • hand over any evidence or items that you have seized.

If there is enough evidence, the police will arrest the suspect. You will then be asked to give a written statement. The police will help you do this. In some cases it may be necessary for you to attend court and give evidence based upon the statement you gave to the police.

Subject 5: Drugs

Drugs and licensed premises

Licensed premises attract illegal drug users and dealers. There is little doubt that as a door supervisor you will come across illegal substances. The main drug related crimes that you may find on licensed premises are drug taking, drug dealing and spiking drinks with drugs (deliberately putting drugs into a drink without the drinker’s knowledge), possibly in order to commit sexual offences.

Users of illegal drugs risk damaging their health or even death. Illegal drug use attracts crime because:

  • addiction leads people into other forms of crime to get money to buy drugs
  • suppliers may engage in criminal acts against each other to get buyers.

For the safety of the public and the entertainment industry, premises need to be kept drug free. The best policy is zero tolerance to illegal drug dealing and drug misuse. To achieve this you have to:

  • stop drugs getting into the premises
  • establish a reputation that drugs will not be tolerated.

As a door supervisor, you play a vital role in the strategy to keep your premises drug free. The drug free message must be firmly communicated to your customers. As you are the first member of staff a customer will meet, your role is very important.

Licensed premises are part of the community. Establishing contacts with the police, local authority officials, drug advisory services and outreach workers, as well as pub and club watch organisers, makes the door supervisor an important part of the partnership network. You should help whenever possible.

The law and drugs

There are a number of laws and regulations affecting the possession, supply and trafficking of illegal drugs.

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

This law lists those drugs which are ‘controlled’ and gives details of the range of offences and penalties UK courts can apply for each.

Drug classifications under the misuse of Drugs Act 1971

The drugs that come under the control of the Act are split into three classes – A, B and C – according to their potential harmfulness. The class also determines the penalties for offences under the Act. Class A has the highest penalties.

Below is a list of the principal drugs in each category, which it is an offence to possess under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971:

  • Class A drugs: opium; morphine; heroin; cocaine; crack; ecstasy; LSD; amphetamine prepared in injectable form; and magic mushrooms even if unprepared
  • Class B drugs: amphetamines; cannabis – resin and herbal
  • Class C drugs: two of the Benzodiazepines group of drugs (tranquillisers) – temazepam and flunitrazepam (trade name Rohypnol, often called the ‘date rape’ drug) are illegal to possess without a prescription; and GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate): a colourless liquid sold in small bottles or capsules which is swallowed. (The effects are similar to alcohol or Rohypnol. May cause sedation, nausea, vomiting, confusion and memory loss. It can be lethal when mixed with other substances, particularly alcohol).

Class C drugs which are not illegal to possess with or without a prescription but which are illegal to supply without a prescription: minor tranquillisers and anabolic steroids. (Minor tranquillisers are medicines mainly used to treat anxiety and epilepsy, or sleeping tablets).

The law does not differentiate between illegally manufactured drugs and pharmaceutical prescription drugs. For example, heroin in its illegal form and heroin in its pharmaceutical form are both Class A drugs.

Other substances which you may encounter in the course of your job but which are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 are:

  • Amyl-Nitrite (Poppers): yellow, golden or clear liquid found in small bottles or phials and inhaled by user. They are not restricted but supply of them could be an offence as they are controlled by the Medicines Act.

You also need to be aware that drug dealers may try to disguise controlled drugs as prescribed medication. This could be the case where a customer is carrying large quantities of a drug or substance.

You are not expected to have detailed knowledge about the different types and classes of drugs, but you do need to know the law and be able to identify the signs of drug misuse and know what to do. The most usual offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 are:

  • Unlawful possession: where a controlled drug is found to be in the possession and control of a person, unlawful possession may apply
  • Unlawful possession with intent to supply: where a person is found with a large amount of a drug – too large to be described as being for ‘personal’ use.

A person found on licensed premises in possession of a number of tablets or a number of individual wraps of a drug would be liable to prosecution for this offence. Supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug means any of the following:

  • selling, giving or sharing, or offering to supply a controlled drug or being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug
  • production or being concerned in the production of a controlled drug
  • cultivation of a cannabis plant
  • being the occupier, or concerned in the management, of premises and knowingly permitting or suffering any of the following activities to take place on those premises:

– producing or attempting to produce a controlled drug
– supplying or attempting to supply a controlled drug to another
– offering to supply a controlled drug
– preparing opium for smoking
– smoking cannabis, cannabis resin or prepared opium.

Allowing drug dealing or misuse on licensed premises is also an offence under the Licensing Act 2003. This means that an occupier or manager, who has a degree of control of the premises or over the activities of the persons on the premises, who knowingly allows drug activity commits an offence. ‘Knowingly’ has to be proved in this case. Turning a ‘blind eye’ to the obvious will constitute ‘knowingly’.

Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 and the Drugs Act 2005

These two Acts give police powers to control anti-social behaviour and drug dealing and misuse on licensed premises. Police have the power to close premises for up to 24 hours where dealing in Class A drugs is taking place. Closure will lead to a review of the premises licence and could eventually lead to the loss of the premises licence.

How to recognise drug misuse

There are several signs that might tell you that drug misuse is taking place in your premises. The following are indications:

  • physical symptoms
  • behaviour of customers
  • sweet ‘herbal’ smell
  • ‘drug litter’ in toilets, ashtrays, bins or on the floor
  • information from other agencies, other staff, or customers.

Physical symptoms

One of the signs of drugs misuse on the premises is the physical appearance of your customers. You may notice the following signs:

  • dilated pupils or pinpoint pupils
  • drunken appearance (without the smell of alcohol)
  • white marks/traces of powder around nostrils
  • excessive sniffing, dripping nose, watering or red eyes
  • sudden severe, cold like symptoms following a visit to areas such as the toilet/garden/car park
  • twitching limbs, excessive energy, excessive rolling of tongue over teeth and lips.

Behaviour of customers

Customers misusing drugs may behave in the following ways:

  • excessive giggling, laughing at nothing in particular, non-stop talking
  • unnaturally dopey, vacant staring, sleepy euphoria
  • non-stop movement, jigging about, dancing excessively
  • gagging or retching actions
  • excessive consumption of soft drinks or water
  • sudden, inexplicable tearfulness or fright
  • any marked alteration in behaviour following trip to toilet/garden/car park areas.

These are common effects but different drugs have different effects and may affect individuals differently. Also, mixing drugs with alcohol can change or increase the effects. Be aware that there may be other reasons for any strange behaviour – such as too much alcohol, a mixture of alcohol and drugs, or illness.

Also be aware that Rohypnol and other ‘date rape’ drugs, used to spike drinks may also induce such behaviour. You should try to look out for persons putting substances into other customers’ drinks

Drug litter

Drug users often leave behind litter, which provides evidence of drug misuse. Look out for the following:

  • syringes, needles, pipes, tubes, scorched tin foil, burnt spoons
  • small paper wraps, plastic, possibly self-seal bags (generally ripped open), small bottles or phials
  • razor blades or plastic cards used for chopping
  • cardboard filters on hand rolled cigarettes, ripped cigarette packets.

It is important that all staff are aware of drug related litter. The cleaner may be the first member of staff to find such litter and they must know how to deal with such items and who to tell.

Drug dealing

How to recognise drug dealing

There are several signs that might tell you that drug dealing is taking place in your premises:

  • a person or group of persons being very popular
  • an individual making regular trips to the toilets/garden/car park
  • customers staying for a short time and not buying drinks
  • deal lists – pieces of paper discarded with numbers and names (preserve as evidence)
  • secretive or sly conduct
  • information from other staff or customers
  • known users/dealers frequenting premises
  • money changing hands
  • a significant quantity of drugs found on search.

What to do if you suspect drug dealing

If you suspect that a customer is supplying drugs to others in your premises, you should do the following:

  • inform the designated premises supervisor or manager
  • act within the premises policy at all times – make sure you know what it says
  • ask other staff for help so that you have witnesses and proof
  • ask permission from the person to search them
  • if permission is refused, evict the person from the premises and call the police immediately
  • if permission is given and what you suspect may be drugs are found as the result of a search, confiscate the substances
  • you may have to arrest the person (see chapter 4) and call the police immediately
  • check CCTV, if available, to provide any evidence.

What to do if you are approached by dealers

Tell your management and get colleagues to help you if you are approached by dealers who:

  • threaten you in any way
  • attempt to bribe you
  • ask you to turn a blind eye
  • ask you to evict another dealer.

Dealing with customers in possession of or using drugs

Licensed premises which use door supervisors should have a drugs policy. You need to know the details of this policy.

If you suspect that a customer is in possession of or misusing drugs in your premises, you should inform the manager or designated premises supervisor. You may also need to search the person you suspect of misusing drugs. If this is the case:

  • you must ask the person for permission to search them
  • if permission is refused, evict the person from the premises and call the police immediately
  • if permission is given, you may search the person (see previously described procedure)
  • wherever possible, there should be two people present when a search takes place
  • the place where the search takes place should be secure
  • if drugs are found on the person they should be confiscated
  • the police should be called immediately
  • you may have to arrest the person (see chapter 4)
  • preserve any area where drug ‘litter’ is found for evidence.

Confiscating drugs

If you find drugs when you are searching a customer, you will need to confiscate them.

There must be an agreed drug policy document in your premises governing the procedures for dealing with finds and seizures. The policy and procedures should be developed with

the local police. This will ensure that everyone who may come into the possession of the drugs is protected.

The general rules that should be followed are:

  • any items found should be within sight of all parties at all times until they can be placed in a plastic bag or envelope
  • the bag should be sealed using a tamper-proof seal (preferably numbered) and labelled to indicate the contents and the date
  • if an envelope is used it should be signed across the flaps by those involved
  • the bag or envelope should then be placed in a locked safe or other secure cabinet
  • you may have to arrest a person for possession of controlled drugs
  • the police should be called immediately and the drugs handed over against a receipt (check locally agreed procedures)
  • notes should be made as soon as possible in a personal notebook giving details of how and where the substance was found
  • any relevant conduct or conversation with the person detained should be recorded
  • the Duty Register should also be completed as stated by the premises policy.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, door supervisors and other members of staff are not allowed to possess controlled drugs. However, there is a statutory defence for those who can show that they were only in possession of a drug for the purpose of destroying it or handing it to a person such as a police officer, who is lawfully entitled to take custody of it. This covers the circumstances when a controlled drug is discovered in a search.

To be fully covered by the defence it is necessary to show that your action was reasonable and prompt. This means quite simply that as a door supervisor you are unlikely to be prosecuted, if, in the legitimate course of your work you take possession of controlled drugs, provided you comply with the defence given in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

This means that the drugs must be handed onto a police officer as quickly as possible.


  • put drugs into your own pocket
  • take any controlled substance outside the premises
  • ignore drug taking
  • let anyone into your premises if you know or suspect they are drug dealers
  • act on your own in a situation involving drugs – always have a witness.

Dealing with someone who has taken drugs

If you think that someone is suffering from the effects of drugs you should:

  • speak calmly and reassure the person
  • if possible, take the person to a cooler, quieter area of the premises
  • ask the person’s friends for their co-operation
  • find out what drugs have been taken
  • inform the management who will decide if it is necessary to call a first aider or the emergency services
  • not offer coffee
  • never evict a person who is suffering badly from the effects of alcohol or drugs.

Finding drugs on the premises

The following guidelines will help you to know what to do if drugs come into your possession while you are working as a door supervisor.

If you are involved in pre-entry searches of your premises, you should always make sure you have a colleague with you. Details of any substances found should be recorded in the

Duty Register by the person who found the substances. If possible the pairings of those involved in searches should be varied so that you do not always work with the same person.

This is to protect you from any possible allegation of malpractice.

If suspicious substances are found, the following action should be taken:

  • a member of the management team should be called to the scene immediately
  • show the management representative what has been found before anything is moved
  • the door supervisor who found the substance and management member should take the drugs to a secure office
  • drugs in tablet form should be counted and placed in a plastic bag (using surgical gloves, if possible)
  • the plastic bag should be sealed using a tamper-proof seal (preferably numbered), and labelled to show the contents and the date
  • if tags and seals are not available, an envelope can be used. It should be sealed and signed across the sealing flap
  • the plastic bag or envelope should then be placed in a locked safe or other secure cabinet
  • the police should be called and the drugs handed over against a receipt (check locally agreed procedures).

Your premises’ drug policy should ensure that the integrity, continuity and chain of custody of any seized items will withstand scrutiny at every stage of the process. There has to be protection for everyone involved to prevent any allegation that drugs went missing, or that the quantity found was increased or switched.

It is important that any suspicious substances should be out of reach, but in sight of the person they were seized from, until they can be locked in a safe or secure cabinet.

Disposing of drug related litter and waste

Health and safety considerations are very important when disposing of drug related litter and waste. Risks associated with drugs include infections passed on through body fluids. These include hepatitis and HIV. Infections can be picked up if you are not careful when

handling syringes, needles, bandages and anything contaminated with blood.

The following are the basic rules that should be followed when disposing of drug related litter and waste:

  • Any materials such as blood stained tissues or toilet paper must be disposed of in the toilet or by incineration
  • Syringes and needles should be put into an empty bottle to prevent the risk of further injury
  • When syringes and/or needles have been put into a bottle, arrangements need to be made for them to be disposed of in a safe place, such as a ‘sharps box’ in a doctor’s surgery or pharmacy
  • For further advice on disposing of syringes you can contact your local needle exchange
  • You also need to be careful to keep any cuts or wounds you may have covered with a waterproof plaster, as well as wearing protective gloves, whenever you are working
  • As far as possible avoid directly touching any sort of contaminated waste as this will reduce the chances of you contracting infections such as HIV and hepatitis