The perception of the night is still a largely negative one, with many still associating the night-time as significantly less safe. Whilst this can partly be attributed to evolution – darkness means visibility is poor and thus we’re exposed to predators – it’s mainly due to people’s perception of feeling unsafe at night.

Whether people are afraid of being mugged, robbed or attacked, or they simply feel an underlying threat from heavy drinkers and a lack of people in the street, the “night” has quite a bad rep.

But what about venues specifically? Are they a hub for criminal activity? Does the night-time economy directly contribute to society’s perceived fear of the night due to poor security measures?

Most venues employ door staff to act as gatekeepers both for those entering the club and leaving it. They challenge age, check for drugs and will often be the first port of call to break up a fight or assist in calling an ambulance should someone fall ill outside.  

The private security sector supplies door staff to venues across the UK. But security resource is reported to be low across the night-time industry. Once upon a time, one operator would provide security resource for a whole festival. Now, organisers are employing the services of several different security companies just to find enough qualified security staff to comply with regulations. And the problem only increases during busy periods such as over Christmas or the summer festival season.

NTIA is working with the SIA (Security Industry Authority) to identify key issues surrounding the licensing security shortage.

So far, research has shown just 42% of people who applied for a Door Supervision license went on to work within the night-time industry. There are several potential reasons for this:

  • Having a more comprehensive Door Supervision license costs the same as a Security Guarding license. The lack of price differentiation and tiered system means there’s no differentiation between the roles, their risk and their purpose.
  • The risks are significantly higher for those working in the night-time industry, due to the nature of the industry and its potential clientele
  • Hours and working patterns are far more irregular for those working in night-time venues when compared to working in shops or offices
  • The night-time industry generally offers part-time work on a flexible basis, which is unfavourable when compared to working as a security guard for a shopping centre (for example)
  • The rate of pay is generally no higher for door staff at night-time venues

Addressing some of these key issues could be a route to encouraging more people to apply for a Door Supervision license, thus increasing the number of people working in the night-time security industry.

Night-time security and the ACS

Security companies are also facing ongoing problems regarding regulation. The Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) is part of the SIA. The scheme tries to raise and maintain a level of high industry standards, enabling organisers to advertise themselves as being an Approved Contractor.

Achieving ACS accreditation is voluntary, leaving many organisations hesitant to apply. Non-ACS accredited organisations can employ staff on a self-employed, freelance basis without concerning themselves with PAYE and pensions, which is more favourable for some. Plus, the cost of ACS accreditation could be a deciding factor – particularly as the scheme is voluntary.

The NTIA is working on a whitepaper that will bring the industry up to date on these security issues. By adding value to door security licensing and ensuring it continues to be regulated by the SIA, the safety of the night-time industry will increase.

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