Special Report - Security: A licence to protect

AEO projects director John Sanders explains how the events industry is affected by regulations governing security staff.

We have all heard the stories and have probably seen it or experienced it ourselves. A bouncer on the door of a club or pub decides to beat up some guy because he looks at him the 'wrong' way.

By no means all club doorman are of that ilk, but it has been a problem for the leisure industry for many years. So, to try to eliminate this problem, many local councils set up licensing schemes for doormen within their locale. Over time these schemes proliferated, all with differing standards and levels of effectiveness.

In response the government decided to introduce a national scheme for doormen across the country. The rationale seemed reasonable. Instead of dozens of unconnected schemes, we can have one with common training and a licence that is recognised by any local authority.

"So what does that have to do with the events industry?" I hear you cry.

"I don't employ bouncers at my events. My security is of a different type."

Well, that might be true, but the answer is that it has everything to do with you - because if you employ or contract security staff for your event there is a good chance you will fall within the auspices of the The Private Security Industry Act 2001 (PSIA).

You might not agree with it but it's here to stay, so you ought to be up to speed on what it means for you.

But why are we included in this piece of legislation clearly aimed at the pub and club industry? In short, it is because as usual civil servants don't understand the implications of the legislation they draft. They aim to solve an issue in one sector and find that they have caused problems for five other previously problem free sectors.

Anyway, why we are subject to the act is now largely academic. What is more important is, what is it and what do we have to do about it?

What is it?

The Private Security Industry Act 2001 (PSIA) brought into law the requirement for the licensing of security personnel according to national standards.

Predominantly aimed at staff looking after pubs and clubs, the legislation encompasses the events industry and as a result will impact on venues and organisers.

This guidance is based on guidance issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) to individual venues. The act is enforced by local SIA inspectors and as a result, interpretation may vary between areas.

So what does that mean?

In basic terms, it means that private security guards now need to undergo training and must be licensed to work. More specifically, a door supervisor's license is needed.

All security guards?

All those who undertake a security function in licensed premises need to be licensed.

The legislation does not require a door supervisor for all licensed premises unless entry to the premises is controlled.

What is meant by security function?

Broadly speaking, this means those who control access to a licensed area or those who respond to an incident in a licensed area (as defined under the Licensing Act) and/or remove individuals from it.

This does not include 'safety stewards', that is staff manning exit doors who are positioned for health and safety purposes such as evacuation.

These people do not need to be licensed at this time.

The SIA is comfortable with the concept of 'mobile squads' of licensed door supervisors being used in a venue to deal with any conflict situation and required ejection from the building. These squads can operate in support of unlicensed staff who are checking tickets etc.

This rationalises the need to have vast numbers of licensed personnel for whom security is not a core part of their function.

The number of door supervisors for an event is determined by a risk assessment.

Licensing arrangements

A door supervisor's license is required for those venues who now have their entire premises licensed rather than areas within the premises.

Any person controlling access to the 'licensed premise' will require a door supervisor's licence. This will include staff on build up, controlling vehicle entry doors and staff controlling public access to events (but not ticket checkers).

Who is responsible?

As a general rule, organisers will be responsible for ensuring security in the hall is licensed (if necessary), while venues will be responsible for the 'common parts'. For shows where the entire venue is hired, then different arrangements may apply.

Next month, is the terrorism threat to the industry real or not?


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