Safer Doors

Safer doors

All extracts are taken from the "Safer Doors" book. Published by Geddes and Grossett. Copyright laws apply.

Your Rights if Arrested

Should you be arrested by the police whilst working as a door supervisor, it is important that you remain calm and that you co-operate with the arresting officer, even if you feel that the arrest is unjustified. You must not obstruct or resist the arrest, as criminal charges against you may follow if you do, even if the original reasons for the arrest turn out to be wrong.

Following your arrest you will be taken to the nearest police station so that the matter for which you have been arrested can be investigated, to determine whether or not you committed the offence that is being alleged.

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984, as well as giving private citizens and police officers various powers of arrest, lays down rules and conditions with which the police must comply in relation to the treatment of anyone they arrest. This brief section has been included to appraise you of these regulations, all of which can be found in codes C and D of the Codes of Practice, a book published explaining your rights.

On your arrival at the police station you will be met by the Custody Officer, who is normally a sergeant. The facts of your arrest will be related to him by the arresting officer, and certain details and information (name, address, age etc ) about you will be recorded on the custody record, a written or computerised record of your time in custody.

You will then be searched for illegal or unauthorised items, and informed of your rights whilst in police custody. They are that you have the right to :-

  • speak to an independent solicitor free of charge
  • have someone told that you have been arrested
  • consult the 'Codes of Practice' covering police powers and procedures

You will be told that you may do any of those things there and then, but if you do not you may still do so at any other time whilst detained at the police station. You will be given a written notice explaining these rights, and you will then be asked to sign on the custody record to acknowledge receipt of the notice.

Once your detention has been authorised by the Custody Officer you will be informed of the grounds for your detention as soon as practicable, and certainly before being questioned about the offence for which you were arrested. You will then be asked to sign on the custody record to indicate whether or not you require legal advice from a solicitor.


Any person who is under arrest at a police station is entitled to speak to a solicitor at any time, day or night. This service is free, so it costs you nothing. Access to legal advice can only be delayed in certain exceptional circumstances, which can be found in the Codes of Practice. If you do not have a solicitor of your own you may ask for the duty solicitor. He has nothing to do with the police. Alternatively you may choose your own solicitor from a list in the phonebook.

You are entitled to speak to the solicitor in private on the telephone, and/or the solicitor may visit you at the police station.

If the arresting officer wants to question you about the offence for which you have been arrested, you can ask for the solicitor to be present whilst you are interviewed. Only in certain circumstances (explained in the Codes of Practice) may the police interview you before you have had a chance to speak to him.

Once the booking-in procedure is complete you will either be placed in a cell whilst enquiries are made into your arrest, or you may be interviewed straight away.


As mentioned earlier, you are entitled to have a solicitor present with you during the interview if you want one.

Interviews are conducted on tape now, so both the questions you are asked and the answers that you give will be recorded. At the beginning of the interview everyone in the room has to formally introduce themselves, and you will again be reminded of your rights. You will also be reminded that you are still under caution, which means that you do not have to say anything, but that it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something that you later rely on in court, and that anything you do say may be given in evidence. You will then be asked a series of questions about the offence that is being alleged against you, and you get your chance to explain your version of what happened, if you decide to.

At the end of the interview you will be given another printed notice which explains your rights with regards to getting a copy of the tape if you or your solicitor require one.


Whilst in police custody you are entitled to the following :-

Visits and contact with outside persons
In addition to your rights to have someone informed of your arrest, and to legal advice, you may also receive visits, at the Custody Officer's discretion. Unless certain conditions apply you may also make one telephone call, and be supplied with writing materials.

Reasonable standards of physical comfort
Where practicable you should have your own cell which is clean, heated, ventilated and lit. Bedding should be clean and serviceable.

Adequate food and drink
Three meals per day. At least two light meals and one main meal shall be offered in any period of 24 hours. Drinks should be provided at mealtimes and upon reasonable request between meals.

Access to toilets and washing facilities
Access to toilets and washing facilities must be provided.

Replacement clothing
If your clothes are taken from you (for forensic examination for example) you must be given replacements that are clean and comfortable.

Medical attention
You may ask to see the police doctor (or another doctor at your own expense) for a medical examination or if you require medication. You may also be allowed to take or apply your own medication at appropriate times, but in the case of controlled drugs the police doctor will supervise when doing so.

Where practicable brief outdoor exercise may be taken daily.

Making representations
When the grounds for your detention are periodically reviewed, you have a statutory right to say why you think you should be released, unless you are unfit to do so because of your condition or behaviour.

Copy of the custody record
A record of your detention will be kept by the Custody Officer. When you leave police detention or are taken before a court, you or your solicitor shall be supplied with a copy of the custody record as soon as practicable. This entitlement lasts for up to 12 months after your release from custody.

Once the arresting officer has made all of the enquiries into the matter that he can at that stage, he will report to the Custody Officer who will make a decision as to what should happen next. There are 4 main courses of action that he can take :

  1. you may be charged with a criminal offence and kept in custody for the next available court
  2. you may be charged with a criminal offence and bailed (released) to attend court at a later date
  3. you may be bailed to return to the police station at a later date, by when other enquiries will have been completed, and a decision on possible charges will be made
  4. you may be released unconditionally, and no further action will be taken on the matter.

Only under certain conditions may the police keep you in custody for more than 24 hours, but you will normally be released once the arresting officer has questioned you, which is usually within a few hours. The Codes of Practice fully explains the rules of periods of detention.


Although the Police and Criminal Evidence Act does not apply to the police in Scotland, there are very similar rules and regulations in force there with regards to how people in custody are dealt with. If you are arrested you will be given a printed form explaining your rights, as you do in England and Wales.

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Non-Verbal Communication

When we communicate with others we not only give out verbal messages, but non-verbal messages as well, which gives others signals about our attitude and personality. These non-verbal signals are normally given out sub-consciously, without us even realising what we are doing.

Various academic sources estimate that only about a 10th or our information comes from the verbal or spoken word, the rest coming from non-verbal signals given off by us to the person we are communicating with.

It makes sense, then, that as door supervisors interact with people during the course of their duties they should take care to ensure that they only give off the non-verbal signs that they mean to, and that they can accurately interpret those signals given off by others.

Supervisors need to appreciate that the meaning and use of non-verbal communication varies between individuals, cultures, sexes and even circumstances, so they should not jump to hasty conclusions on the strength of one-off gestures or signals. They should also be aware of their own style of non-verbal behaviour to make sure that they do not unwittingly offend people or give the wrong impression of themselves or of the profession as a whole. The early recognition of anger, frustration or aggression during an encounter can also reduce violent incidents, thereby reducing the chances of supervisors being injured at work.

Non-verbal communication can be divided into two groups, namely supplementary verbal language and body language.

The phrase "It's not what you say, but how you say it explains precisely what supplementary verbal language means.

Door supervisors need to use a gentle tone in their voice, for example, when trying to reassure a victim or when trying to obtain information from someone they need help from. They may need to use an assertive tone, however, when trying to be authoritative to establish control during an incident. It is not so much the words themselves, but the way in which those words are said which would determine whether or not the supervisor is taken notice of.

Some people regularly use spaces or pauses between words and sentences. They also use totally meaningless words and phrases such as "you know what I mean" or "ers" and "ums". These are usually used to give the speaker time to think about what he or she is going to say next, and their frequency often increases when they are nervous or under stress.

A person's voice, including the words, intonation, vocabulary, accent and even certain phrases can give a lot of information about their basic background, culture, class, age, sex, colour or attitude. Variations in volume, pitch and rhythm can also show how they feel in particular situations.

Body language is the name given to the whole group of non-verbal signs we give out as we interact with others. If door supervisors are aware of their own body language then they will be able to display deliberate signs and signals to give them control in situations where it is required. If they can successfully interpret the body language of others they will be able to understand how someone is feeling during an encounter, and then decide on the best way to deal with them. As mentioned earlier, being able to predict someone's aggressive attitude before it has a chance to unfold will enable supervisors to react accordingly, thereby giving them the opportunity to discourage or prevent acts of violence towards themselves or others.

It is said that in the first 10 seconds of meeting or seeing someone we form an impression of what they are like, and that they form an opinion of us. Even before words are exchanged this happens, so it follows that our appearance, our clothes and demeanour, go a long way to determining how others perceive us, and how we perceive them. Having said that, door supervisors also have to be careful not to be unduly influenced by a person's appearance, age, dress, speech or gestures, thereby reducing the chances of making inaccurate or unfair judgements. They should also be conscious of their own self-image and how they use it to influence those around them. There can be a difference between the way we see ourselves and the way that others interpret that image.

Supervisors need to project a clean, smart and positive image to customers. Dirty or unkempt clothes or uniform creates a bad visual image, as can the wearing of unnecessary jewellery. The large gold sovereign rings, for example, can project an aggressive image to some people, particularly to those who see them as potential weapons as well as ornaments.

Although the types of clothes a person wears, or how they wear them, can reveal clues about their personality, they can also be like a costume and represent what the wearer is pretending or trying to be.

How a person stands, arranges their body or angles their head in relation to others can also give clues about their personality and as to how they may be feeling. It can also show how much interest a person is taking in a situation, and how much respect or approval they may be feeling.

The position of someone's head during an encounter, for example, can indicate feelings they are having at that time. If their head is bowed forward it usually indicates submission or support, particularly if it is nodding. Held slightly back may show signs of aggressive tendencies, but held upright may show assertion or awareness.

Facial expressions are generally thought to be the most revealing form of non-verbal communication. Such signals are usually sent sub-consciously as they are the most difficult for a person to control, and so are probably the most accurate to interpret as well. Expressions can, however, have different meanings for different people. A frown can mean puzzlement or annoyance, and a raised eyebrow can mean either surprise or disbelief. A smile can mean friendliness, happiness, or can be an attempt to conceal distress.

Differences also exist between the non-verbal signs that are used by males and females. Women, for example, usually smile more than men during encounters with others, and tend to adopt a less relaxed pose than men.

Supervisors need to be aware that people's facial expressions can mean more than one thing, so must be careful not to make the wrong decisions when dealing with members of the public in what are sometimes very stressful situations.

We all use our eyes to give and receive more information than any other part of our body. It is said that just by looking at someone, and in particular at his or her eyes, we can quickly assess their attitude, and tell during an encounter whether they are going to behave aggressively or submissively. We can often also decide on their state of mind at the time, as in whether they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or whether they have any form of mental condition.

The length of actual eye contact we give someone is also important. Giving someone too much eye contact during a confrontation can appear too domineering to some people, or even aggressive. Just by looking away from the person occasionally during the conversation can make us appear much more relaxed and less confrontational, showing us to be more of a helper than a hinderer.

Maintaining a good healthy amount of eye contact during a conversation with someone can also show that person that we are actively listening to what they have to say to us. Nodding occasionally as we listen also shows concern and support, and that we are taking in what they are saying.

Touch is often used as people communicate with each other, usually to emphasise a point. It is also used to show control or dominance.

Physical contact is obviously acceptable in close or friendly relationships, but door supervisors need to be careful not to offend or frighten people by touching them when it is not necessary. They should also show courtesy and sensitivity when touching people during a search at the point of entry for example.

A person's gestures and movements have a lot of meaning when taken in context with what they are saying. Some people have their own personalised set of gestures that they use regularly, and observing these can show a wide range of emotions.

Showing the open hands and making the palms visible tends to show openness, as does the uncrossing of arms. Gripping the opposite arm with a hand, crossing the arms or holding the hands in front of the genital area on the other hand tends to indicate defensiveness.

Someone who has their hands clenched with the thumbs rubbing over each other, or who nail bites or touches their throat or something worn at the throat may suggest that the person is in need of some kind of reassurance or is frustrated in some way. Other signs of frustration include running fingers through the hair, scuffing at the ground or hand wringing.

Confidence may be indicated by more frequent or prolonged eye contact, an erect posture, a faint smile or hands clasp behind the back. Nervousness may be seen by the subject maintaining a distance from the other person, quick and jerky movements of the body, furtive movements of the eyes or clearing of the throat before speaking. Nervous people also fidget a lot when under pressure.

We have outlined briefly some of the more common signals that people give out during an encounter.

Door supervisors need to learn to recognise these signals so that they can readily identify potential problems, and so react accordingly or take the appropriate safety measures.

They also need to be aware of their own aggressive or unco-operative signals to the people they deal with. They must learn to fine-tune their own communication skills so that they can be used to the best effect.

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Basic Communication Skills

Door supervisors need to use effective communication skills to enhance relations with the members of the public they come into contact with everyday. How they conduct themselves and how they communicate and interact with others will have a direct bearing on how the public see those door supervisors individually, and as a profession. They need to develop their interpersonal skills so that they can be used to their best effect.

Communication skills are all to do with the effectiveness with which we communicate meaning, guidance and intention to others, and of influencing their behaviour or potential behaviour.

Each time that door supervisors deal with a customer or others members of the public it is called an 'encounter'. Door supervisors need to be aware of the appropriate attitude to adopt towards various types of people, and should take care in how they talk to them, and how they deal with different situations. Each encounter will demand and should achieve a reasonable response, and should reach a conclusion that is satisfactory to all parties concerned. Whilst it is accepted that not all encounters will end happily, the correct and conscious use of effective communication skills should keep incidents of aggression towards door supervisors to a minimum.

It is very important that supervisors adopt a positive and healthy attitude towards their work. Attitude is the state of mind with which you approach a situation. Your attitude life affects how you look, what you say, what you do, how you feel (both physically and mentally) and how successful you are in what you do. A positive attitude to your work can increase your chances of success, job satisfaction, safety and well being, chances of promotion and can even affect your life away from the workplace.

In all of their daily tasks door supervisors should endeavour to:-

  • Learn more about their work
  • Try to do a better job
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm
  • Be willing to accept changes
  • Understand others viewpoints
  • Respect the rights of others
  • Be dependable
  • Be honest
  • Be positive
  • Be fair
  • Accept justifiable criticism
  • Be a good listener
  • Be punctual
  • Be polite
  • Be cheerful
  • Be helpful
  • Be patient
  • Be loyal
  • Be open
  • Be constructive
  • Be consistent

As door supervisors deal with people and situations they have the opportunity to influence the attitude of the public. They should realise that to the person they are dealing with at any particular time they represent the whole profession. One of the most important factors in maintaining the trust and respect of the public, is that all door supervisors are seen to conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism. Supervisors must be constantly aware of the impression they are creating, and must strive to maintain a professional attitude at all times.

When dealing with the many and varied types of incidents that door supervisors are likely to come across in their work, you will be required to make decisions as to what course of action needs to be taken.

Supervisors have fairly wide-ranging powers to help deal with these situations. They have powers of arrest, the rules of trespass and can obviously give words of advice to customers whose behaviour or actions are unacceptable to the house but do not warrant arrest or ejection.

Door supervisors are required to exercise a certain amount of discretion in the actions they choose, as there will be a variety of ways that they can deal successfully with an incident. Using discretion requires the selection of the best course of action, having recognised and considers all of the alternatives.

When using discretion you may, in certain circumstances, make a decision not to act in situations where you would usually be expected to. This failure to act might be seen as favouring or discriminating against certain individuals or groups, which could lead to accusations of not performing your duties correctly, or of harassment or corruption. For this reason door supervisors should ensure that such decisions are based on an objective consideration of all of the factors surrounding the event. You should if called upon be able to fully justify your actions, so that the grounds for the decision are appreciated.

When exercising powers of discretion, door supervisors should consider:-

  • Who they are dealing with
  • What the possible outcomes are
  • How the incident occurred
  • When and where the incident took place
  • Whether they should act or not
  • How they should act
  • How those actions will be seen

Discretion involves selecting the best course of action after identifying the considering all of the alternatives. Door supervisors are required to make informed decisions and to be responsible for their actions. They must understand the law, their powers and the extent to which their freedom to use discretion is limited by those laws and the rules of the premises.

The professional use of discretion if an essential part of door work, but the fair and reasonable application of the rule is also necessary to maintain the respect and support of the public.

We all have expectations about what reactions we will get from other people in certain situations. These expectations can be positive or negative, and can be based of accurate views of those people, or on inaccurate, false expectations based on prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination.

Stereotyping is having a set of beliefs about groups in society which is cased on insufficient and incorrect information, and which label people by how they look, dress, their occupation, class, gender or culture.

Prejudice is unfavourable opinions or feelings formed beforehand, without knowledge, thought or reason

Discrimination is when we act on our prejudices to discriminate between groups of people.

If door supervisors try to categorise people because of their assumptions, then they may be caught off guard when those people don't react the way they are expected to.

Whenever door supervisors become involved in situations with other people they should:-

Make sure that any assumptions they make about the people are based on knowledge and not on a stereotypical idea of what they are like

Take note of what those people do and say, so that they can react accordingly

Acknowledge that individuals may well have expectations of door supervisors as well.

The way that door supervisors speak to people they come into contact with can either help or hinder them in their efforts to communicate their purpose.

You should speak confidently and politely to customers in a manner and in language that they will fully understand. If explaining a legal requirement to someone you should put it in plain speech so as not to confuse the customer with legal jargon, and should not try to use other jargon or phrases, which are exclusive to the job.

Do not use insulting terms or phrases to describe groups of people, ever to other supervisors. Some words exclude or undermine certain groups of people, reinforce stereotypes or carry negative undertones.

The way in which you enter an encounter or situation will make a lot of difference as to how the parties concerned will receive you, and then how the encounter will progress. The success or failure of the encounter will often depend on how much you know about the situation and how you start the encounter. Door supervisors will sometimes come across situations where they do not initially understand what is happening or why, so it is important that they first of all gather sufficient information upon which they can make a decision as to how to proceed. Asking simple questions such as, "What's the problem?" will usually be sufficient for one or more of the parties involved to try to explain what is going on.

It is at this stage that the people you are dealing with form their first impressions of you and what you will do. Depending on your approach they may feel that you are genuinely trying to help solve their problems, or that you are just going to throw everyone out of the premises.

Sometimes particular situations will require you to use your authority to calm the proceedings and to prevent problems from escalating, whereas at other times a friendly approach would be more appropriate.

Explaining your situation and telling the other parties what you would like to happen and why will often bring about positive results if they can see that you are willing to help.

Having entered into an encounter, whatever it may be, your task is to try to resolve the situation to a successful conclusion. This may have to be done under difficult or stressful conditions depending on what is happening, and where possible you should also try to take into account peoples feelings and expectations as you are dealing with them.

Door supervisors need to listen properly during as encounter, a skill neglected by many people. The person talking to you will expect you to listen to them and to at least take an interest in what the have to say, even if the situation is not ultimately solved in their favour. You should show them respect by actively listening to them, being attentive and having patience and understanding. You can show a person that you are listening to them by maintaining eye contact with them, avoiding distractions and by asking questions to clarify what they are saying. Try not to interrupt them as they are putting their point across to you, as this might indicate to them that no matter what they say you have already decided the conclusion to the encounter.

Attempts should also be made to try minimise any embarrassment the person may feel when speaking to you. The way you speak to them can go a long way towards putting them at their ease.

It can cause further problems for door supervisors if a crowd gathers whilst they attempt deal with someone. Though not all of the people standing nearby will be hostile towards the supervisors as they deal with someone for a breach of the house rules, it is a possibility that you should be aware of. For this reason it is often better to try and deal with people in relative privacy if at all possible. Even if it just means asking a customer to come away from his group whilst you speak to him can be enough to prevent his mates from becoming involved in what you have to say to him on his own, which will reduce the chances of an aggressive reaction.

Door supervisors, like other people, do not like being considered wrong, or being accused of unjust behaviour. For this reason some supervisors find it difficult to apologise. We are all susceptible to making mistakes, whether it be giving someone wrong information or accusing the wrong person of some misdemeanour. In these circumstances as apology is not an admission of failure, and may even earn you some respect. If you have made a genuine mistake, offer a dignified but genuine apology.

One question often asked by new or inexperienced door supervisors is how formal they should be when speaking to customers and other members of the pupil. There is no absolute answer because of the different types of individuals you will be dealing with, and the many varied circumstances in which you will encounter them. Some situations will obviously demand a quite formal manner in order that supervisors can exercise the necessary authority and control when it is required, but at most other times an informal, friendly approach will be received better.

Encounters can end in different ways, namely by enforcement when you have to eject someone from the premises, by resolution of a problem where perhaps you have warned someone about their behaviour and they have accepted the warning, by advising someone to help them solve their own problem, or by referral to an outside agency such as the Police if the problem needs to be resolved by someone away from the premises.

Whatever the outcome or result of the encounter, the idea should be that the other person goes away thinking that you are a good representative of the profession, as opposed to them leaving with a reinforced negative stereotype of door supervisors.

If you consider this every time you deal with someone, then you should find that less encounters end in aggressive or negative behaviour by the other person.

Saying "NO" can be very difficult for some people. None of us like to feel unpopular, and most of us do not like getting an aggressive reaction when we say "NO" to someone else.

Part of door work involves saying "NO" to people. Refusing entry to drunks or to people who try to get in after the cut-off time all involve saying "NO".

As long as you are correct and within your rights to say "NO" to people for whatever reason, then you should be able to do so without making excuses, feeling embarrassed, beating about the bush or having long winded explanations. The key to an assertive "NO" is to remember that you have the right to say "NO" without feeling guilty. Saying "NO" firmly and reasonably is quite acceptable to most people, and saying it becomes easier with practice, and saves a lot of worry and lack of self-respect later.

Identify situations that might require a "NO" answer

Practice saying "NO"

Prepare a polite but firm refusal

Don't feel guilty about saying "NO"

You are refusing a request, not rejecting a person

A refusal does not have to be heavy, aggressive or hurtful

Use a definite tone of voice, don't hesitate or sound insecure

Consider offering an alternative (another venue or another night)

Once you've said "NO" do not change your mind. If you get a reputation for backing down people will work on you until you do.

It is important that when dealing with customers and other members of the public, door supervisors listen properly to what is being said. If someone is trying to put a point across to you, take care not to pre-judge what they are saying. Let them finish their side before acting upon what they have told you. Deciding what to do before fully understanding what is being said is a sure way to jumping to a hasty conclusion, and consequently to taking the wrong course of action.

Active listening involves being open and unbiased as to what you are being told, listening properly to what is being said, interpreting and understanding what has been said, and then taking the appropriate action.

Be aware also that drunk, angry or distressed people often say things that they do not really mean, so supervisors sometimes have to try to ignore any insults or criticisms that are thrown at them, and try to concentrate on the real meaning behind what the person is trying to say.

If you cannot understand exactly what someone is trying to say to you do not pretend that you have. Ask questions of them until you fully understand what their problem is. Try to acknowledge their point of view, even if you do not agree with it. Supervisors need to fully understand what a problem is before they can even start to try to resolve it.

A good listener does:-

  • Make supportive eye contact
  • Show interest
  • Use encouraging body language
  • Reassure the other person
  • Be patient
  • Repeat key words
  • Make sure that unclear points are clarified
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Repeat the other person's view to clarify it
  • Ensure that everyone who wants to has a chance to speak

A good listener does not:-

  • Appear bored, impatient or hostile
  • Talk down to the other person
  • Disbelieve, make light of or ridicule the other person
  • Make distracting gestures
  • Talk too much
  • Interrupt
  • Fill a silence too quickly
  • Jump to the wrong conclusions before the speaker has finished
  • Seem to favour one or two members of the group
  • Show that you are judging the other person
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Controlling Aggression

All door supervisors will encounter aggressive behaviour at some time or another. People sometimes get upset when things don't go their way, and can get very emotional when trying to put a point across during an argument. Rude, insulting or antagonistic behaviour towards door supervisors is a regular occurrence, and to a certain extent they have to learn to ignore it and try to find out what the real problem is. Occasionally, however, people exceed what is generally seen as an acceptable or understandable level of aggression, and so door supervisors then have to react in an attempt to either diffuse the situation, or to use controlling or even defensive measures against the aggressor. Each situation needs to be assessed on its own merits, and the door supervisor must then react according to the threat to himself and to others.

Aggression may be defined as 'an expression of violence or hostility, made verbally or physically by an individual in reaction to a situation'. Door supervisors need to be able to control their own aggression, and should certainly not adopt an aggressive attitude as a matter of course.

Door supervisors must learn to anticipate aggressive behaviour by others before it happens. They need to be aware of subjects or incidents that are most likely to bring out aggression in others, such as ejections and refusals to entry. They should know the appropriate laws and house policies, and understand which ones may be unpopular with some people.

They also need to identify ways of diffusing aggression so that they can avoid encounters turning into confrontational situations. Telling someone that they have had too much to drink as they join the end of the queue will get a more sensible reaction than if you wait for them to come all the way up to the front doors before letting them know that they cannot enter the premises.

Door supervisors should also have pre-planned answers to the most common sources of conflict. This is why knowing the law and house policies is so important here. Having set answers to peoples' complaints and reasons for particular policies that they might not agree with or understand will help as well.


Provocation - Either party in an encounter can provoke the other towards aggression. If a door supervisor, for example, handles an encounter badly by being unsympathetic, rude or threatening towards a customer, then that may well provoke an aggressive reaction from them.

Door supervisors themselves should endeavour to diffuse potentially violent confrontations, and not to provoke the other party into behaving more aggressively than he already is. It is worth remembering here that some members of the public still have a negative stereotype of door supervisors, and that that in itself can provoke a bad reaction when spoken to by one.

Escalation - If a person is protesting to a door supervisor about a decision that has been made against him, and realises that that decision is not going to be changed, he may well increase his level of aggression in an effort to enforce his view or just to vent his anger. As the encounter escalates from an argumentative attitude to actual aggressive behaviour, the door supervisor needs to remain alert and be prepared to take control of the situation before it gets out of hand.

Confrontation - The final stage is the confrontation itself, when the person openly expresses his feelings of anger towards the other, either verbally or physically. It is here when door supervisors need to use effective communication skills to try to diffuse the situation, and if necessary to take control of the encounter. If physical violence is directed at the door supervisor, then he should instigate the appropriate defensive techniques, only using direct force against the other person if all other methods of diffusing the situation have failed. Unfortunately, in some situations only the appropriate use of reasonable force will stop the aggressive behaviour towards the door supervisor, other members of staff or customers.

Door supervisors should try to use a set procedure to weigh up a situation, and to alter their actions to fit the level of resistance against them. If you ask a customer to do something and they refuse, it would obviously be totally unreasonable to use force straight away to make them carry out the request.

The pneumonic R E A C T is given to provide door supervisors with a guide as to how to escalate the level of control they use during an encounter or conflict.

R - request
E - explain
A - appeal
C - confirm
T - take action

The first stage is where the door supervisor asks a customer to comply with a request ie. to leave the premises. Whilst most people will do as they are asked to by a member of the security staff, some will refuse or want to argue the point, or will try to persuade the door supervisor to back down.

If the customer does not understand the request, or does not know why he is being asked to comply with it, then the supervisor should explain. He should be told which law or house policy he has breached, or what behaviour has caused the request.

Should the customer still refuse to comply with the request the supervisor should repeat it, and appeal to the customer to do what he is being asked, explaining what action will be taken if he still fails or refuses to comply. Someone refusing to leave licensed premises when asked, for example, should be told that he may be physically ejected from the premises by the door staff, or that the police will be called.

If the person still refuses to comply with your request, then before resorting to the use of force you should, for your own protection, just confirm that the person totally understands what you are asking him, and that he will not do as he has been asked. Using a phrase such as, "Is there anything I can say to you that will make you co-operate ?" gives the person one more chance to change his mind and comply, and is also a good defensible phrase for explaining why and how you have used force against another person.

The final stage when all other methods of persuasion have failed is to take action. In the case of the person refusing to leave the premises this will usually mean summoning the assistance of other supervisors and physically ejecting the person from the premises, using only the minimum amount of force required to effect your purpose.

If door supervisors follow this guide before using any amount of force during the course of their duties, then they should be able to answer any questions asked of them by way of justification for those actions. The person has been given four opportunities to comply with the request, so no-one can allege that he was not given the chance to do what he was asked before the resulting action was taken.

As an encounter escalates, and the aggressor becomes more emotional or angry about his position, door supervisors need to watch that person carefully so that they know when the situation is likely to progress to the use of violence by that person. Door supervisors normally get a gut-feeling when a confrontation is about to turn nasty, but they should also take note of the person's body language in an attempt to predict any aggressive action he might take. Signs which might indicate an increase in the aggressive attitude of someone include using extended eye contact with the door supervisor, a more threatening facial expression, raised voice, change in body stance, head tilted slightly back, enlarged movements of hands and arms towards the door supervisor, moving closer towards him, or obvious fidgeting as he prepares to fight.

If door supervisors can learn to recognise these signals as preparation for violence, then they can prepare themselves both physically and mentally for any imminent attack. It also gives them time to summon assistance from either other door supervisors or from the police, and to consider in advance their options regarding the use of force.

Once this stage has been reached in the encounter the door supervisor must be on his guard for a physical attack. Again, he must closely observe the person's body language which will give out signs to indicate when he is about to resort to direct violence. If the door supervisor misses or ignores these signs he will lose the advantage he has by being properly prepared.

The parts of the body that need watching if the supervisor thinks that an attack may be imminent are:-

HEAD - although the head is usually held slightly back as the person shows aggression, just before a physical attack it is dropped forward in an automatic motion to protect the throat.

EYES - the size of someone's pupils can give important clues as to how they are feeling. During the early stages of aggression a person's pupils dilate. Just before an attack, however, they contract in reaction to the feelings of anger or hatred. So a sudden contraction of the pupils is a good sign for door supervisors to take the appropriate defensive action.

Door supervisors themselves can use direct, unbroken eye contact to dissuade an aggressor from actually attacking. When used in conjunction with other assertive body language it can persuade the other person that you are ready for an attack, and that it might not be such a good idea for them to continue, as you are ready to defend yourself.

Just before a person hits something his natural action is to look at it. If you see your aggressor suddenly glance at your stomach area or chin, prepare for him to try to strike you there. As you are watching his eyes take note if he suddenly drops his eyebrows, as this also may be a sub-conscious action to protect the eyes during a fight.

LIPS - the lips often tighten over a person's teeth just before launching an assault against another person. Either that or the lips are pulled back showing clenched teeth.

FACIAL COLOUR - people's faces are usually full of colour when they are feeling worried or are under stress. If during a conflict, however, the face suddenly drains of colour it may be a sign of rage or loss of control, and that the use of physical violence is imminent.

BREATHING - breathing deepens visibly when someone is about to strike out. The chest can often be seen to rise and fall deeper and quicker just prior to an attack.

UPPER LIMBS - people naturally tense up their shoulders and arms when they are about to fight The shoulders tend to raise, the arms bend at the elbow and the main fighting tools, the fists, are usually clenched and raised above waist height. These, again, are usually the last signs you will see before the person strikes you.

LOWER LIMBS - in order to get the body into the best position to fight, someone about to attack will often turn slightly so that their body is at a slight angle to yours. This is normally done with their strongest arm raised and ready to strike. Often they will also drop slightly by bending their knees just before the attack.

Door supervisors must learn to recognise these warning signals in people in order to be able to correctly predict when someone is about to attack them.

If during a confrontation with someone you notice any of the warning signals mentioned previously, then you will not have long to react as the attack against you may not be far away.

You should immediately make more space between you and the aggressor by either moving back or by putting a hand up between you and him. If the person has already started to come towards you, use loud and assertive verbal commands such as "GET BACK". This will let him know that you are ready to defend yourself, alert other members of the public to stand back, and will hopefully attract the attention of other door supervisors who may be able to come to assist.

You should adopt a defensive stance with your own open hands up above waist height in case you need to use physical means to defend yourself. Any force you use must be only that which is reasonable and necessary to avert the attack (see Use of Force).

The following list of do's and dont's should help you in the de-escalation process of confrontations, hopefully preventing them from progressing to physical acts of aggression.


  • use effective monitoring techniques
  • make early interventions at incidents
  • be assertive
  • use relaxed and non-aggressive body language
  • speak in a firm but calm voice
  • adopt a consistant approach
  • ensure that you know relevant laws and house policies
  • make eye contact but avoid staring
  • stress your own, your companies and the legal position
  • allow aggressor to express his feelings
  • show that you are listening and are interested in his point of view
  • express understanding of the situation
  • take the heat out of the situation
  • use slow, calm and deliberate body movements
  • calm aggressor down prior to controlling his behaviour
  • control your own reactions to the situation
  • set a time limit to the confrontation, then be assertive and end it
  • breath slowly and evenly, control your voice and use it to calm and reassure
  • give assertive requests and then commands
  • give accurate reasons for your decisions
  • give aggressor plenty of space
  • watch his body language carefully
  • let offender save face
  • only use force as a last resort


  • show an aggressive attitude
  • use intimidatory or authoritarian methods
  • use angry, hostile or insulting remarks
  • make threats
  • be condescending towards him or patronise him
  • use aggressive gestures like pointing or finger-wagging
  • give orders like "Shut up" or "Sit down"
  • show inattention or indifference to his feelings
  • invade his personal space
  • raise your voice unnecessarily
  • use prolonged eye contact
  • show distress, fear or aggression in you voice
  • take verbal attacks personally
  • respond to taunts or insults
  • make the aggressor feel foolish
  • let him play up to the crowd
  • walk away or turn your back while the aggressor is talking to you
  • be taken by surprise by conflict, be prepared

By following these guidelines door supervisors should be able to project a positive image during a confrontation, and predict when an aggressor is about to attack. This will increase the safety for the door supervisor, promote his levels of professionalism and promote community confidence in door staff generally.

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Robbery prevention

Any premises that regularly handles large quantities of cash when it is open for business could be the target of a robbery. Such robberies can be in the form of professional armed-robberies, but in the night club environment is more likely to be a violent till-snatch.

Certainly most night clubs have a till area near the entrance where a member of staff takes the entrance fees from customers as they enter. This is the most obvious target for a robbery, with the possibility of the perpetrators getting away with a large amount of cash in a very short space of time.

Professional armed-robbers have usually properly researched the premises, and know exactly what they are after and how they are going to get it. They would know exactly who they will have to get past to reach the money, and would normally be aware of all of the security procedures and devices put in place to prevent such an attack. These types of professional criminals will very often carry firearms during a raid in an attempt to prevent anyone from trying to stop them from committing the offence. They will usually appear very calm and disciplined in everything that they do and say.

Amateur or opportunist robbers, on the other hand, may never have committed such an offence before, and will probably be doing it on the spur of the moment. They may be trying to steal the company's money in an act of desperation, and may well be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, or even both. These types of people can be especially dangerous because they will be under severe stress at the time of the robbery, and may be very unpredictable. They may panic if their plan does not work, and could well turn to violence in an effort to effect their purpose.

There is also the possibility of a mentally disturbed person attempting to rob the premises, who may again be very unpredictable and/or violent.

All of the above mentioned types of criminals can be dangerous for different reasons, so it is the threat of staff or customers being injured or even killed during a robbery which is more worrying than the theft of the money itself.

For this reason it is important that all members of staff are properly trained in :-

  1. Robbery prevention measures
  2. What to do in the event of a robbery on the premises
  3. What action to take after a robbery has taken place in order to help the police in catching the suspects and securing a successful prosecution in court.

This section is aimed at assisting door supervisors at licensed premises in formulating their own robbery prevention techniques in conjunction with the management, and to advise them on how best to react during and after a robbery situation at the premises where they are working.


No licensed premises can make itself that secure that it is impossible to rob it, but there are some basic measures which will make it a less attractive place to attack. The majority of the measures listed here will be up to the management to put into place, but door supervisors should be aware of them so that they can give the appropriate advice if and when it is required.

The till area should be situated a short way back from the entrance to the premises, with the door supervisors in between the front door and the cashier. This shows an immediate barrier between the would-be robber and the contents of the till.

Highly visible CCTV cameras overlooking the till area may also deter suspects from doing anything where they may be identified on video at a later date.(even dummy cameras can work)

Display signs informing customers that there are anti-robbery devices operating on the premises, such as time-lock safes, security cameras and regular emptying of the till.

Do not allow large amounts of cash to build up in the till over the evening. Regular transfers of money from the till to a proper safe will ensure that if the till is robbed, the financial loss will be kept to a minimum.

If possible a secure lock-box should be installed within the till area so that the cashier can deposit quantities of cash at regular intervals into it, keeping the amount in the till to a minimum.

Cashiers should be advised not to count money in view of members of the public as this only draws unwanted attention to how much cash there is in the till. Cashing-up should be done in an office out of sight.

Cashiers should not be left at front of house unaccompanied at any time.

Try to be discreet when moving large amounts of money to an office to be counted. It is not desirable or necessary for the public to know where all of the cash is kept.

All doors to such offices and other private areas should be kept locked at all times.

Installing anti-grab till screens around the till drawer makes it difficult for anyone to take cash out of the till from the other side of the counter.

A panic alarm fitted either under the counter or in the till will enable the cashier to alert other members of the security team or the police as a robbery is being committed. If the alarm is silent then the robber does not even know that it has been activated, but help has already been summoned.

If door supervisors or any other members of staff are suspicious of someone hanging around the premises, or anyone showing a particular interest in the till area, then the police should be called immediately to check the person out.

The Crime Prevention Officer (CPO) at the local police station would be happy to do a security survey on the premises, and to advise on any procedures or equipment he thinks necessary to prevent robbery.


All of the prevention measures in the world will not stop the truly determined or the opportunist robber from attempting to attack your premises, so it is important for the personal safety of all members of staff and any customers who may be nearby that certain procedures be followed in the event of a robbery taking place. People will look to the door supervisors for protection and guidance in times of emergency, so you need to be aware of the best course of action to take should someone make an attempt at robbing the premises.

  1. No attempts should be made to fight, stop or detain the robber unless you are absolutely sure that it is safe for you and for those around you to do so. No amount of cash is worth risking the life of a door supervisor or a member of the public for.
  2. Always co-operate with the robber as he is unlikely to hurt anyone if he gets what he wants.
  3. Do not show any form of resistance or hostility towards him, as this may frighten him into taking more extreme measures to get the money.
  4. Try to keep the time it takes for the robber to leave the premises to a minimum. The longer he is there the more desperate and frightened he will become.
  5. Do not try to rationalise with the robber or try to get him to change his mind as he will probably see this as a tactic to keep him on the premises longer, thereby increasing his chances of capture.
  6. Try to avoid any sudden movements which may be misconstrued by the robber.
  7. Warn the robber of any possible surprises such as the expected arrival of other members of the door team which he may think have come to prevent him from effecting his purpose.
  8. Do not stare at the robber as this may antagonise him.
  9. Try, without the robber noticing, to remember as much of a description of him as you can. Note particularly his height, weight, build and any other non-changeable characteristics such as voice, accent, eye colour, facial features, scars, tattoos, descriptions of any weapons shown and any particular phrases or sayings that the robber uses. Details of his clothing at the time of the robbery will assist the police during an immediate area search for the suspect as well.
  10. Cashiers should, if given a bag to fill with cash, start to fill it with the coins first, then move onto the notes. These should not be placed in the bag in neat piles as crumpled fistfuls of notes will make the bag appear fuller quicker. If the robber gets frightened and leaves before the till is completely empty then this procedure may reduce the company's financial loss.
  11. If a silent alarm is installed behind the counter then it should only be activated if the cashier is sure that the robber will not notice it being done.
  12. The robber's direction of escape should be noted for the police, and any index number of a getaway vehicle must be written down as soon as possible.
  13. The police must be called as soon as the robber leaves the premises.
  14. Door supervisors should not chase or follow the robber away from the premises unless they are absolutely sure that it is safe to do so. Armed-robbers should not be followed as they may turn back to attack their persuers.


The first priority following a robbery on the premises must be the well-being of customers and other members of staff who were present during the incident, particulary anyone who may be injured as a result of the attack. Contacting the police and assisting with scene preservation comes next, followed by making as detailed an account as possible of the incident whilst the details are still fresh in your mind. The following list is intended as a reminder of the tasks and priorities to be made immediately after a robbery at the premises.

  1. The police must be called as soon as the robber has left the premises. The sooner they are alerted to what has happened the sooner they can start to search for the robber, and then attend the scene to assist the door team.
  2. Call for an ambulance at the same time if any of the staff or customers have been injured during the robbery. Administer first aid to anyone who needs it until it arrives. Be observant for anyone showing signs of shock after the incident, and treat accordingly.
  3. Preserve the scene for the police. Vital evidence can be lost during the first few minutes following a robbery, so door supervisors need to take charge of the scene as soon as possible. Ensure that nothing is touched or moved, and try to identify anything that the robber has touched so that it may be preserved for fingerprints.
  4. Ask any witnesses to remain at the scene until the police arrive. Anyone insisting on leaving should be asked for their name and address before they go, so that the police can speak to them at a later stage.
  5. On arrival of the police you should give them a brief oral account of what happened, and show them to any items or areas you have preserved for their examination.
  6. The cashier should be asked to work out how much money was taken during the robbery and in what denominations, so that the information can be passed to the police. If the till was touched by the robber, however, this task should be left until it has been properly examined by the police.
  7. If a CCTV system is in operation at the premises it should be brought to the attention of the police so that the video tape can be seized as evidence.
  8. Take time as soon as you can to sit down and write notes of everything you can remember about the incident. What was said and done by the robber, his description and any other detail that you can remember. Use sketches if you find it useful. You will remember far more details about the incident immediately after it than you will just a couple of hours afterwards. As many witnesses as possible should be encouraged to do the same, independently of each other. When the police get round to taking full statements about the robbery from all of the witnesses they will get a much fuller and probably more accurate account of what happened if everyone has had a chance to make notes soon after the incident.
  9. Do not give out information about the robbery to any outside agencies such as the press until you have been authorised to do so by the police. To do so may hinder their investigation and lessen the chances of the robber being caught.

Being involved in a robbery, particularly a violent one, can be a traumatic experience for anyone. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with the stress, but few people can remain totally unaffected. If necessary the police can refer victims to professional counsellors through the Victim Support Scheme. If you or anyone that you work with requires any support or help following such an incident, you should in the first instance contact the officer in charge of the case.

If you or the management of the premises need any more help or advice on how to make yourself, other members of staff or your premises more secure, then you should contact the Crime Prevention Officer at your local police station.

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Scene Preservation

Should a serious offence occur on the licensed premises at which you are working, then you are in an ideal position once the incident itself has ended to take charge of any possible crime scene until the arrival of the police. Valuable evidence can be lost within seconds following a serious assault for example, making the police's job much more difficult to trace and prosecute any offenders. Door supervisors need to immediately take charge of any scene following an incident, establishing physical command of the area until police arrive, so ensuring the preservation of any vital forensic evidence.

There are four important principles to good scene preservation:-

  1. Preventing evidence from being contaminated
    ie adding footprints to a scene, or leaving any other items at the scene which were not there at the time;

  2. Preventing evidence from being destroyed
    ie smudging fingerprints, or walking on footprints in blood;

  3. Preventing evidence from being removed
    ie glasses or weapons being moved, or furniture being re-arranged;

  4. Preventing evidence from being moved
    ie unnecessary tidying up when the positions of items may be of importance.

These principles are best upheld by noting or even recording details of a scene prior to moving anything, covering or retrieving any items which may be of importance for later examination, only allowing people who absolutely need to be at the scene anywhere near it, and by immediately informing the first police officers at the scene of the nature and the location of anything you think may be of value to the investigation. The decisions you make at the outset, and how you communicate your actions to the police, may greatly affect any investigation.

Scientific or 'forensic' evidence as it is called, is vital to the police for linking suspects to victims, scenes and weapons. It is also used to prove or disprove people's stories, to eliminate suspects and to answer other questions which may arise during the course of an investigation. This is why door supervisors need to identify a possible crime scene following a serious incident, so that they can evaluate the scene from a safe distance, consider the possibilities of forensic evidence, preserve as much as they can and certainly anything they particularly consider will be of use to the police, and then inform the first officers at the scene what they have seen and what they have done.



If door supervisors remember the four ways in which forensic evidence is lost, and the three actions to take on identifying a possible crime scene, then they will be doing as much as can be expected to assist the police on any subsequent crime enquiry

At the end of the last century it was discovered that people have very distinctive patterns of skin ridges on their hands and feet, and that although those ridges run roughly parallel to each other they also change directions in different places, forming definite distinctive patterns. These marks, commonly referred to as fingerprints, are most noticable on the fingers and thumbs. The varying characteristics can be identified and compared, and remain the same on a person for the whole of his or her life.

It is an as yet undisputed fact that no two people have the same fingerprint patterns, so fingerprint evidence is invaluable for identifying suspects, prosecuting offenders and eliminating suspects.

Fingermarks are deposited when the finger tips touch smooth surfaces and leave marks made from the sweat between the ridges. Marks can also be left if a suspect's heavily bloodstained fingers touch some types of surface, by leaving the impression from the ridges of the fingers on the surface.

When moving any article of any possible fingerprint value, such as a bloodstained knife or a broken beer glass used in an assault, door supervisors must be careful not to leave their own fingermarks on top of the suspect's, or smudge them so that they are no longer of any evidential value. Although your fingerprints can obviously be eliminated from the enquiry, if you have to preserve an article it is often better if at all possible just to cover the article so that it cannot be touched by anyone until the police arrive and take it away for forensic examination.

Shiny, smooth surfaces like glass or metal are good for retaining fingermarks, so certainly any bottles, glasses, knives or firearms should wherever possible be preserved for examination by a police Scenes of Crime Officer.

At the scene of a serious assault or fight there may well be traces of blood on people's clothing, on weapons, or on floors, walls, ceilings and furniture.

Blood is extremely useful to the police in the investigation of serious crimes because it can be grouped to identify suspects, and to collaborate victim's allegations. The interpretation of blood splattering can also be used by examining traces found on suspect's or victim's clothes, or any other surfaces where drops of blood have landed, to determine such things as how many blows were used in an attack, the positions of the victim and the attacker at the time of the assault and even sometimes the actual sequence of the blows or events.

Bloodstained weapons and other items should be preserved for fingerprint examination. Walls, ceilings and furniture with blood splattering should be left untouched, and particular care needs to be taken to preserve footprints in blood so that they are not destroyed by people walking on top of them.

Blood can also be used for DNA profiling, which can provide extremely strong or even conclusive evidence in serious offences like murder, woundings and sexual assaults. A bloodstain the size of a 10p piece is enough to provide a DNA profile of a suspect. Fragments of flesh or pieces of skin can also be used.

Blood 'grouping' on the other hand can help scientists to say that a sample of blood could have come from a certain person, but that it definitely could not have come from someone else. It can, therefore, only ever be very strong corroborative evidence, but not conclusive.

Footwear marks, often called foorprints, even if not visible to the human eye, can be found at most crime scenes. Providing that they are not destroyed during the seconds or minutes immediately following an incident they can be of very high evidential value as they can often provide definite information or conclusions. Boot or shoe prints can be recovered from almost any surface if it is not disturbed, and can even identify each shoe print absolutely, linking suspects to victims and scenes, or even identifying suspects from scratch.

As the undersoles of shoes and boots become unevenly worn the surface builds up its own unique print. Footprints in blood on a carpet or prints in mud outside should be covered to preserve them until the arrival of police.

It is a sad fact of life that each year more firearms incidents are reported to the police. Many of those incidents occur on or near to licensed premises, often in relation to robberies or the misuse and illegal sale of drugs.

Where firearms have been discharged during a shooting incident the forensic examination of bullets, cartridges, shotgun wadding and even the firearm itself if present can lead to the successful prosecution of offenders.

Following such an incident it is important that a wide area is sealed off for the police so that evidence is not lost or damaged.

If firearms are found at the premises, even if not actually fired, the safety of the staff and customers must be the first priority. Nobody should be allowed to walk in front of the muzzle of the weapon until it has been deemed as safe by a qualified firearms specialist from the police. It should not be moved if at all possible, and certainly should not be handled unnecessarily in case it is unsafe and accidentally discharges. The possibility of fingerprint evidence must also be considered, so it is normally better just to leave the weapon where it is found, and for a door supervisor just to guard it until it can be checked and recovered by the police.

In any situation where supervisors are dealing with blood or other body fluids they should wear rubber gloves to protect themselves from possible infection.

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Health & Safety

In 1974 an important piece of legislation was brought into protect both the general public and people at work. The main purpose of the Act is to encourage good standards of health and safety and to prevent people coming to harm at work. It makes health and safety an essential part of work, not an option. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, at any premises where people work, everyone has a legal duty to uphold certain standards of health, safety and welfare.

At licensed premises this includes :-

  • Employers
  • Employees
  • The self-employed
  • Suppliers
  • Those who control premises

At work people's actions or behaviour can have a bad effect upon their own health and safety, and that of others. An employer or an employee may do, or not do, something that could result in a person having an accident.

It is important that door supervisors working at licensed premises know about the Act, and put it into practice when carrying out their normal duties. It can make the difference between working in a safe environment, and a dangerous one. Door supervisors, working in partnership with the management of the premises, can help protect themselves and their customers from accidents and injury.

The main purposes of the Act are to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all staff on the premises, to protect the general public against risks, and where applicable to control the possession, storage and use of certain dangerous substances.

It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that people are adequately supervised at work, and that they are trained so that they understand how to do their jobs and why they need to follow certain procedures. Employers must ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees so far as is reasonably practicable by providing :-

  1. An assessment of any risks to workers' health and safety;
  2. Safe equipment and working methods;
  3. Safe arrangements for the use, handling, storage and transport of all articles and substances;
  4. Information, instruction, training and supervision to help ensure your health and safety at work;
  5. Safe entrances and exits to and from the workplace;
  6. A safe working environment;
  7. A written health and safety policy, which should be displayed for all employees;
  8. A safety committee when required;
  9. Protective clothing, equipment and safety devices when necessary at no charge.

Employers must also ensure that their activities do not endanger members of the public visiting the premises, as they may be held responsible for any breaches of health and safety legislation.

Door supervisors, as employees, also have certain responsibilities under the Act. They have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety when working, and to ensure that their own acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other employees or members of the public. They should also co-operate with their employer to help promote matters of health and safety. Specific instructions include :-

  1. Following health and safety policies provided by the employer, and keeping up to date with any revisions, new requirements or regulations;
  2. Practicing safe working habits and obeying all safety rules;
  3. Using protective equipment and clothing properly, reporting any damage found;
  4. Being aware of emergency procedures and ensuring that they are followed when necessary. This includes completing the necessary fire training and knowing where alarms, fire-fighting equipment and exits are.

Your supervisor or manager must be promptly notified of any misuse of fire-fighting equipment; any such equipment which is missing; any vandalised or missing signs, notices or instructions; any blocked emergency exits or escape routes; and any damaged, misused or poorly maintained protective equipment. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act all members of staff, as well as members of the public, have a duty not to interfere with or misuse anything provided for health, safety or welfare.

Under civil law employers have a duty to their employees to provide a reasonable standard of care. If a person is injured at work and feels it is the employer's fault, then the employee can take the employer to court and sue for damages.

Criminal Law, on the other hand, is set by Parliament. If a person breaks the law they can be punished. In the area of health and safety it is the Health and Safety Executive Inspectors and local authority Environmental Health Officers who can prosecute companies and individuals who break health and safety laws. These inspectors have wide powers of entry and inspection under the Act to carry out their duties. If breaches of the regulations are found, then the inspectors can issue important notices requiring that the fault be put right within a certain period, or prohibition notices in more serious cases where a potentially dangerous activity can be stopped until such times as it is made safe.

Inspectors can prosecute offenders who do not meet with the requirements of the Act, with persons found guilty facing fines, imprisonment or even both. Further penalties can be imposed for further violations that continue after conviction. They also have powers to seize, render harmless, or destroy any articles or substances that could cause immediate danger of significant personal injury to workers or others.

The main purpose of the Health and Safety at Work Act, however, is to promote safety awareness. Enforcement officers spend a lot of their time giving advice and guidance on improving workplace health and safety, as it is obviously far better to prevent accidents than to prosecute people after they have happened.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require every employer to carry out a risk assessment of the premises. This enables him to identify all workplace hazards, assess the risks and to take appropriate steps to eliminate or reduce risks of accidents or injuries. A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm, and the risk is how likely it is that a hazard will actually cause harm.

All potential risks to the health and safety of door supervisors, other members of staff and customers must be rectified on the spot where possible, or reported promptly to a supervisor or manager. This way everyone will be protected within the working environment, and accidents and injuries can be avoided.

Door supervisors need to take particular care during their various duties to prevent the risk of contracting either Hepatitis B or the HIV virus. Infection is most likely to occur during searching an infected person, by coming into contact with dirty needles, whilst administering first aid, or whilst handling violent or disorderly people. Having said that, there have been no recorded cases to date of occupational transmission of the HIV virus.

HIV ( Human Immunodeficiency Virus ) attacks certain white blood cells which protect the body from infection. It can also attack certain cells in the nervous system.

AIDS ( Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ) often follows HIV, although scientists still cannot say for definite that someone who is HIV positive will inevitably develop AIDS. Some people with AIDS have developed specific infections and cancers that occur because the body's immune system has been damaged. One of the ways that people catch the virus is through receiving blood from an infected person into their own bloodstream.

Hepatitis B can be transmitted in the same way but is much more infectious that HIV. It has also been found in virtually all body secretions and excretions in infectious quantities. Hepatitis causes a serious inflammation of the liver and although is much more infectious than HIV, there is a vaccination available through your own doctor to prevent infection, and there is a treatment for people who become infected. It is strongly recommended that all door supervisors get themselves vaccinated against this disease at the earliest opportunity.


Always wear disposable plastic, latex or vinyl gloves whenever you have to come into contact with another person's blood or other body fluids.

Cover any cuts, grazes or abrasions you have with a waterproof plaster or dressing whilst at work.

Do not deal with blood, vomit, excreta or other body fluids if you are suffering from weeping eczema, severely chapped hands or any other complaint leaving open lesions on the skin.

Wash your hands at the earliest opportunity after contact with another person's blood or other body fluids whether you were wearing protective gloves or not. Hot soapy water should be used. If your eyes have been splashed, flush with lots of clean cold water.

When washing up spillages of blood or vomit, use a solution of 1:10 bleach/water to clean the affected surface. When the surface is dry it should be washed down again with hot soapy water.

Clothing which has been contaminated with blood or other body fluids should be left for one minute in a very hot rinse, or rinsed under hot running water then left to dry in the air. Another method of drying the affected area would be to use a hair dryer if one was available as the heat would help to ensure that any virus present was destroyed.

When attempting mouth to mouth resuscitation during emergency first aid procedure, an approved face shield should be used if available. If not, then covering the casualty's mouth with a handkerchief or something similar would help prevent you from contracting any infectious diseases.

When searching customers at the point of entry, be especially aware of the possibility of customers having dirty unguarded needles in their possession. Where possible ask customers to empty their own pockets out onto a table, turning their pocket linings inside out for inspection.

Any sharp or pointed articles seized from customers should be stored safely until they can be disposed of in the appropriate manner. Needles should be handled as little as possible. Always wash your hands well using soap and water after handling anything related to the misuse of drugs.

If you, any of your colleagues or your employer have any questions with regards to health and safety issues, you can get up to date advice from :-

The Health and Safety Executive
Tel:- 0845 345 0055

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Attending Court

If someone is charged by the police with a criminal offence, then the matter will normally proceed to a hearing at either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. The magistrates or the jury in those proceedings will, after hearing all of the evidence from witnesses from both sides, decide on the guilt or innocence of the person on trial.

If a door supervisor was involved in the incident in any way, and made a formal written statement to the police, then he will most likely be called to give his written evidence orally during those court proceedings.

Most cases are sent to the Magistrates Court first of all. Some cases, those deemed less serious, can be heard and decided upon in that court. More serious cases, however, may be passed on to the Crown Court which generally deals with the more serious crimes, and so may hand out heavier sentences.

The bench of a Magistrates Court will normally comprise of between one and seven magistrates, who act as both judge and jury. Stipendiary magistrates are experienced barristers or solicitors, whereas Justices of the Peace are ordinary members of the local community who generally have no formal legal qualifications. Deciding the case in a magistrate's court will be either a lone stipendiary magistrate or a bench of two or more Justices of the Peace who have been appointed by the Crown. Their job is to decide whether or not the case in question is proved, and to impose sentences where appropriate. They do this after receiving legal advice from a full-time magistrate's clerk, who is a legally qualified person.

Magistrates should be referred to as either "Your Worship" or "Your Worships".

Crown Court cases are generally held before a judge and jury. The jury consists of twelve ordinary members of the public who will have been selected for jury service from the electoral register. It is their job to decide on the guilt or innocence of the accused person, and they do this after listening to and evaluating all of the facts in the case, and having been legally advised by the judge. If the person is found guilty of the offence for which he is on trial then the judge imposes the sentence he or she feels appropriate.

High Court judges should be referred to as "My Lord" or "My Lady", whereas circuit judges and

recorders in Crown Courts are referred to as "Your Honour".

The basic function of a court is to determine whether an offence has been committed, and whether the defendant committed it.

To do this the prosecution has to present factual evidence to the court relating to the offence and the accused. It does this by evaluating the written statements that have been taken by the police during the course of the investigation, and calling certain witnesses to give their evidence to the court to assist it in the decision-making process.

The defence, who represent the accused person, has to present factual evidence to the court to show that the defendant did not commit the offence, or that no offence was actually committed.

All prosecutions are now conducted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), an independent authority which prosecutes offenders in the name of the Crown. Their job is to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, and whether or not a prosecution would be in the public interest. Although the CPS does not act directly on behalf of the victims in the case, it is supposed to consider their interests when deciding on how cases should be handled.

If you are required to give evidence at court you will be informed of the place, date and time in advance. Ensure that you arrive at the court in plenty of time, and tell the court staff that you are there. The CPS representative or the police officer in charge of the case may wish to speak to you before the case, and you will probably want to have another look at a copy of your original statement before you are called into court.

You are allowed to sit at the back of the court to watch other cases before yours, and to familiarise yourself with the layout and the proceedings, but you must leave the court and wait outside as soon as the case in which you are a witness begins.

All that you as a witness are required to do is to give your evidence as clearly and concisely as possible. You are there to help the court to reach a decision on the basis of the evidence put before it. You just have to explain what you have seen, heard and done, and to do so honestly and impartially.

Door supervisors are not professional witnesses and are not expected to demonstrate any special court skills. The court just wants to hear the true facts.

When you are called into court to give your evidence you will be shown into the witness box by the court usher. You will then be sworn in as a witness by taking either the oath or the affirmation. The oath is taken by holding the bible in your raised right hand and swearing, "I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth".

If you do not accept the bible as binding on your conscience, you may affirm that you will tell the truth instead. You do this by saying, "I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth".

You will then be asked to confirm your name, age and occupation, and you will then be asked questions relating to your evidence.

The credibility of a door supervisor's evidence, and even the final outcome of the case, can be affected by the way in which he conducts himself in the witness box. His appearance, demeanor and manner can all help or hinder how he comes across to the magistrates or the jury, and therefore can affect how his evidence is received.

Supervisors should appear smartly dressed and clean to make a good impression. It shows a level of professionalism, and respect to the court.

They should speak calmly, confidently and clearly whilst giving evidence, and try to address the magistrates or the judge with the appropriate terms. Replies to questions should be given in a pleasant, courteous and helpful manner. Stand up straight and smartly when in the witness box, as this creates a far more professional impression than slouching or leaning against the box.

In some courts the clerk has to write down everything that a witness says, so try to speak slightly slower and clearer than usual. You do not have to use any legal terms or special phrases when giving your evidence, just give the evidence as you see it. Slang or swear words should not be used unless you are quoting something that somebody else has actually said. You should try to be yourself as much as possible, whilst presenting a professional attitude to the proceedings.

You should not give opinion in your evidence unless you are specifically asked to do so. Stick to the facts of the events as they happened.

If you have made a mistake whilst giving your evidence you should say so at the earliest opportunity. It is quite stressful being cross-examined about something you have said, so people are allowed to make mistakes. If you have said something wrong, or omitted to mention an important point, or are unsure about something - say so. If, on the other hand, the defence tries to say that you are lying about a particular part of your evidence, or that you are mistaken in what you saw or heard, then do not yield but make your position clear to the court in a firm but courteous way.

You will usually have had a chance to read over your original statement prior to being called into the courtroom to give your evidence. Further to that statement, though, you may also have made notes in your notebook or in a log-book at the time of the incident which may be relevant to the proceedings.

These notes may be used as you give your evidence, to give specific times or details of what someone said, provided that permission is given by the court first. They will normally only be allowed if they were made at the time of or soon after the incident.

When using such notes in conjunction with your statement you should only refer to them for specific points. You will not necessarily be expected to read through them all in court. The court would much rather hear you explain your evidence in normal, everyday language.

The examination-in-chief is where, having taken the oath or affirmation, the witness gives his initial version of the events as asked by the prosecutor. Once this is concluded the defence gets its turn to ask the same witness a series of questions. It is here that the defence cross-examines you on the evidence that you have already given to the court. The defence will be working from the accused's version of what happened, and will try to test your evidence, which may well conflict with what the accused has told him.

As you are cross-examined about your evidence you must not be led into an argument. The defence may attack your powers of observation, hearing or memory, or may even call you a liar. If you remain calm and do not lose your temper you should be able to effectively answer any questions that are put to you. Be firm but courteous.

You should listen to the questions carefully and think about the answer before giving it. If you do not fully understand what is being asked say so, and the question will be put to you in another way. Where appropriate answer questions with a simple 'Yes', 'No' or 'I don't know'. Generally speaking the shorter the answer you give the better.

Lastly, do not be rushed into an answer. Think about what is being asked, think of your answer and then give it.

When the cross-examination is over you should remain in the witness box. The prosecution may wish to re-examine certain points in your evidence for the court, or to explain any ambiguities. Once the magistrate tells you that you can leave the witness box you can either leave the court altogether, or sit at the back of the court and listen to the rest of the case.

If you are the actual victim in the case, such as if you are assaulted by a drunken aggressive customer who is subsequently charged with the assault against you, then you may be able to get compensation in a number of different ways:-

  • compensation order against the offender
  • civil action against the offender
  • compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme

If someone is caught and convicted of a criminal offence the court may order the offender to pay the victim compensation for any injury, loss or damage that they have suffered as a direct result of the crime. You cannot apply for this yourself, so it is important that you tell the police, who in turn will inform the CPS that you want to receive compensation. if the accused is found guilty.

You should give them accurate details of your losses or expenses, with documentary evidence (receipts etc). You can be paid compensation for personal injury; losses because of theft of, or damage to, property; losses because of fraud; loss of earnings while off work; medical expenses; travelling expenses; pain and suffering.

It is up to the court to consider the question of compensation in every appropriate case, and to decide whether to order the offender to pay compensation to the victim, and if so how much. The court has to take into account the offender's financial circumstances and ability to pay, so if such an order is made it will not necessarily be for the full amount of your loss.

No matter what the result of the criminal court case, you may still be able to sue the offender for damages in a civil court. You can enquire about how to do this through a solicitor, or by contacting your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you have been injured because of a crime of violence you can apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. It does not matter whether the offender has been caught, but there are other rules that will determine whether or not you receive compensation. You can find out more from the leaflet "Victims of Crimes of Violence, a guide to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme" which is available from the police, Victim Support schemes, your local Citizens Advice Bureau. You can find out more about the scheme itself and obtain an application form by writing to:-

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
Tay House
300 Bath Street
G2 4JR
Tel:- 0141 331 2726
Fax:- 0141 331 2287

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Point of Entry

The first contact that potential customers have with a pub or night-club is at the point of entry. It is the first 'point of sale', and the doorstaff are the first members of the venue's staff that they will meet.

It is important, therefore, that all members of the door team display a professional appearance and attitude at all times. It is here that the door supervisors get the chance to improve the image of the profession in the eyes of the public, or to reinforce the bad reputation that some doormen have had for a long time. The way that a customer is treated at this point can have a significant impact on his or her perceptions of the venue.

It is at the point of entry, the entrance, that door supervisors are required to use their judgement fairly and effectively whilst enforcing both the law and the venue's policies, and to use effective communication skills when dealing with members of the public.

A door supervisor's main tasks here are the correct selection of customers for the venue, and keeping undesirables out. Only by this careful selection can the right crowd be attracted, and problems inside be kept to a minimum.

Proper control at the point of entry is important to:-

  • meet and greet customers in a courteous and professional manner
  • safely control the entry of customers
  • monitor the numbers of customers being allowed in
  • control and monitor the queue
  • search for weapons, drugs and other unwanted items
  • deny access to unwelcome or unsuitable people

If door supervisors can control the point of entry effectively it will help to ensure the safe and swift entry of decent customers, at the same time enhancing the safety of the public as well as the other members of staff inside the premises.

It is important, as mentioned earlier, that door supervisors portray the right image here. For example, they should not drink alcohol whilst working or immediately prior to reporting for work, and should not smoke in front of members of the public. They should be clean and well presented, and should not wear any unnecessary jewellery like rings, bracelets or earrings whilst on duty. Door supervisors are becoming a much more professional group of people than they were just a few years ago, and the public now expects a different attitude from them. The large, thuggish 'bouncer' is very much out of fashion today, and customers now demand a pleasant, professional, non-aggressive approach.

When a door supervisor is at the door of a pub or night-club he should stand in a relaxed, professional stance. He should smile when speaking to customers and talk in a calm but confident manner, displaying a welcoming, open attitude. Standing to the side of the doorway, or holding the door open when a customer approaches makes for a much better reception than being met by a doorway totally blocked by a doorman.

Talking to customers on the way in also gives the door team the chance to appraise their general attitude.

Even a brief conversation can help you to judge whether customers are old enough to be allowed in, whether they are suitably dressed, whether they are under the influence of excessive drink or drugs, and just to assess their attitude and behaviour generally.

Refusing entry to unsuitable people is a necessary part of a door supervisor's job. Acting on the licensee's behalf a door supervisor has the right to refuse entry to anyone who is drunk, for example, or anyone whose presence on the premises would subject the licensee to a penalty under law. Each venue will have its own set of rules and conditions of entry. In fairness to customers, and to help the door supervisors working at the entrance, a notice should be displayed outside the premises explaining what those rules and conditions are. This helps potential customers to assess whether they will be allowed in to the premises before joining the queue, and shows the grounds on which people are likely to be refused entry, showing that it is not just a decision made by a particular door supervisor at the time.

When refusing entry to customers it is important that it be done in a polite and professional way, fully explaining the reasons for the refusal.

Admission may and should be refused for the following reasons:-

  • the venue is already full (fire precautions)
  • the customer is under the influence of drink or drugs
  • he is under age
  • he does not comply with the dress-code for that evening
  • he either cannot or will not pay the entry fee
  • he refuses to be searched
  • he is a known trouble-maker, is banned from using the premises or is subject to a court exclusion order
  • his attitude is such that his admission would spoil other people's enjoyment
  • his admission would render the licensee to prosecution
  • any other breach of reasonable conditions of entry

Some people will insist on arguing with the door staff if they are refused entry, particularly if they are drunk. The reasons for the refusal should be patiently and politely re-explained, but door supervisors do have the right to refuse entry to potential customers for the reasons given, and should certainly not back down just because someone argues with them. Sometimes it may be suitable to call the manager to further explain the situation to them, and if they still refuse to go away or continue to insist on being allowed in, then the police can be called to move them away from the entrance. Most people when informed that the police will be called will move away.

If a queue forms outside the venue as large numbers of people wait to get in, then the queue itself should be monitored. Walking along the length of the queue allows the door team to talk to customers prior to entry, again allowing them to assess the attitude of the crowd and individuals in it.

Customers sometimes get upset and frustrated waiting for a long time in a queue, especially if it is cold or raining and they are not under cover. Talking to the queue and explaining the reasons for delays can alleviate the tension. If at this stage it is explained to someone that their style of dress is unsuitable for the evening, or that they have had too much to drink, they are more likely to accept the policy and their refusal when they first join the queue, than if they are turned away at the entrance having been stood patiently in the queue for half an hour.

Queue-jumping is another aspect which needs to be supervised. People can get very upset if other customers are seen to push in while they wait their turn. If a membership scheme is in operation at the club whereby members who have paid a fee are entitled to immediate entry, then this again should be shown on the conditions notice, so that non-members fully understand why some people are getting in ahead of them. This again helps the door team, showing that they are not exercising biased judgements, and may even help boost membership.

Where a particular venue has a policy of reduced entrance fee before a specific time, then at that time one of the door supervisors should mark the queue, preventing disputes at the door regarding what time a particular person arrived there. The correct supervision of a queue outside licensed premises will ensure the safe and efficient entry for the customers, and help prevent disputes with doorstaff at the entrance.

Door supervisors must ensure that they are fully conversant with the conditions of entry and policies of the venue, and must enforce them fairly, consistently and firmly. Only then will the premises get the crowd it wants to attract, while keeping incidents inside the premises to a minimum.

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Use of Force

The main reason for the bad reputation that some doormen have, is the excessive force that they use in the execution of their duties. By virtue of the demands of the job, door supervisors tend to be well-built and physically fit, and unless they use the necessary constraints when dealing with unruly customers, they may find themselves liable to an assault charge.

Professional door supervisors must learn to carry out their duties without hurting the very customers they are hired to protect. Indeed, the results from some of the aforementioned training schemes run by the police and local authorities have shown a direct link between proper training and sharp reductions in the numbers of allegations of assault by doorstaff on members of the public in those areas.

Door supervisors do occasionally need to use force to carry out their duties, and under certain circumstances are legally empowered to do so. The law gives certain situations when members of the public are allowed to use force on others, and this section aims to explain those.

The authority for door supervisors to use force when necessary can be found in the following parts of the law.

COMMON LAW - The rules of self-defence.
If any person has an honestly held belief that he or another is in imminent danger, then he may use such force as is reasonable and necessary to avert that danger.

Furthermore, a person about to be attacked does not have to wait for his assailant to strike the first blow. Circumstances may justify a pre-emptive strike.

This basically means that if a door supervisor, whilst carrying out his duties, feels that he or someone else is about to be hurt, then he is allowed to use force to protect himself or that other person. If, for example, you come across a man physically attacking another man on the dance-floor, then the law allows you to use force to stop the attack. If the assailant then turns on you and assaults or tries to assault you, then you may use force to protect yourself.

In a criminal case in 1988 it was said that the common law has always recognised the right of a person to protect himself from attack and to act in the defence of others, and if necessary to inflict violence on another in so doing. Provided that no more force is used than is reasonable to repel the attack, such force is not unlawful and no crime is committed.

In another case in 1995 it was said that the necessity of using force was a question for the subjectivity of the defendant, whereas the degree of force was more objectively considered by the courts. This means that door supervisors have to decide themselves if and when to use force, whereas ultimately a court may have to decide whether the amount of force used was reasonable or not.

COMMON LAW - Preventing a Breach of Peace and Saving Life.
Any person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances to prevent a breach of the peace or to save life. (See 'breach of the peace' in Arrest chapter)

In another case in 1981 it was said that in relation to stopping a breach of the peace every citizen in whose presence a breach of the peace is being, or reasonably appears to be about to be committed, has the right to take reasonable steps to make the person who is breaking or threatening to break the peace refrain from doing so. These steps may include the use of reasonable force. Once again, though, what force is reasonable will depend on the facts of the particular situation.

You are also allowed to use force to save someone's life. If, for example, an assailant is running at another man with a knife, then you would obviously be entitled to use force to stop the assailant from killing the other man.

This act gives everyone, including door supervisors, the authority to use "such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting (or assisting in) the lawful arrest of offenders, suspected offenders or persons unlawfully at large."

The 'prevention of crime' element applies to any crime where the preventative use of force is reasonably required. This would obviously include protecting property from damage or theft, and protecting people from physical injury.

This piece of legislation again allows you to use force to stop a crime from being committed, such as breaking up a fight (assault) or stopping someone from smashing a window (criminal damage), and also allows you to use force if needed to arrest someone and to stop them from running away before the police arrive.

It is important to remember that the wording of this Act refers to 'such force as is reasonable in the circumstances', and previous criminal cases have pointed out that where force is used in these situations the amount of force used must be judged according to the particular circumstances. It is made very clear, however, that the excessive use of force is not allowed.

These three parts of common and statute law use the words 'reasonable' and 'necessary' when describing how much force can be used in those circumstances, and door supervisors need to know what these words mean.

What constitutes 'reasonable' is not always easy to define. It will depend on the particular circumstances, and careful thought will need to be given when door supervisors assess the seriousness of the threat. It would not, for example, be reasonable to punch someone who merely verbally abuses you. The use of physical force should only be considered when there is a real possibility of physical harm to yourself or to someone else, and even then the amount of force used should be appropriate and reasonable to the situation.

The test of whether the use of force in any given circumstances is reasonable or not is an objective one, and is assessed on the facts as the person concerned believed them to be at the time. A door supervisor claiming self-defence as an excuse for the use of force must be able to show that he did not want to fight, and providing that no more force was used than was reasonable to repel the attack, then the use of such force is not unlawful and no criminal offence is committed. If, on the other hand, a supervisor has already ejected a customer from the premises but continues to use force on him to 'teach him a lesson' or to 'stop him coming back again', then that extra and unnecessary use of force would not be seen as 'reasonable', and would make the supervisor liable to criminal proceedings for assault.

Door supervisors need to ensure that they use graduated and appropriate levels of force in response to the varying levels of aggression and violence used against them.

The law is quite clear on the term 'necessary' with regards to the use of force, and there are many precedents in old cases that explain it. Necessary force is not what is deemed necessary by someone considering the facts from a safe and comfortable place well after the events, but what the person carrying out the acts in question considered necessary at the time. As mentioned earlier, only the person using the force can say whether and why he thought it necessary to use the force at the time, whereas a court may have to ultimately decide whether the amount of force used was reasonable or not.

The law supports the pre-emptive use of force only where it is reasonable and necessary. The pre-emptive use of force as a means of physical defence is proper in the right circumstances, and it has already been used as a defence in court. The courts have in the past also commented that for a person to wait to be hurt before doing something is no defence at all. Defence is all about not being hurt. Provided that no more force than is reasonable is used to repel an attack, then such force is not unlawful.

If someone was running at you with a broken bottle in an attempt to assault you, for example, then you would not need to wait for the person to strike you first before you hit him. In those circumstances it would certainly be reasonable to strike that person before he had a chance to hurt you with the bottle.

If door supervisors consider that every time they use force against another person that they may well have to justify their actions, then they should be able to act reasonably in any given situation. If, however, they are reckless as to how much force they use, or deliberately use excessive force, then they will have to answer to the police and possibly even to a court.

The questions that are likely to be asked about any use of force are:-

  1. Was there was a need to use the force ?
  2. Was the amount of force used was reasonable or not ?
  3. What was the extent of the injuries compared to the amount of resistance given ?
  4. What was the size and build of the injured party compared to the door supervisor ?
  5. Were any weapons used or threatened by the other party ?
  6. At what stage did the door supervisor stop using the force ?
  7. Was the force applied in good faith or in a malicious way ?

Door supervisors are allowed under the rules of trespass to physically eject customers from the premises when all other methods of persuasion have failed, and they are obviously allowed to protect themselves if they are attacked. What the law does not allow is the excessive use of force, or causing unnecessary or malicious injuries to any person.

You must always be able to justify your actions, and if you remember this during every potential confrontation with a customer, then you should prove to be effective within the security function without getting arrested into the bargain.

Under no circumstances may anyone employed on security duties carry any type of weapon. In the past doormen have been known to carry knuckle-dusters, coshes, iron bars and even baseball bats to assist them with violent confrontations. In fact, even the large 8-cell torches that some doormen carry may be classed as offensive weapons if used during an ejection or some other disturbance.

As a door supervisor you will occasionally become involved in aggressive, frightening and potentially dangerous situations. You will sometimes have to make split-second decisions with regards to those situations, decisions that could have serious implications for members of the public, fellow members of staff and for yourself. Particularly when deciding whether to use force or not, and then how much force to use, door supervisors will have to quickly assess situations, contemplate the risks, consider the consequences, and then act.

When deciding on suitable degrees of force to be use in different circumstances, the police use something called the 'conflict resolution model'. This system was devised as a set of guidelines to indicate how much force can be used in certain circumstances, and can also be used to help justify actions after the event.

The column on the left lists the varying degrees of offender/customer behaviour, ranging from compliance when everything is running nicely, up to serious or aggravated resistance where there is a serious risk of serious harm or even death. The right-hand column shows the corresponding levels of response. The list in the centre shows what are called impact factors, facts within the circumstances which affect how the door supervisor decides to act.

The police model has been adapted to show suitable actions to be taken by door supervisors when dealing with members of the public. The decision as to how much force can be justifiably used in any situation must be made taking into account the other person's behaviour, and any relevant impact factors.

Compliance (no resistance) Sex/age/size/strength Door supervisor presence (observing, passive control)
Verbal resistance (refusing to co-operate, swearing, threatening) Skills/knowledge Tactical communications (verbal and non-verbal)
Passive resistance (refusing to move/leave) Alcohol/drugs/mental impairment Primary control skills (carrying out, low level of force)
Active resistance (pulling or pushing away, struggling) Injury/exhaustion/disadvantage Secondary control skills (increase in force, arm-locks and holds etc)
Assaultive/aggressive resistance (fighting, punching, kicking) Numbers/weapons/danger Defensive tactics (blocks, strikes and takedowns)
Serious/life threatening resistance (armed or serious attack, risk of serious harm or death) Serious imminent danger Serious or deadly use of force (action likely to or could cause serious harm or even death)

It is important that for their own protection door supervisors make some form of written record every time they have to resort to the use of force. In the chapter 'Records' there is a list of the most relevant points to note when recording incidents where force has been used by a door supervisor during the course of his duties.


Only use force when absolutely necessary
Only use such force as is reasonable and necessary
Never use weapons
Ensure you can justify your actions
Record your actions and inform the management

It is important that door supervisors exercise maximum self-control when dealing with potentially violent situations, and they need to ensure that they only apply levels of force appropriate to the circumstances. Any use of force used by a door supervisor will be judged against the levels of resistance or violence offered towards him. Varying levels of aggression and violence require varying responses, which must be proportionate to the circumstances, ensuring that that the door supervisor's actions are always seen as reasonable.

While there are no national guidelines on restraints or holds that door supervisors should use, there are two important considerations to be taken into account when door supervisors decide to exercise their right to use force on a member of the public.

The use of neck restraints or holds is strongly discouraged, because of the significant inherent dangers in using them. There is a very real danger of causing someone serious or even fatal injuries when neck holds are applied, and door supervisors must be aware of the serious risks of using them on customers when either lawfully ejecting them from premises, or arresting them for an offence.

Although stabilising a violent person's head via the neck may seem an effective way of controlling them, we must remember that the neck contains the throat, the windpipe and the voice box, all of which are easy to damage. If steady or heavy pressure is applied to these areas, the person's ability to breath will be restricted. A strong neck hold could also crush the windpipe or rupture the voice box. A blockage in the windpipe can quickly lead to death. Furthermore, the carotid arteries run down either side of the neck from the back of the ears, and any sudden or steady pressure here could slow down the flow of blood to the brain, seriously reducing the amount of oxygen that can get through.

Applying pressure to the front of someone's neck by using a hold can also be extremely painful as well as restricting breathing, which can cause the person to struggle even more violently, which is not what we are trying to achieve. If someone starts to struggle even more, then the tendency is to tighten the hold on him, which could cause serious harm or may even have fatal consequences.

A door supervisor engaged in a violent struggle may find it difficult to avoid applying some form of pressure on a person's neck, but there are serious risks involved, and such pressure on or around the neck should be avoided if at all possible. Although serious steps can be taken in serious situations, neck holds of any sort should only be used as a very last resort.

Door supervisors also need to know about a fairly new phenomenon known as positional asphyxia. This is basically when someone stops breathing because of the position he has been physically forced into, usually when being restrained during a non-compliant arrest situation. It is when his ability to inhale and exhale are impaired, and he cannot move out of that position to stop the situation.

This can be caused when a person is lying face down with pressure on top of him, or when his head is forced down putting pressure on his windpipe and restricting his breathing. When a person is physically held in this position, and cannot breath properly, death may occur in just a few minutes.

The main factors that can contribute to this condition include complete or partial airway restriction, the inability to escape the position, alcohol or drugs intoxication, obesity, restraints (handcuffs), stress and severe fatigue.

The most common signs and symptoms of the condition include being physically held down and unable to move, pressure being applied to their back when lying face-down, when their face turns blue due to lack of oxygen, gurgling or gasping sounds, a sudden change in behaviour from violent to subdued, panic or when the persons tells you cannot breathe. If any of these signs occur you should immediately change the position of the person to relieve the situation (by sitting them up or getting them up to the kneeling position), and perform first aid if it is required.

Positional asphyxia can result in death within a fairly short period of time, and so door supervisors must make themselves aware of the reasons, signs and symptoms of the condition, and ensure that they act carefully and responsibly in violent situations. Such awareness, coupled with thoughtful actions, should reduce the chances of the condition affecting people they deal with.

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Door supervisors working at licensed premises have no legal or statutory powers to search any person. Under no circumstances can they forcibly search anyone. The manager or licensee of the premises can, however, make it a 'condition of entry' that people wishing to enter consent to being searched by the door team prior to being allowed in. This is usually done to prevent items that are not allowed onto the premises from being brought in, as a method of protecting the venue, its staff and customers.

Such items would include :-

  • Illegal drugs
  • Offensive weapons
  • Other unauthorised items (ie incendiary devices, fireworks, laser pens, paint-sprays, alcohol)

Preventing such items from being brought into the premises reduces the chances of serious harm to customers and staff, and reduces the likelihood of the licensee being prosecuted.

A condition of entry simply means that customers may be allowed to enter the pub or club on the condition that they allow the door staff to search them. If they refuse to consent to such a search, then they may be and should be refused entry.

If the licensee or manager authorises such a condition, then it is good practice to display a sign outside the premises explaining this to all potential customers. Displaying such a notice warns customers that the venue has a search policy, so preventing most from trying to bring unauthorised items in, and also shows that the search policy is a management decision, and not just something devised by the door staff themselves. Such signs should explain that:-

  • Customers are liable to be searched prior to entry
  • Entry is conditional on customers consenting to a search
  • Customers refusing to be searched will be refused entry
  • Searches are for illegal drugs, weapons and other unauthorised items
  • The police will automatically be called if customers are found with such items

How far each customer is searched is again up to the management of the premises, and the individual door supervisor's discretion at the time. If a club has a particular problem with drugs abuse, then the searches will need to be fairly thorough as small amounts of controlled substances can be easily hidden. If another club has a reputation for fights and violent disorder, then the emphasis on the searching is more likely to be for offensive weapons such as knives, knuckle-dusters and coshes. Full strip-searches should not be carried out by door staff, however.

Permission must always be obtained from the customer prior to a search, because as we have already mentioned you have no legal or statutory powers granting you authority to search any person without their express consent. So before you consider searching a customer at the point of entry you must first of all explain that it is the policy of the venue that customers allow themselves to be searched by the doorstaff. Tell them what you will be searching for, ie drugs, weapons and any other items not suitable to be taken into the premises, and ask them if they mind you searching them. Most customers will quite happily give their consent, as they realise that attempts are being made to make the premises as safe as is reasonably possible for them to enjoy themselves in. If necessary take time to fully explain the reasons for the search to them in a clear and concise way. If the customer indicates that he does not wish to be searched before he enters the pub or club, you should then indicate to the notice that explains that search procedures are a condition of entry, and inform him that if he does not consent to being searched then he will be refused admission to the premises. If he still refuses to be searched then he should be politely but firmly turned away.

Door supervisors have no other powers to deal with potential customers who refuse to be searched. If, however, you have strong reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is in possession of either illegal drugs or offensive weapons, then you should note the person's description, watch to see which direction he makes off in, and report the matter to the police. They may then decide to search the area for the person and exercise their own powers of search in the street to find out whether his is in possession of such items.

It is most important that door supervisors actually obtain permission from the person they wish to search beforehand. Searching someone without the necessary consent could result in :-

  • criminal proceedings for assault being taken against the door supervisor
  • civil action ( for compensation ) being taken out against the supervisor and/or the venue
  • a criminal case against a customer found to be in possession of drugs or weapons failing, if the search itself was found to be illegal because consent was not obtained.

As already stated, door supervisors have no automatic legal rights to search any members of the public, and should only normally do so at the point of entry, as a condition of entry. Some premises/managers/companies allow or even ask their door supervisors to search customers once they are inside the premises, normally if they suspect that they have either drugs or weapons in their possession. It is thought by some, however, that door supervisors have no legal authority to do this, even with the consent of the customer. If a door supervisor searches and finds drugs on a customer once they are already inside the premises, and the matter goes to court, there is the possibility that the case may be lost. This is because it might be claimed that the door supervisor had no power to search that person in the first place, particularly if the customer says that he only 'consented' to a search because he was frightened about what might happen if he didn’t. Any items found during an illegal search cannot be tendered as evidence, as they have not been obtained legally. It is recommended, therefore, that door supervisors do not routinely search customers once there are actually inside the venue.

If supervisors suspect or are told by someone else that a customer has either drugs or weapons in their possession whilst they are inside the venue, then the door supervisor should attempt to discreetly observe the customer to gain more evidence. Some venues use plain-clothed security operatives for this very purpose. The management should also be informed, who may decide to call the police. They may attend and decide to exercise their own statutory powers of search on the customer.

If, on the other hand, you have actually personally seen a customer in possession of weapons or what you believe to be controlled drugs inside the premises, then you have the power to arrest them and hand them over to the police for those offences (See ARREST chapter). In these circumstances you will obviously have to keep a strict eye on the person until the police arrive, to prevent them from disposing or using the drugs or the weapons. Alternatively, you could just eject them from the premises.

You cannot, however, trick someone into a search, nor can you bully them into consenting to a search.

For these reasons most venues, security companies and local authorities recommend that searches should only normally be made at the point of entry. You should always, however, be guided by the local policies and procedures on this matter, which should have been devised in consultation with the local police.

Searches should be conducted in a friendly, routine way so as to reduce any feelings of embarrassment that the customer might feel, and must not be seen as an act of discrimination or by way of a particular door supervisor being obstructive. All searches should be carried out in a polite and courteous manner. Some customers may feel intimidated or worried when being searched, whilst others may be used to it. You should talk to customers as you search them, firstly to help make them feel at ease, and secondly it will give you the opportunity to assess their general attitude and may show you whether they have had too much to drink, for example. You should try to carry out the search as quickly and as efficiently as possible, thanking the customer for his assistance afterwards.

Random searches of customers should be carried out at a frequency and in a manner that is likely to enhance the deterrent factor, and to increase the rates of detecting illegal and unauthorised items. The selection of customers to be searched may not be made on racial grounds, or on any other grounds that could be viewed as discriminatory.

It is very important to remember that for your own safety you should only search someone of the same sex as yourself. This is to prevent any malicious allegations being made to police that you have indecently assaulted a customer whilst effecting a search. There is nothing wrong with a male supervisor asking a female customer to empty the contents of her handbag and pockets onto a table so that her property can be checked, but he should not 'pat her down' or otherwise touch her to detect unauthorised items. Many large night clubs now employ door supervisors of both sexes for this very reason.

Special care should also be taken when searching customers for drugs. The possibility of infection from dirty needles is obvious. You can now buy needle-resistant gloves for searching purposes, which are ideal for these situations. When the emphasis on the searching is for weapons, door supervisors may wish to use the slash-proof gloves as protection against knife injuries, or can use hand-held metal detectors that can indicate the presence of both knives and firearms.

How the door team goes about actually searching the customers depends on the type of customers who visit the premises, and on what items they are particularly trying to prevent being brought in. Some night clubs have a policy where every customer is searched prior to entry, whereas others only search odd customers at random, or every 10th customer, for example. Some only search customers who they believe for some reason may be in possession of unauthorised items. Whatever the system for selecting customers for searching is, the same search rules apply. Customers must be informed that the venue has a 'search as a condition of entry' policy, they should be told what items you are searching for, and their permission must be obtained prior to any search commencing.

If it is feasible to do so have an empty table at the search area so that you can ask customers to put the contents of their pockets and bags on it for inspection prior to the outer clothing being searched.

Before you physically touch another person you should ask them :-

  • whether they have anything in their possession that they should not have
  • whether they have anything on them which could injury either themselves or the supervisor
  • whether they have any knives, needles or other sharps in their possession

If a customer indicates that he has an illegal or unauthorised item in his possession then you must not let him put his hands in his pocket to get it for you. At this point it is advisable to obtain the assistance of another supervisor if you are on your own, to act as a witness to your search and for safety reasons. You should then ask the person to keep his hands where you can see them, and to tell you exactly where the item is. Lightly pat or feel the area he has indicated so that you can ascertain where the item is and in which position. Only when you are sure that you can retrieve the item safely should you attempt to do so. As soon as you have taken the item from the customer you should secure it away from him by either passing it to another door supervisor, or by safely placing it out of his reach so that he cannot get at it.

If, on the other hand, the customer says that he has no unauthorised items in his possession, then you can commence the search, still being aware of obvious dangers. Body searches need to be made in a thorough and systematic way in order that nothing is missed. You should devise your own method of searching, and should use the same system every time, so that you do not forget to search particular areas.

A good way to search is to start at the front at the top and to work your way downwards, then moving position to behind the subject to repeat the process.

That the subject's hands are empty and clearly visible throughout the search

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Whenever door supervisors arrest someone for committing an offence, or witness something that they are later asked to provide a statement about, they may ultimately have to give evidence in subsequent court proceedings about what they have done or seen.

The rules of evidence are very strict, so it is important that door supervisors have a clear understanding of them, and should at least know what is acceptable to a court and what is not.

Evidence, in its simplest form, means information that may be presented to a court to decide on the probability of some point in question, and particularly as to how it may determine a person's guilt or innocence.

All court proceedings are governed by the laws of evidence that determine what facts may be proved in order to decide whether the accused is guilty or not, and how and by whom those facts may be proved.

The facts in most criminal cases that need to be proved or disproved by evidence are the identity of the accused, whether or not he committed the offence for which he is on trial, and any necessary knowledge or intent connected to the crime.

Evidence is said to be relevant to court proceedings if its existence tends to show the truth, or otherwise, of a fact which is in issue in those proceedings. All facts admissible in evidence must be relevant to the proceedings, but not all relevant facts may be admissible in evidence due to legal rules.

A fact is admissible when the law allows it to be proved in evidence.


Direct evidence means that of something seen, heard or experienced by the person who relates it. It normally connects the accused directly with the offence in some way.

For example, if a door supervisor says how he saw a man pick up a brick from the street and then throw it at a shop window causing it to smash, then if he relates this to a court it would be direct evidence against the accused.

Circumstantial evidence can be described as presumptive or indirect evidence. Although it does not prove the offence itself it proves other facts which, when added to other evidence, supports an inference or presumption of guilt.

For example, if the supervisor above had seen the man pick up the brick from the street and run out of sight, but then had seconds later heard the sound of glass smashing and then had seen the man reappear without the brick, then this could be given as circumstantial evidence to support any direct evidence from other witnesses who may have seen the man actually smash the window. It is a very common form of evidence from which the facts to be proved are rendered more or less probable.

Evidence is hearsay if it relates to something that a witness has heard another person (not the accused) say about the offence, but that he does not know to be true for himself. That evidence can only be given by the person who experienced it for himself.

Hearsay evidence is very rarely admissible during court proceedings, because it is not the best evidence, it is second-hand. Juries also find it difficult to evaluate hearsay evidence properly, and because it is not given on oath as is direct evidence, its truthfulness and accuracy cannot be tested by cross-examination.

Oral evidence is that given by a witness when he verbally relates to the court what happened. The witness may recount from his first-hand knowledge what he said, saw, heard, tasted, felt, smelt and did at any relevant time.

Documentary evidence includes any drawn, written or printed document in any form which communicates visual or written messages from one person to another. A door supervisor's notebook or the incident-log may be tendered as evidence, or a stolen cheque which has been passed over the bar as payment. The original document itself is primary evidence, and any copy of it is secondary evidence. Such evidence can be presented to the court by a witness, who can explain its relevance orally.

Real evidence can be anything else which is produced as an exhibit to the court by any person who has first-hand knowledge of its existence and relevance to the matter in question. Items such as weapons or drugs found by door supervisors can be real evidence, as can any video recording of an incident filmed by CCTV.

Although the evidence of a single witness, normally the victim, can be sufficient to prove an offence against the accused, there is obviously the risk that an innocent person may be convicted unless the evidence of certain witnesses is confirmed and supported by other evidence. Corroboration is evidence in its own right which backs up other evidence that the accused is guilty of the offence.

Before evidence can be accepted by a court as corroboration it must be admissible in itself, so it must be relevant to the case and acceptable to the court.

In persuance of the defendant's right to a fair trial, evidence that he has a criminal record, is of bad character, or has a tendancy to commit the type of offence for which he stands accused is not permitted, and is deemed inadmissible. Any previous criminal convictions the defendant may have will not be shown to the court until such times as he has been found guilty of the offence for which he is accused. Only in rare, exceptional circumstances is this rule broken.

Witnesses should restrict their evidence to the facts and matters in question. They should not give opinion in their evidence unless specifically requested to do so by the court. Persons with recognised specialist knowledge of a particular subject may be called upon to give their opinion about a set of facts or circumstances, but their evidence is then very much open to challenge.

Under the Perjury Act of 1911, it is a serious arrestable offence for any person who is lawfully sworn as a witness in judicial proceedings to wilfully make any statement material to that proceeding which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true. At crown court anyone found guilty of such an offence may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for up to 7 years.

Anyone who aids, abets, counsels, procures or bribes someone else to commit such an offence shall be liable to be proceeded against as if he were a principle offender.

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A trespass is committed by a person who is improperly on someone else's property without consent.

As mentioned earlier, one of your main tasks as a door supervisor at licensed premises is to maintain good order. During the course of your duties you may well have to ask people to leave the pub or club as a result of their behaviour, and as a last resort may have to physically eject them from the premises if they refuse to leave when asked. This section explains your powers to deal with those types of situations.

Trespass is not normally a criminal offence. It is, however, an act of interference against the lawful occupier of any specific premises, and can be actionable through the civil courts. A 'lawful occupier' is someone who owns, occupies or has control over the property. In the case of pubs and night clubs it means the manager, owner or licensee of the venue, and includes any members of staff acting on their behalf. This obviously includes the door supervisors, whose job it is to protect the premises.

Licensed premises offer what is called an 'open invitation' to members of the public to enter, whether on payment or otherwise, for an evenings entertainment. That invitation, however, may be withdrawn at any time. Door supervisors, acting on behalf of the licensee, have the right in law to refuse admission to anyone whose presence is not welcome. Further to this, customers already on the premises may become trespassers if the invitation to remain is withdrawn and they reuse to leave when asked to.

Door supervisors may ask customers to leave at any stage if they breach any:-

  • criminal laws
  • licensing laws
  • house rules or conditions, or if their behaviour becomes unacceptable.

If a customer's actions start to interfere with the enjoyment of others, then he should be advised accordingly, and should be given the chance to remain if he behaves himself. If he continues to be a nuisance, or does something which is just unacceptable, then he should be asked to leave.

When asking customers to leave the premises you should first ask them to leave and explain why, telling them what rule they have breached or how their behaviour has become unacceptable. If they refuse to leave you should repeat the request, informing them that if they refuse to leave they will either be physically removed by the door staff, or that the police will be called. If they still refuse to go you should offer them one more chance to leave peacefully by saying something like, "Is there anything else I can say to make you leave on your own?". This gives them one more opportunity to change their mind, and is also a good defensible statement that other people will hear that shows that you did everything possible to encourage the customer to leave peaceably, before having to resort to the use of force to remove the person from the premises. If you are with another door supervisor it will also warn him that you are about to take action, and will allow him to prepare himself to assist with the ejection. If the customer still refuses to leave the premises, then you will have done as much as can be expected in trying to resolve the situation peacefully, and you will then have to take action and physically remove the trespasser from the premises, via the nearest or safest exit.

You will not always get the chance to go through this procedure prior to ejecting someone, of course. If you come across a fight in progress, for example, you will probably not get the chance to speak to the parties at all. You may simply have to grab a hold of one of the assailants to stop the fight, and then swiftly remove him from the premises. The procedure below should be followed, however, when at all possible. It is, if you like, the ideal way to carry out a physical ejection.

R.E.A.C.T. explains the order of actions to be taken before ejection:-

R- Request him to leave
E- Explain the reasons for the request (drunk, abusive, fighting etc)
A- Appeal for him to leave, explaining what will happen if he does not ( police, physical ejection)
C- Confirm that he still refuses to leave peacefully ("Is there anything ...........?")
T- Take action (eject)

As a last resort then you may have to physically eject the customer from the premises. The law allows you to do this provided that -


This means exactly what it says. If all that is needed to remove someone is gentle but persuasive guidance with one arm, then that is all you are entitled to do. If, however, the customer still refuses to leave, then more force will have to be used to effect the lawful ejection. At this point it is usually advisable to obtain the assistance of another door supervisor if possible, firstly to help you with the physical ejection to try to ensure that neither the door staff nor the customer sustain any unnecessary injuries, and secondly to act as a witness in case an allegation of assault is made against you at a later stage. Remember also that it is usually far easier for two door supervisors to physically remove a violent trespasser from the premises without hurting him, than it if for just one to try to do it on his own.

It is also within the licensing laws that police officers are required to assist with ejecting customers who are refusing to leave if requested to do so by the licensee or his employee or agent, and they may use such force as may be required to effect their purpose. This is obviously worth remembering if ever you are working as the only door supervisor at a pub where the manager asks you to remove a group of ten drunks from the premises.

If someone you have ejected becomes violent or attempts to force his way back into the premises, then again you should call the police to assist.

REMEMBER - You should only use these rules of trespass to eject someone from premises over which you have some control. Once the ejected customer is out of the premises and in the street you have no power over him unless he commits a criminal offence and you need to arrest him. If he continues to argue with you, creates a disturbance outside the premises or attempts to physically re-enter, then the police should be called and he will be dealt with accordingly. You could also consider effecting your powers of arrest to prevent the person from causing a 'breach of the peace'.

If and when you have to eject someone from the premises, then it should be reported to the person in charge of your duty immediately, and to safeguard yourself against any subsequent malicious allegations it should also be recorded briefly in the incident book held near the entrance.

It is obviously always better to try to use tact and persuasion to get the trespasser to leave the premises, only using force as a last resort. Even then you must use no more force than is necessary to remove the person from the premises.

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Anyone involved in security duties, and in particular anyone who may have to use a degree of force during the course of their work, must have a basic working knowledge of the laws and powers with regards to the varying degrees of assault. This basic understanding is essential for door supervisors, so that they can ensure that they use only a reasonable amount of force when necessary, and can act appropriately when witnessing or having to deal with an allegation of assault.

You will, of course, have heard of the term assault and battery.An assault is defined as any act where a person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend (fear) immediate and unlawful violence. The definition of battery is where a person intentionally or recklessly applies unlawful force to another person. If force is actually applied unlawfully or without the consent of the person being assaulted, then the assault becomes a battery.

There are various different charges that can be brought against someone who assaults another, depending on the seriousness of the injuries inflicted.

(Sec. 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988)

A common assault is the least serious type of assault, where either no actual injuries are caused, or when the injuries are of only a very minor nature. A push to the body or a slap around the face would come under this category, even though no actual injuries are sustained. The minor injuries covered by this offence include grazes, scratches, minor bruises, swelling, reddening, black eyes and minor superficial cuts. Even making a threat to assault someone can come under this category.

The offence of common assault is not an indictable offence, but is actionable through either the Magistrates Court by way of the injured party applying for a summons at court, or through the civil courts. The maximum penalty for anyone found guilty of committing such an assault is up to a £5,000 fine or up to 6 months imprisonment.

Doorstaff have no powers of arrest if they witness a common assault, but can obviously eject the offending customer from the premises. The police can also be called to give the appropriate advice to the victim if required. An arrest for "breach of the peace" may be considered, however, if it is necessary to prevent a more serious assault being committed.

(Sec.47 Offences Against the Person Act 1861)

If the injury sustained as the result of an assault is of a more serious nature, then a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm may be more suitable. This offence covers injuries such as broken or lost teeth, temporary loss of a sensory function such as consciousness, extensive or multiple bruising, minor cuts or minor fractures.

Anyone found guilty of committing a Sec.47 assault can be sentenced with up to a £5,000 fine or 6 month in prison at Magistrates Court, or up to 5 years in prison at a Crown Court.

Because of the possible sentence involved, this offence is an indictable offence and is therefore arrestable for door supervisors.

Doorstaff therefore, have the power to arrest anyone they see committing an assault occasioning actual bodily harm, or anyone they have reasonable grounds to suspect to have committed such an assault. If, for example, you come across a male repeatedly punching and kicking another person in the premises, and you can see that the victim has sustained multiple cuts and bruises, then you have the power to arrest the assailant and call the police.

SEC. 20 G.B.H.
(Sec.20 Offences Against the Person Act 1861)

"Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously, wound or inflict any grievous bodily harm upon any other person, either with or without any weapon or instrument, shall be liable to imprisonment".

A more serious offence yet is an assault whereby someone is occasioned grievous bodily harm. Injuries that fall under this section include the permanent loss of a sensory function (coma), visible disfigurement, broken or displaced limbs or bones, substantial blood loss and any injury resulting in lengthy treatment or incapacity.

This offence merely requires an unlawful or malicious act resulting in either a wounding or grievous bodily harm. The maximum penalties are the same for this offence as they are for assaults occasioning actual bodily harm, ie 5 years imprisonment, though sentences are usually harsher because of the nature of the injuries involved. Similarly it is also an indictable offence, and so door supervisors can detain the offender and call the police.

SEC. 18 - G.B.H. (with intent)
(Sec. 18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861).

"Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously, by any means whatsoever, wound or cause any grievous bodily harm to any person, with intent to do some grievous bodily harm to any person, or with intent to resist or prevent the lawful apprehension or detainer of any person shall be liable to life imprisonment"

Under this section, the offender has to intend to cause these serious injuries, or intend to resist or prevent the arrest of any person. Although the injuries under this section are the same as in a Sec.20 assault, it is considered far more serious because of the specific intent. Because of this, the maximum sentence for anyone found guilty of this offence at Crown Court is life imprisonment. This is obviously an indictable offence as well.

(Sec. 14 and 15 Sexual Offences Act 1956)

Both indecent assault on a male and a female carry sentences of up to 10 years imprisonment at Crown Court and 6 months or a £5,000 fine at Magistrates Court. Both are indictable offences.

Indecent assaults are any assaults accompanied by circumstances of indecency on the part of the offender towards the person being assaulted. The word indecent has no legal definition, but its generally accepted meaning is 'offensive to modesty, impure, obscene or unchaste behaviour in sexual matters'. It is ultimately for the court to decide whether any particular act is indecent or not, although in most circumstances it will be obvious.

You may be approached at the door, for example, by a very distressed female who alleges that someone inside the premises has indecently assaulted her, by grabbing her breasts. Provided that she is happy for the police to become involved, and can point out the suspect to you, then you have the power to arrest him and hold onto him until the police arrive

Door supervisors should assist the police if they visit the venue or are called to deal with an incident inside. There are two offences relating specifically to police officers that door supervisors need to be aware of.

SECTION 51(1) Police Act 1964
It is an offence for a person to assault a constable in the execution of his duty, or anyone assisting the constable in the execution of those duties.

Any person who resists or wilfully obstructs a constable in the execution of his duty, or anyone assisting the constable in the execution of those duties, commits an offence.

Section 41 Police (Scotland) Act 1967

It is an offence to assault, resist, obstruct, molest or hinder a constable in the execution of his duty, or a person assisting him in the execution of his duty. It is also an offence to rescue or attempt to rescue or assist or attempt to assist the escape of any person in custody.

As a door supervisor working at licensed premises, you will occasionally have to resort to the use of force when carrying out your lawful duties. There are times when the law allows you to use force, such as when ejecting unruly customers who refuse to leave when requested, or in self defence or in defence of another, or when effecting a lawful arrest or preventing a crime from taking place. In these circumstances you may use force, providing that such force is reasonable and necessary in those circumstances, and that you do not use more force than is required to effect your purpose.

If, having lawfully physically ejected a customer from the premises, you then continue to use force on him, either to "teach him a lesson" or to "stop him trying again", then you most certainly commit an assault and make yourself liable to arrest.

With regards to door supervisors carrying weapons, any such use of force with a weapon would certainly be an assault and is very likely to lead to arrest and prosecution. The courts would not look kindly on any member of a security team using a weapon to inflict injury on a member of the public.

Door supervisors also have specific powers of arrest to help them deal with assaults that occur on their premises, and should use them when the need arises.

Assault in Scotland can be defined as a criminal attack on the person of another, whether or not actual injury is inflicted.

Any type of assault is a crime under Common Law in Scotland, and so door stewards do have the necessary powers of arrest in most circumstances, particularly when there are serious injuries. Very minor assaults where there is no injury would normally be dealt with by way of ejection.

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All drugs are potentially dangerous, but more so when they are a misused or abused for non-medical or recreational purposes.

The effects of different types of drugs vary widely as well, depending on the strength of the dose, the amount taken, the abuser's state of mind and health, and whether they have been taken in conjunction with other substances, such as alcohol. The quality of drugs bought on the streets will vary as well, with varying degrees of purity and strength.

Add to these the risks from the various methods of taking the drugs, and it is easy to understand why most countries around the world have had to bring in laws to regulate their manufacture, sale, distribution, and possession.


  • It is against the law to allow illegal drugs on licensed premises (Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, Public Entertainments Licenses Drug Misuse Act 1997
  • The licensee can lose his licence
  • If the premises are full of drug abusers, very few drinks are sold, reducing profitability
  • Increase in fights on the premises, between rival dealers and over drugs money owed
  • Drug abusers can become violent themselves, increasing risk of physical harm to door supervisors
  • Reduced personal safety for door supervisors (risk of contagious drug related diseases)
  • The misuse of illegal street drugs causes about 700 deaths each year
  • Emergency first aid situations increase (assaults and overdoses)
  • The prevention/reduction of drug misuse in now very much a part of the security function
  • Door supervisors can face prosecution for allowing the misuse of drugs on licensed premises

Nightclubs and pubs have traditionally been seen as good places for drug dealers to sell their wares, and it follows that buyers go to certain licensed premises purely to buy drugs. Door supervisors working at such premises have a moral and professional duty to prevent the illegal sale and use of controlled drugs, and to try to reduce the effects of such abuse, like overdoses and accidents.

In order to keep incidents like these to a minimum it is obviously necessary to prevent dealers entering the premises to supply the drugs, and to prevent users from bringing their own drugs in. Licensed premises that become known as places where people can go to buy and use illegal drugs soon earn themselves a bad reputation, get bad press and invite investigation by the local police. If a venue you work at loses its licence for allowing drugs on the premises, you lose your job.

Magistrates and crown court judges can also impose heavy penalties on licensees who knowingly permit or suffer drug related activities to take place on their premises. But it is not only the licensee or manager who commits the offence. Certain sections of the Misuse of Drugs Act apply also to anyone 'concerned in the management of the premises', which could mean the door staff as well. For these reasons it is important that door supervisors take seriously their role in preventing the use and sale of drugs on those premises.

Incidents of violence are known to increase at pubs and clubs where illegal drugs are sold and used, as users fight amongst themselves, and dealers fight over territory and money.

Drugs affect people in different ways. While some relax and enjoy themselves, others suffer severe mood changes and may become violent. As a door supervisor you are likely to be on the receiving end of such aggression.

Customers may overdose on the premises, which means that door staff may have to neglect other security duties to administer first aid, with all of the obvious health risks to themselves.

For these and other reasons it is important that as far as is possible, drugs are kept out of the premises. It is one of a door supervisor's prime duties in protecting premises to keep drug related incidents to a minimum, and to use pro-active measures to stop dealing and misuse from taking place.

In order to be able to do this it is necessary to have a basic working knowledge of the laws and your powers in relation to controlled drugs, so that you can decide on the best course of action in any given situation.

This section aims to give you a brief appraisal of the drug laws which commonly apply to security personnel, explaining how to deal with breaches of these laws, outlining the types and classes of controlled drugs commonly found on licensed premises, and signs which might indicate to door staff that their premises may have a drug problem.

In 1971 the Misuse of Drugs Act was brought into force to regulate the use of 'controlled drugs', and defined numerous offences under the Act. It defined three categories of drugs according to their toxic effect, prevalence of misuse, danger to society and their subsequent penalties for misuse. All of the major controlled drugs have been listed here, but the most common drugs of misuse found or used on or around licensed premises have been highlighted.

Class A Drugs

The hardest drugs are found under this category, namely the narcotics and the hallucinogenic drugs. Narcotics were included in this class because of their dangerous addictive qualities, and the hallucinogenic drugs because of the violent reactions and activities of those who take them. Drugs in this class include:-

Morphine Opium
Heroin (diamorphine) Pethidine
Cocaine Mescaline
Crack LSD
Dipipanone Dextromoramide
Methadone Phencyclidine (P.C.P.)
Poppy Straw Psilocin (magic mushrooms if prepared)
Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) Cannabis Oil
MDA, MDMA (Ecstasy) Class B drugs prepared for injection (ie injectable amphetamines)

Class B Drugs

These are middle of the range in the seriousness of illegal drugs. Drugs in this group include:-

Amphetamines (stimulants)

Class C Drugs

There are about 40 drugs listed under this category, 35 of which are 'benzodiazepines' or tranquillisers. They were once considered to be the least harmful of the controlled drugs but can be very addictive, and the penalties for misuse are still lower than for Class A and B drugs. Class C drugs include:-

Anabolic/androgenic steroids (except on prescription)

Benzodiazepines such as Temazepam, Valium, Mogadon, Lubrium, Diazepam and Temgesic

Cannabis Resin
Herbal Cannabis
Buprenorphine (Temgesic)
Other less dangerous drugs usually given on prescription by a doctor.


The 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act lists a whole range of different drugs offences that can be committed by various people in the chain. It is important for door supervisors to have a very basic knowledge of these, so that they understand what offences can be committed and by whom, and to know how to act in drug related incidents.

Unlawful Possession (Section 5)

It is an offence for a person unlawfully to have a controlled drug in his possession.


Class A – up to 7 years imprisonment and/or a fine, or both (indictable)
Class B – up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine, or both (indicttable)
Class C – up to 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine, or both

Because of the sentences involved, the unlawful possession of Class A and B drugs are indicttable offences, but not for Class C.

This offence covers people who are found actually in possession of drugs, even in small amounts for their own personal use.

If, for example, you search a customer at the door as a condition of entry, and find a small magazine wrap of a brown powder in their wallet, then you would certainly have reasonable grounds to suspect that the powder was heroin. Heroin is a class A drug, and the unlawful possession of it is an arrestable offence, so you would have the power to seize the wrap, detain (arrest) the customer, and call the police. If the substance was, after proper examination by the police, found to be heroin, then the person found with it could be charged with being in ‘unlawful possession’ of a class A controlled drug. (You also have the option of seizing the suspected drugs, refusing entry to the customer, and securing the items as per local house/company policy.

Whenever the police arrest people for this offence themselves, the suspected drugs are sent off to a forensic laboratory for proper testing. Police officers are not authorised to say whether substances or tablets are controlled drugs or not, and obviously nor can door supervisors. As long as you have reasonable grounds to suspect, because of the appearance of the substance/tablets, or because of the way it is packaged or being carried/hidden etc, then you have the power to arrest. The police, once they have taken the person and the substance from you, will carry out the examination and investigation, and they will charge the person if there is sufficient evidence.

A door supervisor would not be guilty of the possession of drugs he had seized from a customer, or found on the premises, provided that he does so for one of the two following reasons:-

1. that believing them to be controlled drugs he took possession of them to prevent another person (the customer) from committing or continuing to commit an offence, and that as soon as he could he took appropriate steps to either destroy the drugs or hand them over to someone entitled to take custody of them (the police);


1. that believing them to be controlled drugs he took possession of them to hand them over to someone entitled to take custody of them, and that as soon as possible after seizing/finding them took all reasonable steps to deliver them to that person.

These rules would certainly cover the situations where door supervisors either find or seize controlled drugs during the course of their duties. This is why it is so important that if a venue has a search policy in relation to drugs, then it must also have a safe and secure system so that door supervisors can put them somewhere awaiting either destruction or collection by the police. For your own protection you need to know what the policy is, and you must stick to it. Any such seizures of drugs also needed to be recorded properly.

Unlawful Supply (Section 4)

It is an offence for a person unlawfully:-

(a) to supply a controlled drug to another;
(b) to be concerned in the supplying of such drug to another;
(c) to offer to supply a controlled drug to another;
(d) to be concerned in the making to another an offer to supply such a drug.


Class A – up to life imprisonment and/or fine, or both (indictable)
Class B – up to 14 years imprisonment and/or a fine, or both (indictable)
Class C – up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine, or both (indictable)

The unlawful supply of all 3 classes of drugs are indictable offences.

Supplying obviously refers to drug dealing, or selling. A person can also be found guilty of just giving someone drugs, or even just offering them some, it is not actually necessary for money to have exchanged hands.

Certainly anyone you catch dealing drugs on your premises should be arrested and handed over to the police, providing that it is safe for you to do so.

If you suspect that a customer is regularly selling drugs on the premises, but you cannot catch them actually committing an offence yourself, then the police should be informed. They may decide to start covert or plain-clothed observations themselves.

Possession With Intent to Supply (Section 5)

It is an offence for a person to have a controlled drug in his possession, whether lawfully or not, with intent to supply it unlawfully to another.


Class A – up to 14 years imprisonment (indictable)
Class B – up to 14 years imprisonment (indictable)
Class C – up to 5 years imprisonment (indictable)

This offence would cover someone found in possession of a large amount of drugs, which are obviously intended for sale to others.

If you search a customer at the entrance and find them carrying just a couple of ecstasy tablets, then the chances are they are for their own personal use, so an arrest for ‘unlawful possession’ would be suitable. If, on the other hand, they were found with a bag of 100 tablets, then you would certainly have reasonable grounds to suspect that they have them with them for selling on to others. In this case an arrest for ‘possession with intent to supply’ might be more suitable, although ultimately the police will decide what the person is finally charged with. This is a useful offence for drug dealers caught on their way to sell drugs, but not actually caught selling them.

Controlled Drugs on Premises (Section 8)

A person commits an offence if, being the occupier or concerned in the management of a premises, he knowingly permits or suffers any of the following activities to take place on those premises, that is to say:-

(a) unlawfully producing or attempting to produce a controlled drug;
(b) unlawfully supplying or attempting to supply a controlled drug to another or offering to supply a controlled drug unlawfully to another;
(c) preparing opium for smoking;
(d) smoking cannabis, cannabis resin, or prepared opium.


Class A – up to 14 years imprisonment (indictable)
Class B – up to 14 years imprisonment (indictable)
Class C – up to 5 years imprisonment (indictable)

This offence can be committed by the owners/managers of licensed premises, or by anyone else concerned in the management of those premises, which could include the door staff.

It is worth mentioning here that the word ‘knowingly’ can include wilful blindness, or closing one’s eyes to the obvious, not caring what happens. The word ‘permits’, however, implies actual knowledge that the offences are taking place, but doing nothing about it. The term ‘suffers’ means a failure to do anything about the situation, despite knowing that offences are being committed. It is important, therefore, that if your premises has a drug problem, you do not just sit back and allow it to happen. You should liase with the police at the earliest opportunity, to try to resolve the problem in partnership with them.

Legislation came into force on the 1st of April 1998 that was designed specifically to deal with the problems of drugs misuse on places of entertainment, namely night clubs.

It allows the appropriate authorities to close down night clubs that are considered to have serious problems in relation to the supply or use of controlled drugs, and allows local authorities to revoke an entertainment licence (PEL) if they receive appropriate information from the police. As an alternative to revocation, it also allows local authorities to impose new conditions to a license, in an effort to combat the problems.

If it was proved, for example, that a specific venue had organised drug dealing taking place on the premises, or there was evidence of significant numbers of customers suffering from the adverse effects of drugs, then this would obviously come under the category of a serious drugs problem, and the licence could be revoked. A number of drug seizures, however, as the result of effective searches at the point of entry, would not be used against the venue.

This legislation, again, stresses the importance for door supervisors to take an active role in the fight against drugs on licensed premises.

As shown above, there are severe penalties for the possession and supplying of drugs. Because of the possible sentences involved, many of the offences are 'indictable offences' and as such, door supervisors have powers to arrest where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act is taking or has taken place.

If, for example, whilst searching a customer at the door under the conditions of entry, you find him to be in possession of what you suspect to be a controlled drug from either Class A or Class B, then you have the power to arrest that person and detain him for the police. You would be arresting him for the unlawful possession of a controlled drug, as defined by Section 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

If during a routine patrol of the toilets inside the club or pub, you see one person passing what appear to be drugs to another person, then you have the power to arrest both of them, the first person for unlawfully supplying the drugs to another, and the second who took the drugs for unlawful possession.

In all drug related arrests door supervisors must take special care to keep observations on each person arrested in case they try to dispose of evidence (i.e. drugs) prior to the arrival of the police. Where possible the drugs should be seized at the time by the door supervisor pending police arrival, and then handed over to the officers when the facts of the arrest are related to them.

Evidentially it is usually better to have a witness when making arrests, so where possible door supervisors should try to work in pairs, although it is appreciated that this is not always possible.

Whether or not to arrest someone for a drugs offence is a matter for each door supervisor to decide at the time. Many factors will help you decide, especially any particular house policy laid down by the management, or specific instructions from the local police. Some premises, for example, only formally arrest drug dealers they catch, handling simple users by seizing their small amounts of drugs and then refusing them entry to the premises. The drugs are then handed over to the management or kept in specially designed locked safe-boxes near to the reception area until the end of the evening, when the police collect them and take them away for destruction.

It must be stressed at this point, however, that whenever door supervisors do seize drugs from people, that they must be immediately handed over to either the manager or the person in charge of the door staff. Door supervisors will rarely have any excuse for being found in possession of controlled drugs themselves. The age-old excuse of 'I took them from a customer and forgot to hand them in' is very unlikely to be accepted by the police or the courts these days.

Any arrests/seizures/ejections concerning controlled drugs should be either noted at the time in the door supervisor's notebook, or in the occurrence log held at the point of entry.

Types of Drugs - Click the link for descriptions of drugs that are used, bought and sold in and around licensed premises.


Whilst patrolling licensed premises when open, and at the end of each session, door supervisors should actively check for any of the obvious signs that drug taking and dealing are occurring;

  • Syringes and needles (from injecting)
  • Scorched tinfoil (from smoking heroin or crack)
  • Razor blades, penknives, credit cards (from cutting drugs)
  • Straws or rolled up bank notes/paper (from snorting cocaine)
  • Small pipes (from smoking various drugs)
  • Burnt spoons/cotton wool filters (from preparing drugs for injecting)
  • Discarded citric acid or lemon juice (from heroin taking)
  • Discarded magazine paper 'wraps' (packaging)
  • Discarded small pieces of clingfilm (packaging)
  • Discarded small self-seal bags (packaging)
  • Cigarette ends with rolled cardboard filters (cannabis)
  • Torn cardboard or 'Rizla' packets (cannabis)

Drug dealers come in all shapes, sizes, colours and ages, and make it their business not to stand out or bring attention to themselves. For this reason door supervisors have to be particularly vigilant to prevent regular dealers from starting up business on their licensed premises.

Dealers tend to position themselves in the same place whenever they visit a venue to deal, so that the customers get to know where to find them. These places tend to be the darker, more secluded areas of the pub or club, usually as far away from the door staff and bar staff as possible. They will often spend much of their time looking out for other people who might be watching them. Good dealers also sometimes use 'runners' and ‘minders’ to help them carry and supply the drugs, so regular short visits to a suspected dealer by another person would warrant further observations, particularly watching for any obvious passing of cash or the drugs themselves.

The local police or drugs squad officers can be called upon to assist licensed premises if the management or the door staff feel they are starting to get a problem which could ultimately cost them their licence. The local police licensing officer will have more sympathy and respect for any licensee or manager who goes to the police for help than for one who leaves it until the police themselves discover the problem, and have to carry out a drugs raid to put a stop to it.

Close and regular co-operation between licensed premises and the police can help in the fight against drug misuse and dealing, and door supervisors have the front-line job of assisting the licensee in supervising the premises effectively.

On the subject of the misuse of illegal drugs at raves and other dance events, the ‘Home Office’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs’ published a set of guidelines on the criteria for the granting of licences by local authorities. Specific recommendations included :-

  • The availability of free cold water
  • The provision of rest facilities in a cool environment
  • The monitoring of temperatures and air quality
  • The provision of information and advice on drugs
  • Compliance with a regulatory scheme for the selection, training and management of doorstaff

Further guidance was also given to licensed premises to assist them to reduce the use and sale of illegal drugs on those premises. It recommended that licensees, managers and/or organisers should :-

  • ensure that the outer clothing, pockets and bags of those entering are searched by a trained venue staff member of the same sex in cases where there is reasonable suspicion that drugs are being carried;
  • put up a clearly visible notice advising those attending that it is a condition of entry that customers agree to being searched and that the police will be informed if anyone is found in possession of controlled substances or weapons;
  • ensure security arrangements are sufficient to discourage the sale and consumption of drugs (eg have venue staff located in the toilet area or make regular checks there)
  • exclude customers known to have been previously convicted of committing criminal offences relating to drugs;
  • liaise with the police to consider what steps might be taken to assist with surveillance, these might include installing video surveillance equipment to monitor activity;
  • seek advice of the police on procedures for keeping records of incidents and making such records available for inspection (eg nature of incident to be recorded, all incidents of specific types such as those involving disorder, violence, drug use, drug dealing, other crime, ill health etc, and the specific information required);
  • policies to be developed by owners/managers/organisers and the police on action to be taken concerning storage and disposal/transfer of confiscated drugs, and procedures towards individuals who commit criminal offences;
  • liaise with local drug agencies to develop a drugs prevention strategy for the venue;
  • display posters and/or distribute leaflets and other information about the effects and dangers of and the laws in relation to drugs;
  • deal with customers who become ill and take appropriate action, liaising between customers and staff over problems, conflicts or drug dealing on the premises;
  • provide adequate first aid facilities, having at least two trained first aiders on the premises at all times during the event.

Drugs offences are covered by the same statute laws in Scotland as they are in England and Wales, not as crimes under common law, and so door stewards do not have any specific statutory powers of arrest for these matters. Because of the seriousness of these types of offences, however, stewards may revert back to their common law powers of arrest to deal with these types of situations, and so can deal with drugs incidents/finds in the same way as door supervisors in England and Wales do.

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Any premises that is open to the public can be the target of a terrorist attack or threat. Some terrorist groups work on an international basis, whereas others fight for domestic issues. Certain terrorist organisations target just one particular company for a specific reason, while others may be more indiscriminate in their targeting.

The nature of threats change frequently, so regular risk assessment is important. As well as the better known terrorist organisations with Irish or Middle Eastern connections, we now also have several animal-rights groups and sections of eco-activists who pose real threats to trading premises.

As pubs and clubs try to attract members of the public to use their premises as places of entertainment, they need to ensure their customers' safety by having effective security plans to help minimise the threat from terrorist attack. All licensed premises now also need to take counter-terrorist precautions on an individual basis. This section has been included so that door supervisors can be aware of the threat, can take precautions against the threat of attack and so that they can respond effectively if they become involved in a terrorist attack on licensed premises when they are on duty.

Certain terrorist organisations are willing to carry out indiscriminate attacks on premises despite the large numbers of people that regularly use them. It is important, therefore, that managers of these types of premises assess the potential risk to the safety of all members of staff and customers on the premises, as they are now legally obliged to do so under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations of 1992.

When assessing the potential risk to the premises certain factors need to be considered :-

  1. general knowledge about what is currently happening around the world;
  2. any recent terrorist attacks or threats in the area;
  3. the location of the premises in relation to other possible targets nearby;
  4. whether the premises is important or famous in itself;
  5. the vulnerability of the premises.

It may seem obvious, but the greater the potential risk to the premises from a terrorist attack or threat, the better the security measures employed at those premises will need to be.

Attacks or threats to the premises may come from :-

  • Political groups
  • Religious groups
  • Mentally disturbed people
  • The competition
  • Angry ex-employees
  • Disgruntled neighbours
  • Dissatisfied or recently-ejected customers
  • Criminals with extortion motives
  • Hoax calls for a variety of reasons

As door supervisors patrol licensed premises as a normal part of their duties they must remain vigilant for any suspicious or 'out-of-place' objects, and for anyone displaying unusual behaviour. Anyone who loiters with no apparent purpose, or who appears to be watching members of staff or the CCTV system more than usual should be challenged. Hallways, corridors and toilet areas need to be patrolled regularly by the doorstaff, as do all areas both inside and outside the premises. Door supervisors must report anything suspicious to the management of the premises as soon as possible, so that the police can be called to investigate.

Areas of the premises not open to the public such as store rooms, kitchens and staff areas should be securely locked at all times when not in use, restricting access to unauthorised people.

Good housekeeping both inside and outside of the premises will help to prevent a terrorist from planting an explosive device undetected. If all rooms, stairways, corridors and communal areas are kept tidy and free from rubbish it makes it more difficult for a terrorist to find somewhere to hide a device. Toilets and reception areas should also be regularly checked and cleared of unnecessary clutter or rubbish.

Searching customers as a condition of entry will also act as a deterrent to anyone considering bringing an explosive device into the premises. As the threat increases as the result of the political climate or more local issues, more regular and thorough searches should be made at the point of entry. Door supervisors must recognise the need to search customers and the premises itself properly, and to recognise items which might be bombs. They must, for everyone's safety, remain vigilant to the terrorist threat at all times.

In an effort to reduce the chances of any type of bomb being smuggled into and planted on the premises, the door team must :-

  • challenge anyone found in areas where they should not be
  • carry out efficient searches at the point of entry
  • be vigilant for suspicious persons or behaviour
  • look out for suspicious articles as they patrol the premises
  • search the premises at the end of the evening for any abandoned articles
  • report anything suspicious to the management so that the police can be called to investigate.

The majority of the timed explosive devices will not look like bombs. Terrorists will attempt to disguise them in order to reduce the chances of their being found before they can be activated. In the pub or nightclub environment door supervisors should be on the look out for any apparently abandoned bags or packages, or for any other articles which look out of place or have no reason to be there. A suspicious object is any item which may contain a bomb, which is out of place and which cannot be accounted for. For this reason any suspicious package or bag found must be treated with extreme caution and the police should be called immediately.

Some terrorist groups are known to place bombs in or under vehicles which are then parked outside the target building. While door supervisors have little control over how and where people park their vehicles, if they become suspicious of any particular vehicle they should not hesitate to contact the police for advice and assistance. Regular patrols of the outside of the premises, observing vehicles that park near the venue and external CCTV cameras all go to help prevent an attack of this type.

Parcel or letter bombs may also be sent to premises, although this will usually be during the day when most door supervisors are not there. Licensed premises do need to be aware, however, of the action that needs to be taken should they receive such a suspect package. The package should be isolated in a locked room if possible. It should not be touched, poked, prodded or bent by way of inspection, nor should it be placed in water or have anything placed on top of it. The immediate area will need to be evacuated, usually by using the fire alarm system, and the police should be called.

Incendiary devices are small in size and are usually disguised to look like everyday items which do not look out of place in the areas they are to be left, such as cigarette packets. They are designed to ignite and cause fire on the premises, sometimes whilst the premises are open to the public, but often after the place is closed. The risk of an outbreak of fire in a pub or club when it is open to the public is obvious, but an incendiary device set to go off when the premises has closed has less chance of the fire being detected, therefore causing maximum damage before the alarm is raised. On licensed premises small devices may be left or hidden in bins, on shelves, in bar areas, behind curtains or in sanitary-towel holders in the toilets.

Because of their size and the ways in which they can be disguised, incendiary devices are relatively easy for terrorists to smuggle into licensed premises. Some are undetectable by the metal-detectors that some security teams use for searching customers at the point of entry, and some cannot even be detected by x-ray machines. It is important to note here that it is not unknown for high-explosive bombs to be disguised as incendiary devices.

If door supervisors find a suspected incendiary device on the premises they must NOT handle it, firstly because doing so may destroy any forensic evidence, but more importantly some of these devices are unstable and so unnecessary handling may cause them to ignite in your hands. Such devices can kill or maim. The management of the premises will need to be informed immediately, the area should be cleared in a calm and efficient manner, and both the police and the fire brigade will need to be called.

If an incendiary device ignites on the premises whilst it is open the fire alarm should be raised immediately, and only if it is safe to do so should the door supervisors make one brief attempt to put out the fire. The premises must be evacuated as soon as possible. Supervisors need to be aware, however, that other devices (ie explosives) may have been planted in the same area, so they should not remain there for any longer than is necessary.

High explosive devices are made to cause serious damage to both people and property. When they explode they can cause major structural damage to the building and can cause death and injury from the blast and from flying glass and debris travelling at high speeds through the air.

Packages containing explosives may also be disguised to make them look like everyday objects so that they are not spotted before they go off. They are often found in the form of bags, briefcases, lunchboxes, flasks, books, boxes or other types of package.

Most high explosive devices consist of the following elements :-

The explosive.
Commercial or military explosive is a dense putty-like material that may come in blocks, lumps or sticks. It may be in its original wrappers, wrapped in cellophane or concealed in a container. In some devices the explosive may be home-made, and may be in the form of a powder or granules. This is as dangerous as military or commercial explosive.

The detonator.
This is a copper or silver tube with coloured wires attached and imparts the shock which is required to detonate the explosive. It will normally be inserted into the mass of explosive. In the case of home-made explosives, however, the detonator is often taped to an intermediary, resembling coloured washing line, which then runs into the explosive.

The timer.
This may either be a mechanical clockwork timer or an electronic timer, mounted on a printed circuit board. Often the timer will be housed in a small plywood box and one or a number of coloured LEDs may also be visible. The timer acts as a switch to close the firing circuit at a predetermined time, which may be a number of hours or a matter of seconds. This is why once it has been decided that a package is suspicious, no-one should return to it to take a better look. This should be left to the police or the bomb disposal experts.

The power source.
This will normally be one or more batteries and is often housed in the same plywood box as the timer. The electric current is required to power an electric timer (if present), and to fire the detonator.

The wiring.
Wires of various colours are used to link the components, with the junctions being covered with coloured plastic adhesive tape. You should never attempt to cut or disconnect any wires as this may activate the detonator.

The container.
This can take absolutely any form and will be used to transport and disguise the components above. Containers made of plastic or other non-conductive materials are most common. The package or container itself should not be moved as it may trigger an anti-tamper mechanism within it.

Door supervisors obviously need to be observant for suspicious persons or objects as they patrol the pub or club they are working at during the normal course of their duties, but they may also be required to search the premises in response to a specific threat if asked to do so by either the management or the police.

The police do not usually search the premises for suspect devices for you, as they will not necessarily know the layout of the premises, and certainly not as well as the regular members of staff. Also they will not know what items should and should not be there, making it more difficult for them to recognise anything suspicious.

It is important, therefore, that door supervisors and other members of staff have a set procedure for searching the premises as quickly and as effectively as possible. A search-plan should be devised by the management which divides the premises into separate sectors, with members of staff having responsibility for particular areas. Each and every part of the building will need to be searched, both inside and out.

As mentioned earlier, bombs can be disguised in many ways, so when searching any premises for suspect packages you should be on the lookout for :-

  • Anything that cannot be accounted for
  • Anything that should not be there
  • Anything that looks out of place

A safe, swift but efficient system needs to be devised so that the whole building is searched in a logical and thorough manner.

This is usually best done by the person searching a room or area standing at the entrance initially and looking around the whole room. A brief but careful inspection should show any obviously out of place objects, and will also indicate any areas which will need particular attention. Any unusual lights (LEDs) or noises (timers) should be immediately reported to the management who may decide to evacuate at this stage. If nothing suspicious is found, however, then the full and careful search of that area should begin.

This full search should be conducted in a methodical way, working clockwise around the room or area, in three separate stages.

Stage one is to search the edges of the area, inspecting the walls from top to bottom and the floor area directly beneath the wall. Any alcoves should be searched, behind curtains and pelmets, behind, on and under furniture, and anywhere else around the edges of the area. You should work clockwise around the area, finishing up at the entrance where you began.

Stage two should include all of the furniture and the floor area in the middle of the room, although this should be done without actually moving the furniture about.

Stage three concentrates on the ceiling, including any light fittings or items suspended from the ceiling by way of decoration.

Searchers may find it useful to use torches to search particularly dark areas. They should not, however, use radio equipment to relate information to other parties once a suspicious package has been found, as although it is unlikely there is a slight possibility that transmission may accidentally activate a device which uses radio waves to detonate it. Door supervisors in these circumstances should move away from the device (police recommend at least 25 metres) before using their radios to pass information about their discovery.

If anything suspicious is found during the search then the management should be informed immediately. If nothing is found then the person in charge of the premises still needs to be told so that he can mark that particular area off as 'clear'.

The decision as to whether to evacuate the premises is a matter for the management, after consultation with the police. This decision will be made taking into account the obvious dangers of injuries to staff and members of the public should a device explode, and the risks of exposing a large number of people to the blast when the location of the bomb is unknown. Whenever people are moved about in groups, particularly under the threat of a bomb exploding on the premises, the result can be mass panic which may cause injuries in itself. In some situations a total evacuation may serve only to expose the greatest number of people to injury or death. It may, therefore, be decided to evacuate the whole premises, or only specific areas which are considered to be under threat.

Although the question of evacuation is for the management of the premises to decide upon, if the police receive specific information about a threat or attack they may overrule any such decision. There are four main actions that can be taken in these circumstances :-

1) To do nothing - this decision will normally only be made if those deciding the issue are sure that the threat is a hoax or a prank.

2) To search and then to evacuate if necessary - this action gives the management the opportunity to search the premises for any suspect packages before making the decision as to whether to evacuate or not. The disadvantage with this action is that staff and customers are allowed to remain in the building during the search, which obviously puts them at danger if there is a suspect package present. The advantage is that if something suspicious is found then the public can be evacuated away from the danger.

3) To search and partially evacuate - a decision just to evacuate the immediate area where the suspect package is supposed to be will not necessarily create panic, but will give the door team enough space to search that particular area properly before allowing customers to re-enter it. If a device is found, then the remainder of the building may then be evacuated.

4) Full immediate evacuation - this decision will usually be made if there is a real threat of an imminent explosion on the premises, evacuating the whole building as safely and as efficiently as possible, even before any search is made. If it is decided, once the premises is empty, to then conduct a proper search of the premises, this can be done far more easily when the building is empty.

When any licensed premises needs to be evacuated if a fire breaks out, the procedure is fairly straight forward. The fire alarm goes off and the customers leave the premises via the nearest fire exit. In situations where a suspect package has been found, however, there are often added factors to be considered. It is not, for example, always the best idea just to sound the fire alarm and let the people make their own way out. If the suspect device is in a particular part of the premises you will want to direct the people away from it. Many venues use the DJs public address system to give instructions to the public in bomb situations. They can be told which exit to leave by, to take all of their belongings with them (making any subsequent searches easier), and to walk, not run. The way that these instructions are given can reduce the chances of creating unnecessary panic or distress.

During controlled evacuations the door supervisors play an important role. The idea is to evacuate the whole premises quickly and safely. Supervisors can assist in this by directing customers to the safest exit, keeping the crowd calm and by rendering help to anyone who needs it. To prevent people from panicking the main lights should all be switched on and the music should be turned off.

Once people have passed through the exit doors they tend to hang around outside them, either to get back in once the emergency is over or because they do not know where to go. This is a dangerous situation as too many people standing directly outside the exits may prevent others from getting out. Door supervisors need to move those people away from the exits and away from the building.

All members of staff from the premises, including the door supervisors, will need to meet at a pre-arranged assembly point once the building has been evacuated. For safety reasons this should be at least 400 metres away from the building, preferably behind the cover of another building for example, but away from glazed areas.

Only when the building has been properly searched and any suspect devices made safe will the management, again after consultation with the police, decide that the premises is safe enough to re-occupy. The door team will then need to assist with a safe, controlled re-entry to the premises.

Once it has been decided that a package or object is suspicious, then the following instructions must be followed.

  1. Attempt to trace the owner (it may have been left accidentally)
  2. Do NOT open it, touch it or otherwise try to examine it
  3. Do NOT move it
  4. Do NOT put it into water to try to diffuse it
  5. Do NOT put anything on top of it
  6. Do NOT attempt to cut or disconnect any visible wires
  7. Do NOT use radios within 25 metres of the device (it could activate the device)
  8. Leave a distinctive marker near to (but not touching) the device
  9. Clear the area of people, taking details of any witnesses who saw the device being planted
  10. Inform the management of the premises
  11. Call the police
  12. Evacuate the premises
  13. The lights in the room where the device is should be left on
  14. Doors and windows in the vicinity of the device should be left open to reduce flying debris
  15. Draw a route or plan to the package for the police and bomb-disposal experts
  16. Whoever found the device will need to remain to be interviewed by the police
  17. All door supervisors should standby to assist the police as required.

If the police decide to call for the bomb-disposal unit to attend the scene, then they will require the following information for the team when they arrive :-

  1. The exact location of the device and details of any obstacles in the area such as doors, stairs, furniture etc
  2. A full description of the device from the person who found it
  3. They may want to speak to any other witnesses who can provide useful information about the device, particularly if they saw it being placed
  4. Whether the area surrounding the device has been searched for secondary devices or any other items of particular interest
  5. Details of any secondary hazards in the area such as gas tanks, electricity sub-stations, chemicals or flammable materials
  6. Any plans or maps of the venue which may help them to decide on the appropriate course of action.

Anyone involved in a terrorist incident, whether there is a actual explosion or not, could suffer certain after-effects. Post-traumatic shock can effect anyone. Door supervisors are advised to keep an eye on their colleagues in the weeks following any serious bomb incident, so that they can identify anyone who appears to be suffering from shock. There are now several professional welfare and counselling agencies that can help anyone suffering from the long-term psychological effects that these types of incidents can bring about.

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