‘How are we meant to feel safe?’ Legal loophole allows sex offenders to become bouncers

‘Part of their job is protecting women from the same crimes that they’ve been convicted of’

A legal loophole allows registered sex offenders to become bouncers on the doors of nightclubs.

Bouncers must have a licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and although they do background checks before giving out licences, those with prior offences are not barred.

According to The Times, the SIA which is a Home Office agency, requires “applicants pass exams on door supervision, conflict management and physical intervention. Identity and criminal record checks are undertaken.”

However The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act means those with prior convictions cannot be refused a job purely because of their criminal history. The exception to this is with the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act which means offenders cannot work with children or vulnerable adults.

As women and club goers are not counted as “vulnerable adults” it means it’s perfectly acceptable for sex offenders to become bouncers in night clubs.

This loophole has been around for a number of years but has only recently been brought to public attention following the death of Sarah Everard.

The Tab spoke to a number of female students who weren’t aware this was the case and are now much more wary about entering clubs in the future.

Sussex student Georgia said she felt this was another example of the government making women feel unsafe.

She told The Tab: “When I go clubbing I am faced with several risks. I worry about leaving my drink unattended and getting spiked or I worry that a man will grope me or touch me in some way that makes me uncomfortable. Now there’s the potential risk of security staff adding to this problem?

“I can’t comprehend it – it should be our right to feel safe at night time but it’s like there is every obstacle in the way possible to prevent this from happening. The government are doing everything in their power to make women feel uncomfortable.”

Southampton student Emily said she already doesn’t feel safe around bouncers and now hearing this has made her even more fearful.

She told The Tab: “How are we meant to feel safe when bouncers could be sex offenders and police officers could be murderers? I’ve never felt easy around bouncers but this is just straight up ridiculous. Guarantee if it were 97 per cent of men who got sexually harassed they would have never let sex offenders be bouncers in the first place.

“Who on earth are we meant to trust when it seems like every person meant to help protect us could potentially bring us harm? Where is the logic?”

Following the recent death of Sarah Everard the government has attempted to make women feel safer by putting more money into streetlights and having plain clothes police officers in clubs and bars. A move that was met with a resounding no by the majority of women.

The Home Office has said it will not be changing the licensing criteria for bouncers and stressed the SIA do a thorough background check on people before they become a bouncer.

They said: “The SIA conducts a careful check of an individual’s suitability before they can gain a licence to work in the private security sector, including a thorough and compulsory criminal record check. This includes checking for sexual offences and the SIA are able to refuse licences on a case-by-case basis.”

However many women’s charities are campaigning for this to be changed. Rape Crisis England and Wales said it’s essential those employed to provide safety should not be posing any threat themselves.

A spokesperson for the charity, Katie Russell said: “When security staff are being employed precisely to improve the safety of customers, it is essential that they themselves don’t pose any potential threat.

“When individuals do have a documented history of this kind of offending, it is completely inappropriate for them to be employed in these roles.”

Featured image credit: Dominik Mecko on Unsplash  

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