The ugly side of nightclub bouncers

25 incidents involving bouncers reported to the Durham police in the past four months.

bouncers door supervisors durham nightclub

Information released by the Durham police has revealed that 25 incidents have been reported to them involving bouncers in the four months from October 2011 to February 2012. The incidents range from a member of door staff being glassed in the face to a customer who was ejected from an establishment reporting a broken leg, alleged to have occurred during ejection.

The sample of night-time establishments are those frequented often by Durham students; Klute, Loveshack, Jimmy Allen’s, Fabio’s, Bishop’s Mill, Wetherspoon’s and Academy.

Eight of the reports are from customer complaints or allegations involving the physical force used by door staff, including one allegation that a door staff punched someone in the face.

There is no evidence that students were involved and DSU Welfare Officer Scott Parker reported that the “DSU has surprisingly not had any complaints this year that are specifically about bouncers”.

However, The One has been in contact with a number of students who have complained about the behaviour of door staff. Last term, a third year student was punched in the face and, when she asked the door staff for help, they ejected her for being intoxicated.

One second-year was pushed over by a bouncer while he was trying to get in and cracked his head open, but the police were unable to look into the student’s case due to a lack of CCTV footage.

To qualify as a door supervisor you need to obtain an SIA licence, which involves passing three separate multiple choice exams and a practical assessment on physical intervention. According to the SIA, the “main qualities required by a security operative” are recognising customer needs, principles of customer care and presenting a professional image.

After engaging in a forcible ejection, one door staff working in Durham was asked to justify his actions. The gentleman, who gave his name as Mickey Mouse, replied concisely, “I don’t have to answer any questions, so fuck off.”

Presumably Mr. Mouse overlooked the SIA behavioural standards, which suggests, “door supervisors must always be positive, professional, and polite”.

The SIA permit is yellow and is often displayed on the upper arm, it is an offense for a door supervisor not to display one ‘where it can be seen at all times’. A former nightclub owner contacted The One to report incidences of door supervisors working in Durham without displaying an SIA permit. The SIA government body could not confirm if they had investigated the matter for legal reasons.

Most door supervisors operating in Durham are hired independently from a contractor company and so the bars are not primarily liable for their actions. Rob Woolford, the manager of Bishop’s Mill, maintains the establishment has a zero-tolerance to door staff not performing and he has, in the past, let staff go for not acting professional.

When faced with severely intoxicated, and often violent, customers it is difficult to maintain professional standards. The police report contains seven incidents of threats or violence against door staff, which includes a female assault, a lone male as part of a large group attacking the doorman and a car full of males threatening the door staff.

Woolford pointed out at Bishop’s Mill that it was often the regulars who get violent. “Students come out in quite big groups and get quite drunk and act silly but it is very rare that there is serious confrontation”, he added. Last Wednesday, a popular student night, the door staff did report  refusing people for drunkenness and student fights breaking out in the smoking area.

There will inevitably be incidents between students and bouncers and it is the responsibility of the student to ensure they avoid physical contact because it authorises door staff to retaliate. According to a judge working in London, bouncers have the same right as any other citizen with regards to self-defence. “You are not allowed to assault a customer just because he/she was drunk, but if a customer hits a doorman they are entitled to defend themselves,” he commented.

Door supervisors are constrained to using ‘only such force that is necessary’ when ejecting customers and can become liable if they are deemed to have used excessive force. Any students who wish to complain about the behaviour of a door supervisor in Durham can email info@sia.homeoffice.gov.uk.