Bouncers violence towards clubbers: Are they too powerful?
A question we’ve probably all asked ourselves after a night out
Imagine this. You’re on a night out at one of Leeds nightclubs, enjoying yourself with your friends. It hits 3am, you’re all smashed and ready to go to McDonald's on the way home. But on your way out of the club, you end up in a fight, being beaten by a pack of bouncers, leading to you being knocked unconscious and left in a critical condition.
In December, a Leeds student was was knocked unconscious by a bouncer while on a night out, which raises the question: are bouncers too powerful?
Undoubtedly, bouncers should have the power to keep members of the public safe, yet where should the line be drawn? Yes, there are times where people do need to be restrained if they are being rowdy, but should bouncers be allowed to be violent towards us, when it’s usually just the alcohol talking?
So, how safe do we feel around bouncers as students in Leeds?
The Leeds Tab conducted a survey to see if students feel safe when around bouncers on a night out in Leeds. The results weren’t too surprising, with 65 per cent of respondents saying that they felt unsafe. There are many reasons for students not feeling safe, ranging from general rudeness and arrogance to targeting specific people for no apparent reason.
That’s not to say on every night out every bouncer we come across makes us students feel unsafe. Of course, many bouncers are reasonable and do their job correctly. But, as always, there are a large number of bouncers who create a negative stigma around them by acting in unnecessary ways.
The Leeds Tab asked students to provide specific examples of when they have been a victim of verbal or physical abuse. A 19-year-old student studying at the Leeds College of Music who has asked to remain anonymous was "grabbed by the throat" on a night out, and "dragged out of a back entrance and thrown on the ground". After the event, he stated that he felt shaky and scared, inevitably leading him to feel more cautious of bouncers in the future. Is this type of violence necessary? Do young people need to be treated like criminals in order to remove them from a club?
This is not the only example of where students have been victims of physical and verbal abuse. The sexualisation of young women, aggression, and unnecessary force is a repeated experience for many students who I have spoken to.
But why don’t students speak out about this?
Well, quite frankly, most people know nothing will be done and fear being banned from a club if they do speak out. Usually, complaints are ignored because it is assumed that we are at fault for being too drunk and provoking the bouncers.
It is one thing being escorted from a club and asked to leave, and yes sometimes we are too drunk and need to go home. But it is a step too far when unnecessary violence and force is used.
There are clearly not enough consequences for bouncers if a complaint is made about their behaviour, and they feel as if they can get away with abusing people without any punishments.
How can the situation change for the better?
We asked students if they think that we can avoid bouncers exploiting their power and becoming unnecessarily violent towards people. Here are the top three strategies that were suggested.
There should be stricter regulations that bouncers should follow. They should understand the limitations of their power, and the amount of force they can exert.
If bouncers break regulations, then they should be punished. Bouncers and clubs should be held more accountable for their actions, and these punishments should be implemented to protect the public.
3. CCTV and filming of bouncers
Around Leeds, bouncers wearing cameras are becoming more common, so if a complaint is made, the video can be watched to see who was at fault. This should be compulsory, to protect students as well as the bouncers. Does being a bit rowdy mean one should be beaten until unconscious, like what occurred in Manchester? Does being a bouncer mean one should be able to unfairly assault someone if they are provoked by a drunk person? The answer is no. More reasonable, tolerable bouncers are needed. Problematic, drunk people should not be unreasonably hurt, and club owners and the council should ensure the protection of the public is a priority.