Ross Wigham looks at increased priorities for the licensed trade in security courses
The major training concerns of pub and bar managers may once have been pulling the perfect pint or learning the latest drinks prices, but more sinister overtones now occupy their thoughts.
Security measures and concerns over illegal drugs are now high on the list of priorities around the nation's nightspots and a rise in training is testament to the scale of the problem.
The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), the professional body for the licensed trade with around 15,000 members, is finding that a raised awareness of security issues and drugs is becoming essential to help prevent prosecution.
A marked increase in the number of staff completing the relevant training courses and gaining qualifications shows the sector is worried about the risks. The BII launched the National Certificate for Door Supervisors in 1998 and so far 4,246 people have completed training, with 1,312 of those qualifying in the last eight months.
Similarly the Licensee's National Drugs Certificate, which has been endorsed by Bob Ainsworth, responsible for the Government's anti-drugs co-ordination policy, has attracted 846 pub staff since its launch late last year.
Both courses were launched in response to growing problems with violence and drugs, says John McNamara, chief executive of the BII. The training aims to make prevention and detection more professional.
"Two or three years ago we identified the need for new training and this was demand-led from the industry. Pubs and bars wanted to have a more professional approach to drugs and door management," he says.
Increased door management training also came about in response to a hardening of opinion among local authorities, many of which now insist door staff are trained to a certain standard before issuing a public entertainment licence.
Most big cities with large scale nightlife now operate a registration scheme, which means that only properly trained staff can work on the door of licensed premises.
The training, which varies in length depending on local requirements, covers first aid, conflict management, safety, refusing entry, eviction and use of force, and is assessed by exams and physical competence.
McNamara says the registration schemes have been useful for the industry and the authorities, because height