Shortage of bouncers threatens bar and nightclub reopening

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Three in five door supervisor positions are at risk of being unfilled when bars, pubs and nightclubs reopen later this year, due to an exodus of staff over the past 12 months.

The UK Door Security Association (UKDSA), which represents firms that provide door security for the night-time industry, claimed that significant numbers of security professionals have sought new roles while bars and nightclubs have remained closed during the pandemic.

Some staff from overseas have also returned home because of Brexit, it said.

Up to 20% of door security guards, or “bouncers”, have been redeployed to other security positions by their employers and around 35% of those who were employed by the sector in March 2020 are now working in other areas of security or in other industries.

Just 5% of 100 door supervisors polled want to return to night time economy positions.

UKDSA said in a statement: “Our members have carried out comprehensive research within their businesses which shows a loss of around 40% of their front-line door supervisors.

“The events sector is planning to condense a traditionally long spring and summer calendar into the late summer period, which will add further resourcing pressures to the security sector.”

The number of applications for door supervisor licences and renewals are significantly down on previous years, it said, and the shortage of staff could threaten businesses’ ability to open when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Licensing regulations require businesses to have the correct ratio of security staff to operate.

In addition to the pressures, from 1 April security staff must have first-aid qualifications before taking the training required to be a door supervisor, according to the Security Industry Authority – the regulatory body for the sector. UKDSA urged the regulator to delay the introduction of the changes for new entrants and renewals to April 2022, which it said would allow the industry to recruit the number of staff it needs.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “We rely heavily on licensed door supervisors to keep our staff and customers safe. With the additional responsibility of public health within these unprecedented times, it is even more important that we remove barriers to ensure that we are able to fulfil the resource requirement.

“Additional barriers will present further issues, limiting businesses from opening if they are reliant on this resource as part of their licensing conditions.

“This will need a government intervention to ensure that the industry has the ability to provide enough staff. While the training is welcomed, it is not timely given the current economic situation across most of the sector, and consideration needs to be given to it being pushed back to 2022.”

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