Club bouncers 'taking over' from police

Keeping the peace is increasingly in the hands of private security staff, writes Sophie Goodchild

IT'S NEARLY closing time. Two women scream abuse across the crowded bar before clawing at each other with elegantly manicured nails. Welcome to a Friday night in Nottingham.

Within seconds the feuding duo are dragged apart, witness statements taken and relative calm restored for the more sober drinkers.

It happens every night of the week in pubs and clubs across the UK. A few years ago the police would have been called to sort out the fracas - now, any trouble is dealt with by bouncers.

Researchers at Durham University have studied nightlife in Britain's major cities and, in a report to be published next year, will conclude that bouncers now constitute a second police force. In places such as Manchester and Leeds there are as many, if not more, bouncers on the street after dark than police officers.

Indeed, private security firms are taking advantage of the fact that police forces are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit. This year alone the number of officers serving in the Metropolitan Police fell to 24,000 from 26,000 last year.

As the police move off the streets, because there are not enough officers to patrol them, so the number of bouncers increases. In the next couple of years more than a quarter of a million men and women will be employed as "private security staff". On Friday the Government announced details of an official training scheme for bouncers.

Cassandra is one of a growing number of female bouncers. Before getting her job she was vetted by the Nottingham police to ensure that she didn't have a criminal record. When her record was pronounced "clean" she was given an official badge and now works at Squares, an upmarket bar in the city centre, where customers wearing trainers are politely turned away.

At weekends, she is one of eight staff who patrol the club, on the look out for under-age drinkers. She regularly monitors the ladies toilets for drug-takers. Her worst experience was when a man pulled a knife on her. Colleagues quickly came to her assistance and her assailant is now serving three years in prison.

Nottingham is already piloting a compulsory vetting procedure for door staff in a city where 95 per cent of bars and clubs use private security. Currently there are well over 1,000 bouncers at work compared with 1,113 police officers on the street. By 2001 the bouncers will be in the majority.

Cassandra's view is that security work is a more attractive proposition than joining the police. She said: "You are faced with difficult situations, but the career prospects are far better than with the police and you don't have to do all the horrible work that the police have to, like telling people their kid has been murdered."

Outside Media, a fashionable drinking spot, Richard Williams is weeding out possible drug-takers and trouble-seekers.

His eyes scan the queue of goose-pimpled girls, whose bare feet are turning blue inside their strappy high heels, and the anxious young men in bicep- hugging T-shirts.

In a doorway, one man is noisily parting company with the copious contents of his stomach.

A martial arts teacher by day, Richard has been a bouncer for 18 years. With his chunky gold chains and black uniform he radiates menace, but he stresses that violence is never an option.

He says would like door staff to have more powers comparable with those of the police.

"The police are working with us a lot more now, but they used to think we were taking their jobs away," he says. "We now do incident reports if someone is escorted out and everything is captured on CCTV. There is also the option of citizen's arrest but we are still limited. The police have got batons - we should have more powers."

A gaggle of whey-faced boys in bow ties has reached the front of the queue but they have been drinking too much and are refused entry. Humiliated, they start shouting racist obscenities at the door staff. Another man sporting two ear-rings and a crew-cut starts taunting one bouncer, lunging forward to kiss him on the lips. The level of abuse escalates but Richard and his colleagues do not flinch.

Eventually the rejected trouble-makers shuffle off into the night, their insults getting bolder as they retreat.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?