Police officers moonlight as nightclub bouncers

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POLICE AND prison officers are moonlighting as bouncers in pubs and nightclubs, prompting fears that they could be corrupted by criminal drugs gangs.

The finding comes in a Home Office study aimed at drawing up a national registration scheme for door supervisors in England and Wales. The study has found police officers working on doors in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester and the Home Counties. A team of police bouncers was found to have been looking for work as security guards at the Glastonbury festival in Somerset and other pop festivals last summer.

A network of prison officers from Merseyside has been working the doors of pubs and clubs in Liverpool. Another prison officer, based outside London, is being investigated for running a company supplying bouncers while he was on sick leave from the Prison Service.

Chief constables will be concerned about officers being compromised by the drugs gangs which operate in many clubs. They may also have to take part in their official capacity in day-time raids on venues which they work at in the evenings.

The moonlighting was uncovered by Constable Andy Smith, who was commissioned by the Home Office's Police Research Group, to carry out a year-long study of the country's door supervisors. His report will be presented to the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers next month.

According to PC Smith, who works for Humberside Police, officers are taking a huge risk working for clubs. He said: "Police officers cannot moonlight in licensed premises. There are two dangers: they might mix with criminals and they might get injured." He said any officer who was caught would face being disciplined.

PC Smith said the motivation was purely financial. "Police officers are not as well paid as everybody thinks. They have got their mortgages and kids." Some clubs will pay pounds 150 for two weekend shifts," he said.

Many of the prison officers working doors in the North-west had a shared interest in body-building and anabolic steroids. One prison source said: "The problems began when police were called to a club after a fight and found that all the bouncers involved were prison officers. One prison officer got charged with hitting someone with a chair."

According to PC Smith, the registration of Britain's 100,000 door staff is a haphazard and uneven business. Only half the country is covered by such schemes. Typically, a registration badge will cost around pounds 80 for three years.

Some door staff have to hold up to 11 separate registration badges because of the varying requirements of different local authorities.