Bouncers need 'special training', policeman says

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The Independent Online

Door staff at pubs and clubs - better known as "bouncers" - should be subject to a national registration and training scheme, according to a leading police expert.

Door staff at pubs and clubs - better known as "bouncers" - should be subject to a national registration and training scheme, according to a leading police expert.

PC Andy Walker, of the Humberside Police, ismaking 10 recommendations today for cleaning up the poor image of the door security industry. The main proposal is to replace the current hotchpotch of initiatives for reform with a scheme covering the whole country.

The proposal follows growing concerns about the regulation of security firms that supply doormen to nightclubs across Britain. It is estimated that by the end of 2001 there will be more bouncers than policemen on the streets of Britain's main cities. In recent weeks, a spate of particularly nasty incidents has caused further concerns. Charing Cross police are investigating the beating of two patrons by a bouncer at a Leicester Square club. One man has a fractured skull.

In another case, a doorman at a south-west London club was accused of raping an 18-year-old woman.In court last month, it was also revealed that a doorman at a Guildford club had refused re-entry to a woman without telling her friends. She was then abducted by a man and murdered.

But of greatest concern is the "licensing" of the drug trade in clubs by some doorsecurity companies closely linked to organised crime.

PC Walker proposes that criminals and people involved in the drugs trade would be weeded out and banned from door-security jobs.

Applicants would undergo training before qualifying as a door supervisor. Successful applicants would be given a badge to wear.

A former doorman, "Mike", from Bournemouth, said a national scheme would help. "But I don't agree with banning everybody with a criminal conviction. You need someone who has street experience and the ability to read a physical situation and defuse it. No one can teach you that."

He favoured the professionalisation of the door industry. "I hope that we will now see pubs and clubs getting proper insurance. You get as little as £40 a night on pub door. If you get stabbed and can't work again, who is going to look after you?"

The Home Office is considering hundreds of responses to a White Paper on the security industry launched last March.

Despite research showing that a high percentage of doormen have convictions for violence there is no timetable for passing a new law.

Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat MP for Kingston and Surbiton, has been pressing the Government to accelerate regulation. "The Government needs to realise this should be a priority," he said.

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