Wanted: Female graduates for nightclub doors

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The Independent Online

Female university graduates are being recruited as door staff in a new national drive to rid Britain's bouncers of their thuggish image.

Female university graduates are being recruited as door staff in a new national drive to rid Britain's bouncers of their thuggish image.

The move, backed by the British Institute of Innkeeping, is seen as crucial in safeguarding Government plans to transform Britain's city centres into 24-hour cafe societies.

Research by the University of Durham found a new proliferation of late-night bars in town centres created battlegrounds for drunken violence where police resources are overstretched and bouncers uphold the rule of law.

Council officials in Bourne- mouth believe the deployment of female door staff is an effective tool in creating a less confrontational atmosphere. David Wordley, the council's environmental health manager for public safety, said: "It is likely a female has an advantage over a male in dealing with aggressive male behaviour."

Cathie Smith, the qualifications manager for the Institute of Innkeeping, said: "With the growth of the night-time economy, door supervisors are becoming the ambassadors for the venue. The whole tenor of the evening is set by the door supervisor." All Bournemouth bouncers must undergo a 16-hour training programme.

The course director, Peter Boucher, said women were excellent at door work because they were less susceptible to being drawn into escalating situations, were non-confrontational and good at listening. He said customer care and social skills were the most important parts of door work.

Mr Boucher, a former Royal Marine, said one in five of the training scheme's participants were now women.

When Emily Feller moved to Bournemouth to take up a university course in television and video production she hardly expected to find herself wearing the bouncer's bow-tie and working the busy doors of the Old Fire Station nightclub.

Having taken a job behind a bar her interest in bouncing began only after she took up boxing to keep fit.

"I suddenly felt more physically confident," she said. "So I thought I would go into [door] work because it is better paid." Ms Feller, who is 22 and 6ft 1in, said her first night's work was "unbelievably daunting" because you "think that everybody is looking at you".

She said: "At first, I refused to tell my friends where I was working because for the first time in my life I would be wearing a suit. But when I told them they thought it was a good thing. They realise I have achieved something."

The Durham report - called Bouncers: The Art and Economics of Intimidation - found that scars, muscles and a hardman reputation were considered pre-requisites of the job.

Ms Feller added: "You do have to be able to back up the other people in your crew from a physical point of view."