Showing the Door to Road Bouncers; the Twilight World of the Security Industry Faces Tough New Regulations from Next April. Evening Mail Investigations Editor BORIS WORRALL Reports on the Shake-Up Facing Birmingham's Clubs and Bars
Worrall, Boris, Birmingham Evening Mail (England)
NIGHTCLUB doormen in Birmingham are to be licensed by the city council from next year, with fees and police checks.
It comes amid mounting concern and the results of a swoop on 58 clubs and pubs in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield.
More than 90 per cent of the venues visited by the city's trading standards officers failed on at least one of the six council criteria designed to regulate doormen.
Just seven of the clubs were able to verify the identity of all of the doormen working that night and at all but 16 nightspots, door staff were not wearing their ID badges.
The venues have now been warned that failing future spot checks could see them prosecuted or losing their public entertainments licence.
Currently, anybody can work as a doorman, but venues are asked to keep lists of who is on duty. Industry insiders claim the emergence of 'rogue' firms means the current rules are largely ineffective.
Now, under proposals due to be approved by the city's licensing committee later this month, all doormen will have to register with the council from April 1 and undergo council-approved training courses.
They will also have police checks for serious convictions and have their licences reviewed annually. The cost of joining and annual renewal fees has yet to be set.
Any pubs and clubs who use unregistered door staff risk prosecution or the loss of their licences. All staff will have to wear a council-issued ID photocard.
Licensing chairman Coun Bryan Nott said: 'If these proposals go ahead we believe they will not only improve the standards of door supervisors but will also help to provide a safer and more friendly environment in which the public can be entertained.'
The scheme will be similar to that imposed on taxi drivers, with a committee ruling on whether people with convictions are suitable. There will be an appeals procedure.
The proposals have been drawn up after discussions with West Midlands Police and club and pub operators in the city.
It follows growing concern about the industry. Two weeks ago a door security firm in Water Street was damaged by a bomb planted amid claims of a 'turf war'.
Alan Sartori, owner of Ronnie Scott's bar and chairman of the city's Clubwatch scheme, says the lack of regulation has given rogue security firms a free reign in the city.
'There has to be some policy on regulation, whether it is voluntary or mandatory. I do feel it is time that these rogue security firms need bringing to heel.
'Every other business in the country is answerable to someone and bona fida companies, which are the vast majority, have absolutely nothing to fear.
'It is easier to set up a security firm than a restaurant. I have no doubt that drugs are being sold with the knowledge of some people in the industry. In every business there are rogues and vagabonds, even though the majority of people are honest.
'We set our own standards and make people meet them. If they don't then you have to ask why. I will only have people if I know who they are - there are some violent criminals out there on the doors.'
THERE are more than 20 clubs and late-night bars in Birmingham city centre, with dozens more in the suburbs. There are about 25 door security firms working in the city. Business is tight.
There is no doubt that it is a tough trade. Firms compete for the key contracts which can make or break them, cutting their own costs to the bone in a business with notoriously small profit margins. …