The Law and Arrest Part 2

Security Operatives Power of Arrest

Following on from the previous article on this subject I want to go a bit further into the topic of power of arrest. In the last article we covered some areas including the legality of arrest. The basis for arrest and some legislative areas. In this article I’m want to develop that a little. I want to talk in this article about the duty of care element of arrest, dealing with minors, and the use of force in effecting an arrest. There has been a huge amount of comments and questions from the first article and I’m going to do my best to make sure that they are all answered here as well. Lastly to say that this article was only ever meant to be an overview of the legal position of arrest and not a how to guide. Some of the feedback has been around more practical points of detection models etc. and I’ll cover that in a different article. Of course I need to finish with the usual disclaimer. I’m not a legal expert and dont claim to be a solicitor. I’m a security professional with a lot of years of experience and education in the sector and I spend a lot of my time researching teaching and testing this stuff in the real world. Don’t just take my word for this stuff. Go research it yourself.

Continue reading “The Law and Arrest Part 2”

Security Notebooks: A data goldmine

Security Operatives notebook as a privacy risk

This week is a bit of an eye opener for many people. For decades security operatives have carried and used notebooks as a staple part of their equipment. I myself still use one and strongly believe in them as an excellent tool. In fact I published a blog and short video on the subject recently. However we must also recognise that times change and we need to be constantly adapting to ensure we are complying with not only new legislation but the demands society place on us as service providers. Data and privacy are now the most valuable commodity that people possess and one which security operatives must guard for the public with as much care as they would products, property or persons in their care. Recently I wrote to the data protection commissioner with a number of queries about the data we collect in our notebooks. The answers are detailed below and throw up some serious questions for security operatives and for employers. It doesn’t mean the end of the security notebook but it does mean we need some more security around the data we collect in them.

Continue reading “Security Notebooks: A data goldmine”

Stress in the Security Sector

Self care in a high stress security sector

For this weeks article I want to discuss an area that we can all suffer from but don’t like to admit it. It’s something that has just been accepted as a fact of life in the industry but which has led to more incidents, accidents, job losses and resignations than any other factor I’ve come across. It’s ever present and driven by the environment we work in. We are surrounded by risk factors contributing to its development, actively resisting measures to manage it and we brush off its effects as a bad day, bad week or bad job. In reality we suffer on without realising the impact this hidden issue has on our skills, our mood, our health and our relationships inside and outside of work.

Today we are going to talk about STRESS. Continue reading “Stress in the Security Sector”

Mindfulness for Security Operatives

I’ve thought long and hard about writing this article. There’s probably a large proportion of people who will read the subject line and not read any further. To those of you who have gotten this far please stick with me.

Mindfulness was a subject that I scoffed at when I was introduced to it many years ago. I like many of you had visions of Buddhist monks and endless hours of chanting. I was first introduced to mindfulness by an old martial arts instructor about 18 years ago. It was taught to me as a method to control breathing and relax during sparring sessions. At first I thought it was absolute craziness but I saw my instructor roll and spar numerous opponents without wheezing while I was gasping after a few rounds. Once I started taking it a little more serious I found myself improving not just in my martial arts but in everyday life as well.

So, what is mindfulness? For me, mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts, your emotions and your physical conditions. Being aware of these things not only helps you focus and relax but gives you much more control over them in a subtle way.

A few myths and a reality

Myth 1: Mindfulness is a Zen like calm only achieved by monks.

Reality: Mindfulness can be practiced by anybody. It isn’t about being ultra-calm (although calmness is a by product). It is simply about being aware of your emotions and having control over your emotional state.

Myth 2: You need to sit and chant for hours to meditate

Reality: What’s being described here is meditation as a practice of mindfulness. This can be done in as little time as you wish and you can sit in absolute silence to do it. It can be done in 30 seconds or 30 minutes. I recommend 10 minutes to start. (Surely you have 10 minutes to sit in silence)

 

Myth 3: You need to sit cross legged on a carpet while being mindful.

Reality: You can sit, stand, walk, run, lift weights while being mindful. It can be practiced on any couch, chair, car or floor you want. I’ve meditated on buses, trains, gym changing rooms and cars.

 

Myth 4: It doesn’t work anyway so waste your time.

Reality: I believe it works. And so, do some of the most successful people in the world. It was practiced by Shaolin warrior monks, Chinese king Fu masters, and samurai warriors. In more modern times breathing control is practised by people such as Horion and Rickson Gracie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Special forces soldiers, the Russian art of Systema and many others.

 

So, what has this got to do with working in security you might ask. Well nothing and plenty to be honest. There are countless security operatives out there who get by just fine without it. There are also countless of us out there who would like to be better able to focus, to relax or to control our emotions or our physical responses. If you could spend 10 minutes before work making yourself feel more energised, more alert, more focussed and less likely to get stressed would you think it was worthwhile?

Practical applications

It doesn’t need to be the stereotypical cross legged chanting monk-like image you have in your head. Sit down for 10 minutes before work in a quiet place. Take some deep breaths. Close your eyes and relax. If you struggle to sit still for 10 minutes there are amazing free apps out there like Headspace which talk you through the whole process. Don’t worry if you find your mind straying for most of the time. It gets easier. I used to do this most nights for 10 minutes in the car before going into work. I can honestly say it made a huge difference to me. It made me much calmer, more relaxed and more alert. I used to consider it getting my work mindset in place and leaving all the emotional and physical baggage of the day behind.

Even on those nights where it was wet, miserable and violent I found myself better able to manage my mood, my temper and my concentration (most of the time). During violent encounters, it helped me to detach from the fear and anger of the encounter and respond more effectively and controlled which I have no doubt kept me and my team safer.

The main benefit I got from it though wasn’t in these difficult moments I’ve described above. The main benefit I found was in dealing with the aftermath of these difficult moments. The stress and adrenaline you feel after a conflict or a difficult situation. Being relaxed and mindful helped me rationalise the stressful after effects of violence and the sometimes difficult moments of personal abuse or threats. This is now more commonly known as resilience (I’ll do another full article on this topic) but it is just another positive by product of mindfulness. If any of you have ever come home from work feeling down, second guessing your words or your actions in a conflict situation or worrying about the consequences of a violent encounter then this will help. It helped me manage that horrible feeling after conflict of adrenaline being dumped through the system.

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One of the most common questions asked by people new to mindfulness is “how will I know it’s working”?

The truthful answer is that generally you won’t. Usually the positive control, awareness and behaviours associated with mindfulness will be noticed by other people around you before you notice them yourself. Others notice that your calmer under stress, more controlled, more aware and when they begin to comment on it you realise it personally the benefits are already obvious to others.

zappa-photo

I usually finish off these articles with a summary and one of two action points for the people who have taken the time to read the entire article. On this occasion that approach is incredibly difficult as mindfulness is a very subjective area. If I could suggest 2 things for you to try out over the next week:

  1. Take 10 minutes before work each day to sit down by yourself. Close your eyes, sit in silence and just breathe in and out. It’s isn’t going to hurt and it may help. (I highly recommend the free Headspace app for this.)
  2. After you finish work. Sit down for 5 minutes and do the same. Look forward to getting home to your family, your gym, your friends or your bed and leave all the stress of work behind you.

If you have stuck with me to the end I thank you and I ask you to try these things. If it helps you in any way to become better at your job or personally then that’s great. If it’s not for you then thank you for trying at least. By simply trying you have shown your dedication to improving yourself as a person and a professional and for that I commend you.

I’ll leave you with the words of George S Patton below. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.

patton-photo

For more information on the Heapspace app I mentioned go to:

Www.headspace.com 

Safeguarding: A new era in nightclub security

The night time economy by its very nature carries a large amount of inherent risk to the employees working within it. Not many roles have been at the coal face and dealt with these risks as much as the door supervisor. For many years we in the security industry have focused on the risks and dangers that we face as door supervisors and came up with successful ways of mitigating and reducing these risks as individuals and as an industry.

 

What is often forgotten is the inherent risks that the general public face in the night time economy. We all know about the culture of male on male violence, lack of respect for the service industry, the emergency services, binge drinking and drug use. What often gets left out of the equation are the vulnerable in society. Those who go out into the night-time economy and become victims of crime or those in society who seek to cause damage or destruction. Those who go out with the best of intentions to have a good time and through a variety of reasons end up in a condition where they aren’t in a fit state to keep themselves safe. For many years this was their own problem and the default response was ejection from the venue and after that they could figure it out themselves. The NOT MY PROBLEM era went on for decades.

 

Thankfully the door security industry seems to be changing approach in this respect. Venues and door supervisors are changing with the times and the word safeguarding has begun to make an appearance in security procedures. The attitude towards people who require safeguarding is changing from one of enforcement to one of welfare. We can only hope that this new era can continue and that more venues begin to implement safeguarding and welfare procedures for those in need. As I have said many times before, we cannot expect to work in a venue whose sole method of making a profit is to sell a person a mind altering chemical and then expect to throw our hands up and say it isn’t our fault when the person is affected by the chemical.

 

In this article I would like to take a look at the concept of safeguarding in a nightclub environment. What is it? Who needs it? What can we do to make sure it works?

 

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding put simply is putting in place policies, procedures, training and facilities to ensure that vulnerable persons are kept safe from harm when in our care. It’s about making sure that those who need help or assistance get it.

 

Who needs safeguarding?

Any person can become in need of safeguarding. Those in need are generally referred to as vulnerable persons (although this term is largely used in the care sector). Anybody can become vulnerable given the right circumstances and the night time economy can be a contributing factor to these circumstances.

A patron could be referred to as a vulnerable person through a variety of circumstances such as:

  • Over consumption of alcohol
  • Drug misuse
  • Age (underage)
  • Isolation (from friends)
  • Disability
  • Mental health issues

A person may require safeguarding due to any single one of the above factors or a combination of a number. A person in any of these circumstances may become vulnerable to:

  • Medical illness
  • Physical attack
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Emotional abuse
  • Suicide or self-harm

From a moral point of view I know that no door supervisor would like to think that any of the above could happen on their watch but we are so busy managing risk around the important stuff like violence and aggression towards ourselves that we tend to overlook the small stuff like safeguarding customers who have overconsumed alcohol.

 

Why do we need safeguarding in nightclubs?

First answer is easy. Because it’s the right thing to do. Looking after our patrons regardless of who they are is the right thing to do.

 

Secondly, because believe it or not we have a duty to. Regardless of whether a patron is drunk, on drugs or underage we have a duty to protect them from harm. That includes providing a reasonably safe place for them while they are on the premises and to the best of our ability ensuring that no harm comes to them as a result of them having  being on the premises (even after they leave). That’s a lot of responsibility for the venue and that responsibility will rest primarily in the hands of the door supervisors.

 

What can nightclubs do?

The first and most basic thing that should be put in place is a policy. A policy that outlines how we look after vulnerable people. It should detail what arrangements we have in place to prevent people getting into vulnerable conditions and what additional measures we can put in place to protect those in our premises who are already vulnerable.

 

Once a policy is written the next step is to make sure everybody knows about it especially the security team. The security team need to know how they are expected to treat people who are intoxicated or have taken drugs and even underage patrons.

 

How far do we need to go?

As we all know from a legal point of view how far our duty of care extends will be entirely at the whim of a judge who will evaluate whether the arrangements we put in place are reasonable in the circumstances. If we think about it logically though anything is better than nothing. From a practical point of view safeguarding is satisfying ourselves to a reasonable level that every patron on the premises is safe and every patron leaving is capable of getting to the next place of safety in their present condition.

 

Practical procedures

I’m speaking from experience here. I have written dozens of safeguarding procedures for night time venues and implemented safeguarding procedures operationally at a number of venues also. Even with that experience though it can feel like walking a tightrope sometimes. The balancing act between safeguarding the person’s welfare and their freedom of movement and maintaining a certain level of personal responsibility can be difficult at times.

 

This first point requires a bit of a culture change for door supervisors. Nobody should be simply ejected for over intoxication. I can almost hear the clicks of this article being closed by some people at this point but it’s true. The person has gotten into this condition in our venue and simply ejecting them is not sufficient to fulfil our duty of care. Yes, they need to be escorted to the door, but every patron who is being removed due to intoxication should be assessed with a simple conversation. If a person is incoherent, unable to walk, unable to speak then they need safeguarding and shouldn’t be allowed to leave. I can hear people now asking what should we do. We can do lots of little things. Take them to first aid (now more commonly being referred to as medical and welfare). Have a first aider talk to them for a few minutes. Try find some friends they came with. Get some information from them that can assist you getting them home. Worst case scenario might mean getting them an ambulance. This is obviously time consuming and troublesome but so is checking fire exits and dealing with conflict and we do those for health and safety reasons every single night.

 

Let’s take another scenario. A young Lady in a very intoxicated state being led from a venue by a man (not to differentiate between the genders but I’ve found that this is the more common situation). This could be a boyfriend assisting with a drunk girlfriend or it could be a complete stranger. A lot of people would say we don’t have the right to do anything. Its none of our business. Are we seriously convincing ourselves that we can’t ask 2 or 3 questions to satisfy ourselves that this lady is safe? What’s the worst that could happen if I do? I offend a helpful boyfriend, I apologise for being wrong and they leave. Now have a think about the potential consequence if I don’t do anything and it was a complete stranger. At the very least we can ask the lady if she knows the man. If she can’t answer, ask him who he is and who she is. I always like to double check by asking him to take out his phone and call hers. Worst case scenario might be that you have to tell him she isn’t leaving until first aid checks her over. She has the right to leave any time she chooses. Nothing in law gives him the right to take her away.

 

Scenario number 3. A person leaving the nightclub in a very upset state, crying and talking about having enough. It could be a person having a dramatic argument with a friend inside or it could be a genuine case of a person in a vulnerable state of mind who is at risk of harming themselves. How do we know? Put simply we don’t know unless we ask. One thing I will add here is that I strongly believe that every door supervisor working inside or outside of a venue should take a suicide awareness course. These are short and often free courses which every door supervisor can benefit from. They teach really practical steps for approaching situations like this.  Back to the scenario though and the first thing to do is ask the most basic questions. Are they ok? What did they mean? How do they plan to get home? Do you have a friend we can call for you? Can we call you a taxi? It may all turn out to be nothing or you may save a life.

mkcc50bs

The above 3 scenarios might sound like a lot of extra work but realistically what does it take. A few minutes of your time in reality. Is that too much to ask to keep your customers safe?

 

Summary

So let’s bring all of this together into an actionable list of small things that you can do as a venue and as an individual to promote safeguarding of your customers.

  1. Write a policy on your approach to safeguarding
  2. Let all of your staff know what is expected of them.
  3. Encourage employees to ask the questions around safeguarding. Remember that the risk of asking is far less than the risk of not asking.
  4. Provide your staff with training in responsible service of alcohol to prevent over service.
  5. Provide your staff with training in recognising the risks of suicide and self-harm.
  6. Change the use of your first aid area to an overall safety and welfare area.

 

These tasks don’t take much time, cost hardly anything and don’t require lots of ongoing maintenance. But they do increase your customer service, enhance your reputation and reduce your liability should something happen. But most of all it’s the right thing to do and it could save a life.I”ll finish this articles with one of my favourites quotes  below. I think it sums up door security very well in a simple sentence. Who knows maybe Plato was a doorman back in the day.

” Be Kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle” – Plato