BAR and nightclub operators want to see greater enforcement of – and emphasis placed on – the ‘fit and proper’ aspect of holding a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence.
The calls came after an incident at a nightclub in which the in-house stewards are said to have staged a walk-out while the venue was trading following a disagreement over a staff appointment. The venue was able to quickly draft in a replacement team of stewards, with police officers assisting in the interim.
But the incident has sparked wider concerns in the trade over the level of awareness among stewards about their responsibilities, prompting calls for the ‘duty of care’ expected from stewards to form a central part of the training – and for there to be greater enforcement of the ‘fit and proper’ condition by the SIA.
Anyone applying for an SIA licence faces a number of checks, including identity, training and criminal record; the organisation’s licensing criteria states that a licence may be revoked “if we hold information…which indicates you are not a fit and proper person to hold a licence”.
Speaking at the trade police forum earlier this month, forum chair Donald MacLeod said “procedures must be tightened up” – a call that was backed by other operators and the SLTA at the meeting.
“Fit and proper in the SIA sense seems to be based on disclosures and criminality, not health and safety and duty of care to the people in the building; it doesn’t seem to take in whether the person is fit and proper to hold the licence and fulfil the responsibilities that go with that,” said MacLeod. “I’m not saying it’s not part of the training, I just don’t think it is treated seriously enough and given equal prominence.
“Stewards are trained on things like conflict management, measured response, drink and drugs awareness, being vigilant and aware for signs of trouble, but there’s no mention of the steward’s duty of care – that they are the first respondents, there to protect the staff and those within the building; that they have a duty of care to the building and the people in it over and above anything else.
“There should be clear mention in the training that it’s not a badge for life, it’s a badge for saving lives.
“An incident like this compromises safety but also highlights the SIA failings, and these are serious flaws which raise wider concerns; to be so irresponsible is a dereliction of duty and should, in my view, mean the instant loss of the badge as you’ve shown that you’re not fit and proper to wear it.
“I would like to see the SIA prioritise stewards’ responsibilities and their duty of care; that stewards know when they arrive at work they have a responsibility to everyone in that building – that they are on the front line.”
A spokeswoman for the SIA said: “In relation to the ‘fit and proper’ criteria, this is the standard an individual needs to meet to get a licence. We have published this criteria in our Get Licensed document. It outlines that to qualify for an SIA licence to operate in any of the front line licensable activities listed, an applicant must be aged 18 or over; they will also need to pass an identity check, a criminal record check, a right to work check and have achieved the appropriate SIA-approved training qualification.
“In all cases, we may also need to consider other information as described in the ‘other criteria’ section; the list of other factors we consider is also available on our website.”