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Security Measures in Licensed Venues

Customer Protection

For licensed premises, the safety and security of staff and patrons is paramount to an ongoing successful operation. With the increasing challenges that bars, clubs, restaurants and other on-license venues face, implementing robust security measures is more crucial than ever. This month we delve into effective strategies, focusing on security staff, incident response, and patrolling, to ensure that your establishment not only complies with the law but also provides a safe environment for everyone.

Security Staff

SIA licensed security staff can be an asset to any premises if utilised effectively and with the safety of patrons and staff as their focus. The presence of security staff can act as a proactive deterrent to anyone intent on causing issues within your premises, and provides an active response should an incident occur.

Clearly branded uniforms including identity badges help to promote a sense of team spirit and belonging as well as enabling patrons to quickly and easily identify staff members. In the event of an incident, particularly in large premises, patrons are also able to recognise staff who can assist.

For security staff in particular, SIA staff should be easily identifiable by their clothing and by wearing their SIA licence in a position which is visible to all. In an unexpected situation which, for example, requires police attendance, it is critical that police can easily identify security staff.

It is recommended that all of your security staff are appropriately trained and receive regular refresher training in areas such as:

  • Search techniques
  • Conflict management
  • Physical restraint techniques
  • The use of body worn video
  • The use of radios for communication

Consider the training your security staff undergo and communication with them across the venue –

  • Do they understand their role?
  • Do you have an audit trail of training, with particular relevance to recognising vulnerabilities, drugs misuse, preventing incidents, effective bystander intervention, and how to respond to incidents of varying severity?
  • If an emergency situation arises, do you have a plan and do staff know their role in this?
  • Do they know your venue age verification/drugs/female and child safety/dispersal/other relevant policies? (Free policy templates are available within Licensing SAVI)
  • Will they be notified and are they able to respond if emergency or other exits are opened?

It is strongly recommended that there is a contingency plan in place which will mitigate the effect of unplanned large queues developing. A contingency plan will help manage the experience of customers, improving customer experience and satisfaction, as well as preventing disorder and keeping those in the queue safe. Having a plan can also demonstrate the steps you have taken to prevent nuisance to the public caused by your queue and help to show the responsible authorities that you run your venue responsibly.

Where door supervisors and/or stewards are to be used, make sure that there is sufficient space in the doorway for them to operate safely, without causing congestion. Preferably, this area should be well-lit, covered by CCTV and have good surveillance. This is essential where the door supervisors have to operate equipment such as an ID scanner or have to count those going in and out to monitor occupancy levels.

Where practicable, it is recommended that both male and female SIA registered staff are employed to facilitate the effective and dignified searching of patrons.

Male door supervisors may ask female customers to empty the contents of their handbags or pockets but otherwise should not carry out a personal search. Female door supervisors should be used in such circumstances and vice versa.

If your venue operates a search policy and has transgender customers, allow the customer to choose whether they want to be searched by a male or female member of staff. It is never acceptable to search someone to find out their gender.

Incident Response

An Emergency Management Plan (EMP) is a course of action developed to mitigate the damage of potential events that could endanger a venue’s ability to function. Such a plan should include measures that provide for the safety of staff and patrons and, if possible, property and facilities. It is vital that all members of staff are aware of the existence of such a plan and know how to apply it should the need arise.

For venues which host large events, you should consult with and, where necessary, employ a qualified event safety manager/safety officer. This person should be familiar with crowd management good practice, all associated safety considerations for large events and contingencies to design out the opportunities for potential vehicle attacks and incidents such as crushing.

Frequently congested areas can be a security and/or an evacuation risk. In areas where crowds form, tempers can fray, which can result in violence. Crowded areas can cause a serious bottleneck in the event of an evacuation of your premises, so consider your venue’s policies and procedures for safe dispersal from these places.

Our Emergency Measures blog contains further information about emergency situations and preparedness, and includes a free downloadable interactive Emergency Measures Checklist. The article includes information on EMPs, emergency exits, fire safety, medical emergencies, counter terrorism and crowd control.

Further information on responding to incidents concerning customer vulnerability can be found here. This includes first aid requirements, responding to acid attacks and identifying drunk patrons and those under the influence of drugs, consensually or otherwise.

Have your staff undertaken crime scene preservation training? Our guide is available to venues which have registered for the Licensing SAVI assessment, in the downloads and resources area.


All staff should be familiar with relevant policies, and trained in recognising and preventing vulnerabilities. This includes keeping themselves, other staff members and patrons safe, as well as ensuring the building and contents are secure and in good working order, so as to not be a risk.

It is imperative that all staff members feel valued and confident to both report issues they find and respond appropriately to issues reported to them relating to security, and that in doing so, their concerns will be acted upon.

It is recommended that security staff proactively monitor all aspects of your operation that have the possibility to generate conflict. This can be between staff and customers or customers with other customers, such as:

  • All entry/exit doors
  • The queue(s)
  • All floor levels
  • The bar(s) and dance floor(s)
  • The smoking area(s)
  • The toilet area(s)
  • Outside beer garden
  • Car parking area(s)

If your venue generates a queue, an appropriate number of door supervisors will be required to control and direct queuing customers. This will assist in preventing the blocking of footways and also allow door staff to conduct age verification checks, to identify intoxicated persons and conduct drug or weapon searches, as appropriate.

The presence of door supervisors can also act as a deterrent to criminals such as pickpockets or drug dealers from targeting your customers, and can help to reduce anti-social behaviour of patrons before entering the premises. It is good practice to appoint a member of door staff to act as a ‘queue monitor’, who will walk up and down the queue to identify people who would not be permitted entry when they arrive at the door due to, for example, their dress or levels of intoxication. This can reduce potential confrontation if patrons are refused entry having queued to enter. 

The security of licensed premises requires a multi-faceted approach, integrating skilled security staff, a proactive incident response strategy, and regular patrolling. By focusing on these key areas, establishments can not only meet their legal obligations but also foster a safe and welcoming environment for their patrons. Remember, security is not just about responding to incidents — it's about creating an atmosphere where they are less likely to occur in the first place.

Further information around customer protection and vulnerability is available within the Licensing SAVI assessment.