Nightclub bosses have warned the public that a shortage of bouncers could be a threat to the safety of partygoers.
The Night Time Industry Association (NTIA) have claimed that bouncers have been quitting the industry during the coronavirus pandemic and as a result staffing levels are 70% under what they would usually be.
Additionally, they cite the impact of Brexit on the labour market and the lack of available EU workers as reasons for the shortage.
Since the start of the pandemic, it is believed that around one-in-five nightlife businesses have been forced to close.
Some have also had to cut their opening hours due to being unable to get the required security staff.
The NTIA have asked the government for help. In response, the government have said it is helping people “retrain, build new skills and get back into work to help fill vacancies”.
NTIA CEO Michael Kill said: “We carried out a survey a few months ago which found that security resource in the sector was only at 70%, and I am afraid that the situation has only deteriorated further since then.”
Kill added, stressing the importance of bouncers to bars and clubs: “Door security staff shortages in the night time economy are becoming critical.”
He then outlined the role that bouncers play in protecting the public: “Whether it is through acting as a first line of defence against a terrorist attack, or intervening to break up violent incidents, licensed security staff are fundamental to public safety.”
He concluded by saying that the bouncer shortages were “beginning to put the public in real jeopardy”.
Tom Robinson, who runs ESP Security Solutions and also works as a bouncer himself, also addressed the importance of bouncers to the nightlife industry when talking to BBC Radio One: “We’re stopping drugging, alcohol being bought from outside. It’s not just ‘you’re not wearing trainers you’re not coming in’, it’s about creating a safe and secure environment for those guys to go in.”
He also warned that without the right amount of staff then venues would be forced to close and Christmas parties would be at risk: “If we don’t have the staff, the venues won’t be able to open – it says on the licence given to venues how many staff they need to open safely, if they have got them they need to shut. Public safety is paramount.”
For the nightlife security industry, staffing levels increase around 30% for the Christmas period and Robinson says he will have to find those extra staff in order to keep venues open.
The NTIA have called on the government to start “funding training initiatives, streamlining new training requirements, or tackling shortages through legislation”.
They have also asked the government to legislate for temporary visas for EU workers to fill the shortage.