A York door supervisor could soon be seriously hurt unless they get better protection.
That’s the message from two door staff with more than 20 years of experience between them.
Jay Low and Dan Fairclough told YorkMix that door supervisors in York city centre are being left dangerously vulnerable.
And they are calling on North Yorkshire Police and City of York Council to do more to protect their safety.
Jay said they are subject to regular verbal abuse and worse from a minority of people on a night out who see them as targets.
“You get pushed, or you get punched. You get spat at. If somebody did that to a police officer they’d get arrested straight away. Where’s our protection?” asked Jay.
“A vulnerable door supervisor could be seriously injured.”
City radio problems
He said many venues issue door staff with a city radio – but when they use it to call for help, “we get told we’ve got to ring it in on the phone,” Jay said.
“How can you ring in an incident when you’re rolling about on the floor with somebody, for instance? So what is the point in having a city radio at all?”
Jay and Dan both said that the camera room – the City of York Council-run CCTV system – sometimes fails to dispatch help to door staff who need it.
It means door supervisors have been left to deal with escalating incidents without back-up – and their responses in such an exposed situation can have consequences for their career.
“Two of my colleagues have lost their licenses for doing their job. And I think it’s bang out of order,” said Jay.
Dan said: “Stuff happens so fast and you have split seconds to work out how to deal with it.”
Jay agreed: “You’re always assessing potential customers walking up to your door. I’ve been doing this job long enough that I can tell whether I want a person in my venue or not.
“Ninety per cent of incidents happen because you’re refusing entry. A lot of the time it’s loads of verbal and they won’t walk away. Sometimes they do get aggressive.”
He pointed out that people couldn’t enjoy a night out in York without door staff.
‘We need help’
Door supervisors are licensed through the Security Industry Authority (SIA). Jay says there isn’t even a phone line to contact the SIA – and that the response to online queries is often delayed.
Jay said: “We are trying to get a meeting with the police and the licensing officers to make our views clear. That is what we want more than anything. We want them to listen to us.
“Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great night out in York. And most of the time I feel that we do a good job – and customers and staff are safe.
“It’s just that odd time where you get incidents and we’re not getting the help we need. I know the police are busy, and they do a fantastic job. But we need help as well.”
Dan said in some incidents involving door staff, “the police don’t come and talk to us to get our side of what happened” – but that they should be working together to protect the public.
Another key concern is that some venues have more than one entrance, but only employ one door supervisor, leaving them particularly vulnerable. Jay would like either the SIA or licensing officers to make it compulsory that there is a door supervision for each entrance.
What the police say
A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “We have always worked closely with licensees and their door staff.
“Local officers are looking to regularly engage with licensed premises and their staff in order to improve relationships and working practices.
“In addition, our licencing team have agreed to meet with door staff to establish exactly why they feel they are not supported and look to agree a way forward – taking into account the demand on both agencies.
“We have made arrests for assaults on door staff and the vast majority of them behave very professionally and are co-operative with police officers. Sadly, however, that is not always the case and this also needs to be addressed so confidence on both sides can be developed.”
What the council say
Matt Boxall, Head of Public Protection at City of York Council, said: “The role of door staff is critical in helping to keep customers and staff safe, and their work helps to support York’s vibrant night-time economy.
“We are aware of their concerns, and our Licensing Team is very happy to have a conversation to discuss them further.
“The council has just recruited two additional enforcement officers to work on Friday and Saturday evenings. This will help ensure that there is more support available to licensed premises and taxis in the city centre at some of the busiest times.”