Expert slams lack of training
AN EXPERT on the "appropriate force" Queensland bouncers should use says training standards must be lifted before a patron is seriously injured.
Bill Turner, a tactical communication and operational safety expert with Best Practice Regulatory Services, says inexperienced security guards are being let down by a system that puts them in challenging situations without the proper skills and training.
Low pay and the prospect of dealing with unruly drunks create a high turnover of security staff.
And even once they have their licences to work in security, a severe lack of senior supervision and ongoing training means bouncers run into trouble.
"It's very, very difficult work," Mr Turner said.
"If you look at a crowd controller in the pub, they are dealing with people who are often under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
"People like that are very difficult to deal with."
Mr Turner was an inspector with the Queensland Police Service in a career that spanned 41 years in the United Kingdom and Australia.
He played an integral role in the design, development and delivery of leading programs, including the national police guidelines regarding the "use of force".
In the early 1990s he was part of the team that developed the first training standards for security staff licences.
Mr Turner said he was never surprised to hear of allegations of over-zealous security guards assaulting drunk patrons.
The situation was exacerbated by the types of crowds late-night bouncers were faced with: incoherent party people intoxicated from alcohol or drugs.
"People talk about you need to be able to talk them down. Yes, that's good, but are they willing to listen to you?" Mr Turner said.
"Often when people are angry they send lots of messages but they don't like to receive messages."
He said most industries, including Queensland Police, had ongoing training to improve and update the skills of staff.
That sort of training was not regulated in the security industry.
Security officers undergo basic training but there is no requirement for up-skilling or retraining.
Mr Turner said the security industry had a fluid workforce, with most bouncers joining the profession for a short time.
The lack of longevity in staff resulted in a lack of senior staff to supervise inexperienced bouncers.
"They have basic knowledge and understanding (of crowd control), but I think a lot of them could be improved with regular in-service training," Mr Turner said.
"I think that's the big problem: there's no ongoing training."
He said the State Government needed to adopt stringent requirements of ongoing training as a policy.
He said it was a difficult issue because extra training meant higher costs for security companies and subsequently higher costs to venues that hired the crowd controllers.
"It doesn't surprise me and I think (allegations of over-zealous security guards) has always been an issue," Mr Turner said.
"But you've got to look at all sides of the picture and one side is look at who they're dealing with.
"Look at the difficulties of dealing with those sorts of people.
"If you were an inexperienced person who doesn't have the right attitude to deal with those situations you could make mistakes.
"The last thing you want to hear about is innocent people being injured and people being charged or taken to court because of being over-zealous.
"Safety's an important thing. Parents want to have their children be able to go out and have fun in a safe environment."
Mr Turner is still called on by the Queensland Police Service.