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A Personal Approach to Door Supervising

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Part 1 - Basic Door Work

By Ronnie Gamble (c) 2001 2002 2003

Note: This set of articles are being produced and edited on-line.  All input is welcome

Table of Contents Part 1 - Basic Door Work -Subjects

Part 1 -  Basic Door Work





The remainder is now available in 

Door Supervising: The Low Profile Skills

by Ronnie Gamble


(type in Ronnie Gamble)


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Stewards vs Door Supervisors
Where Are DS Employed?
How Dangerous is Door Work?
Basic Skills
First Impressions
Door Supervisors Tasks
Pre-Event Safety and Security
Event Safety and Security
Floor Duties
Observational Skills
Post-Event Safety and Security
Physical Positioning
Good Guy-Bad Guy Routine
Dealing With a Barred Individual
Customers Who Must Leave Early
Body Search Procedures
Basic Radio Procedure
The Bad  and Mad Last Hour
Clearing the Venue Area



The techniques presented in this manual are for public information and research purposes only.

This manual is presented, subject to the following condition.

The author will not be held responsible for either the physiological, psychological or material results of the application of any of the techniques either described or illustrated.


This training manual was compiled with the inexperienced Door Supervisor (DS) in mind. This set of pointers will help them to do a good job on the door. There are many low profile skills required for the normal day-to-day running of a door. These skills need to be learned because they will help to reduce the incidences of infringed 'House Rules', mistakes, misunderstandings and aggressive behaviour.

Door supervisors are primarily tasked to care for and protect all the staff, the patrons and the property at their venue. This can only be achieved by behaving in a manner that defeats aggressive behaviour before it starts. Violence has to be treated like a bomb. When it goes off, anybody standing close will be  hurt. It's the door supervisors main task to quietly defuse potentially dangerous situations without anybody noticing.

When a situation demands the use of reasonable force, you must always apply an effective amount of force. An ineffective or an excessive amount of force will never achieve the desired objective. Always remember, you may have to justify your use of force from either a hospital bed or a jail cell.

Stewards vs Door Supervisors (DS)

Throughout these notes I have included tips for event stewards. This is because DS can also be employed as stewards. Both Stewards and DS are expected to manage, cater and care for the patrons at their event at all times. These roles do place a high demand on the individuals social interaction and communication skills.

Stewards are not usually employed as DS. This is because DS have an edge on stewards, and it is this. DS must have a proven track record for coping with both verbal aggression and physical violence. Not only must they be capable of detecting a potentially aggressive situation they must also be capable of preempting and defusing it. Not everybody has both the physical skill and the moral courage to carry out this onerous task.

Where are DS Employed?

DS are normally expected to be on the door of an event or on the floor. Because of the increasing demands placed on the entertainment industry around the world to provide safe environments for all patrons, the gorilla in the tuxedo has been virtually wiped out. The replacement security model must be a multi skilled person with the health and safety of the patron very much in mind.

Properly trained and qualified DS are in great demand to steward many different events. This includes Race Meetings, Soccer Matches, Rugby Matches, Firework Displays, Rock Concerts, Pop Festivals, Dirt Track Events and Government Committee meetings open to the general public.

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             U2 at Slane 2001                                Boxing Day Football Match 2002

                                          A Day at The Races 2003                  A Day at The Bike Races  2003                                

Each of these events has their own unique set of safety, security and crowd management problems. These problems are beyond the scope of the stereotypical or traditional DS.

The onus is now placed on event organisers to provide a safe environment, as far as reasonably practicable. This means every effort must be made to eliminate the risk of accidents and disasters involving groups of people. The new multi skilled DS that are emerging now have one clear duty. They must be capable of implementing crowd management procedures that are based on the event organisers risk assessment of that event.

How Dangerous is Door Work?

Compared to other occupations, door work is relatively safe when you operate in a professional manner. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (USA,1995) has indicated that homicide accounts for 12% of all deaths in the workplace. Top of the death list is the taxicab service followed by liquor store operatives  and then filling station operatives. Security work is fourth  in line. What the first three occupations have in common is the following,

As a DS your chances of becoming a victim of verbal, physical and sexual abuse are reduced when you take the following preventative measures.


Basic Duties and Skills

Door supervisors are primarily tasked with maintaining the security and safety of the venue. This includes the property, the staff and all the patrons at the venue. 

The basic duties of the DS include:

In order to carry out these basic duties in a professional and non-discriminatory manner, DS should be trained in the following basic skills. Most of the skills referred to here will be covered in more detail later on:


Good preparation well in advance of the event will enabled you to function properly throughout that duty. Remember that your primary duty was to take care of, assist and ensure the safety of the patron and staff at all times. This mind set will keep you in the correct mood to cope with anything that happens. Also consider the view that the last, and never to be forgotten, option to exercise is hitting out. This will help you to cope much better with the day-to-day running of the door and the floor. Instead of having a paranoid outlook to the job, you will develop a more friendly and approachable disposition. Other than the radio, pen and notebook, and your personal set of house keys to let yourself in at 2am, consider the following points in your preparation.

Food   The condemned man or woman must eat a hearty meal to sustain them on their long night vigil. If you are too anxious to eat then you are too anxious to do the job.

Identification   Always carry details of your local GP/MD, Legal Aid, Blood Group, your address and contact numbers of your relatives.

Clothing   Wear clean underwear and clothing. You may have to go to hospital or a police cell later on that evening. Clean clothing will protect you in the event of clothing entering a fresh flesh wound. If the weather is cold, consider wearing black pyjama bottoms below your trousers. If you want to keep your reactions sharp and your body comfortable, then always dress to cope with the weather. Wear shoes with good insulation in order to keep out the cold, as well as a non-slip sole that grips on spilled beer.

Quick Repair Kit   Carry a small flat tin box containing some first aid plasters and a pair of surgical gloves for dealing with incidents involving blood and vomit. Also have pre-threaded needles of black and white thread. After a minor fracas, nobody will take you serious if you are standing on the door without your jacket sleeves. It is best that the needles are pre-threaded because post trauma you will have the shakes and limited coordination. Last, but most essential, is a personal supply of headache tablets.

Extra Fuel   One pocket can be used to carry a small supply of chocolate and shortbread biscuits. After an early evening meal this supply can be used to boost your blood sugar levels and heat up your body. Carrying these aids will ensure that you have no reason to wander off looking for snacks. there is another reason for carrying some form of food, it is this. Throughout the night you will have to address many different and stressful situations. One of the side effects will be a dry mouth. Carrying a quick bite will help to get the saliva running again and thus accelerate your calming down process.

First Impressions

When patrons enter or leave a venue, their first and last contact is with the door supervisor. The reputation, conviviality and feel good factors the patrons take away from a venue are largely determined through their interactions with the door supervisor.

Always create a good impression by maintaining high standards in your dress, appearance, language and conduct during all phases of your duties. Pay attention to the following basic requirements and this will reduce your work load throughout the night and the work load of your head supervisor.

  • Hair combed.
  • Shoes polished.
  • Clean/pressed shirt/suit.
  • No foul or lewd language
  • No rings, brass or medallions, man.
  • Keep smiling at the appropriate times.
  • Greet all the patrons, not just those you fancy.
  • Physically cover the door to keep out the rubbish.
  • Open the door for all the patrons you are allowing into the venue.

Controlling the Door

You will be responsible for denying access to individuals or groups who:

  • Are drug dealers.
  • Refuse to be searched.
  • Refuse to pay the entrance fee.
  • Are under the legal age for drinking.
  • May be drunk or under the influence of drugs.
  • Are male or female prostitutes, plying their trade.
  • Do not conform to the dress code of your venue.
  • Are unable to produce a valid proof of age document.
  • May cause the venue to exceed the legal crowding limits.
  • Clearly have an attitude problem that may distress other patrons.
  • Have a reputation for disruptive behaviour, criminal behaviour or are barred.

When you refuse entry to an individual or group, this action will create a  potential problem. This is particularly true if you do not give a clear explanation for your actions. You must use social interaction skills that defuse the situation. Remain calm and explain clearly your reasons for refusing entry. This refusal must be based on the House Rules and not you personal interpretation of them. When you refuse entry, do it by:

  • Remaining polite and calm.
  • Explaining the House Rules.
  • Calling the Head Supervisor or Duty Bar Manager, if necessary, to support your stance.
  • Calling  for back up, if necessary. Do this by pressing the send button and transmitting part of the conversation, using code words e.g. 'This bar'. This alerts the back up but not the person you are refusing access, who may hit and run before the back up arrives.
  • As a last resort, close the door.

The House Rules will include codes of dress. For example base ball caps may be banned because the wide rims offer a degree of anonymity to the wearer who may go on to start trouble and remain unidentified. Without the base ball cap, the security cameras can pick out the trouble makers in action. This way, the legal process can go on.  Other items on the hit list must include anything that would cause offence to other patrons. This includes, sports tops, political emblems and street gang colours.

The Door Supervisors Tasks

Your Safety and Security tasks are always carried out in three phases, Pre-Event, Event and Post-Event. Some of the tasks mentioned for each stage are not specific to that one stage alone. Several of the items mentioned in these lists will be expanded upon later. There will be occasions when you will be tasked to operate inside the venue as a floor supervisor. These tasks have also been included here.

Pre-Event Safety and Security

  1. Check in 10 minutes before your job starts.
  2. Sign the Incident Book and check to see who is barred from entering your location.
  3. Sign out radios, learn the call signs and carry out radio checks.
  4. Check all the rooms for vandalism, rubbish, floor debris, lost property, suspicious packages or any slip and trip hazards.
  5. Check all the seating for damage and fresh chewing gum, anything that can turn an old suit into an Armani when it comes to compensation.
  6. Check that all fire exits, the routes to them and the areas outside your venue are free from obstructions.
  7. Check that the emergency opening bars on the emergency exit doors are operating and are not locked or chained.
  8. Check that all fire extinguishers are in position, visible and the seals are not broken.
  9. Review the house rules on admissions and search procedures.
  10. Ask the bar manager if the security cameras are on and recording.
  11. Ask the bar manager what the legal maximum crowd capacity of the venue is.
  12. Check that the Sin Bin/Honesty Box for banned articles is in position. This must be accompanied with bags and labels for banned items. All legal contraband remains the property of the patrons and must be returned to them when the leave the venue. Inform the alleged guilty that the police will return their illegal items later on. You may end up with quite a pile of unclaimed or unlabeled items on a busy night.
  13. Learn where all the out of bounds areas are for you and the patrons.
  14. Any problems? Report them in the incident book and inform your head supervisor.
  15. Familiarise yourself with all the information that patrons will expect you to give them.

Event Safety and Security

  1. Stay at your post unless moved by the Head Supervisor.
  2. Monitor queues to ensure good order. Do not allow queue jumpers to gain access to the event. The animosity they created outside can spill over inside the event.
  3. Speak to people in the queue. Offer advise and let them know what is happening. This is the stage to establish a good rapport with the patrons.
  4. Be familiar with the age limits on drinking and legal ID systems.
  5. Search all back packs, large bags and hand bags if necessary. It all depends on the terrorist threat level.
  6. Ask all pack carrying customers to store their packs below their seats so that they do not become a trip hazard.
  7. Be familiar with the House Rules and enforce them intelligently without causing embarrassment to the patrons.
  8. Always be able to account for the numbers present at your venue. Too many patrons means over-crowding and slow service at the counters. This situation can lead to frustration and aggressive responses to minor incidents. It is also a health and safety hazard if there are too many patrons for the staff to cope with in the event of an emergency that may include evacuation of the premises.
  9. When patrons are leaving the venue, ensure that they are not taking any souvenirs. This includes fire extinguishers, glasses, ashtrays and bottles or any other item that can be used as a weapon.
  10. You may be held liable for any injuries sustained by a patron who injures themselves or others with an item you obviously allowed them to remove from the venue.
  11. Ensure that all pack carriers leave your venue with their packs. By engaging them in conversation on their entry and also searching them, you are more likely to remember them as they leave.
  12. Watch out for patrons who may not be drunk, but under the influence of rape drugs. Always stop and question the person who may be quite innocently escorting or even abducting them off your venue. Ask the escorts for their ID, you may be saving a life.
  13. Ticket only venues have their own unique set of problems. Most of these problems can be avoided by following a few simple rules. Ignore these rules at your peril.

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The Floor Supervisors Tasks

Floor Duties    Always try to stay one jump ahead of the bar manager and your Head Supervisor. The best indicator that you may be 'switched off' or inexperienced is when the bar manager comes up to you and passes barbed comments, such as:

  1. 'They are smoking in the no smoking area'.
  2. 'Wake that guy up'
  3. 'The main walk way at the top of the stairs is blocked with people'.
  4. 'How did they get in?'

A good head supervisor or bar manager with access to a bank of security cameras may be keeping a tight eye on all activities at your venue. If you think you can switch off and bluff it for a while, a good head supervisor or bar manager will soon spot your omissions and shake you down.

Your floor duties will include responsibility for the following:

Bar Staff Security and Safety

  1. Continually ask the bar staff and waiters if everything is OK. That way you will get to sort out any events long before the bar manager is informed. More importantly, you get a chance to go in and sort out an event before it deteriorates. The bar staff will be subject to verbal and physical abuse as the night goes on. By asking about their safety, you are offering them a comforting form of mutual support.
  2. Sometimes bar staff are poorly trained and will continue to serve patrons who are clearly over the limit. When you first come on duty you have to check all the patrons for this state and inform the bar staff to stop serving before you eject the drunk patron.
  3. You have a responsibility to the patron. What will do with an individual who is falling over drunk? The taxi service will not transport drunks in case they 'throw up' over the interior. They will damage the reputation of that venue if you leave them lying around the front entrance. Do you take some mothers son to the nearest alley where they can be arrested, robbed, murdered, raped, mugged or asphyxiated on their vomit?
  4. If you allow a patron to drink too much before asking them to leave, there is the additional threat to the venues drinking license at the next review. It is this, the drunken patron may become a victim to a falling injury and this event will be logged by the local police and presented at the license review board.
  5. At other times when the bar staff are not under pressure from a packed house, they may have the opportunity to spot those patrons over the limit (even before you do) and refuse to serve them. This is a scary event for them as the drunk can turn belligerent. You must keep the bar staff under observation at all times in order to protect them.
  6. The waiter service needs a clear pathway around the venue. Make sure their main routes are not jammed with groups congregating in inappropriate areas. This includes areas near to or on the stairs and at the bar staff (Service) counter.

Floor Staff Security and Safety

  1. Always position yourself so that you are within visual contact of other floor staff. This action provides mutual support. You may notice an event about to take place on their blind spot.
  2. Serious incidents are usually infrequent. When something goes down, you can leave your spot and back up other staff. The stronger you are numerically at the incident, the less likely it will be to escalate.
  3. If you spot a fight starting, inform everyone by radio, direct them to the fight area and then wait for the back up before moving in.

Patron Security and Safety

  1. Keep talking to the patrons and assess their needs. By using a friendly approach you will help to explode the old myths about door and floor staff.
  2. If a patron becomes drunk, they may want to sleep. Do not allow this to happen, they are liable to fall over or even be robbed. After two warnings, escort them off the premises. In some countries, drunken individuals are not allowed to remain in bars. Always appeal to the friends of the drunken person before removing them.
  3. Once patrons become aware that you are there for their security and safety they will open up and inform you about anything that is amiss. For example, they may inform you about arguments in the toilet area that could develop into something more serious.
  4. Keep your area clear of broken furniture, broken glasses and unused cutlery. These items may act as cues for aggressive behaviour. Berkowitz (1968) noted that weapons may stimulate acts of violence 'Guns not only permit violence, they can stimulate it as well. The finger pulls the trigger, but the trigger may also be pulling the finger' (p. 22)
  5. When a spillage occurs, you must stand in the immediate area in order to deny access to patrons. Always call the bar staff to clean up the spillage. At this stage you must remain in close proximity to the bar staff so that they can clean up without patrons walking through the hazard.
  6. Be vigilant for anything that may cause annoyance or distress for the patrons. For example, over-boisterous behaviour or foul language from other groups.
  7. Be vigilant for suspicious or furtive behaviour. This includes drug dealing activities, the spiking of drinks with rape drugs or terrorists planting devices.
  8. On some occasions, children may be allowed into the dining area of your venue. This will present another unique set of problems. It is likely that they will become restless and start to roam about. You have to be patient and never allow the children to become a danger to themselves or others. Also become familiar with the predatory behaviour patterns of the paedophile.
  9. In the event of an emergency, children, people with special needs and others with impairments will have to be given special consideration. At all times you must know where these individuals are located. Become familiar with your state legislation and venue rules for actions in the event of any emergency.

Building Security and Safety

  1. Be on the lookout for suspicious packages. When a patron leaves a spot in your area, have they left anything behind? This analysis of and reaction to everyday occurrences must become second nature to you. Perhaps they quite innocently left their package behind.
  2. During your duty, all damaged or insecure furniture and glass must be removed for the comfort and safety of the patrons.
  3. Always intervene when someone interferes with fire doors or fire fighting equipment.
  4. Do not allow bar staff to clutter up fire exits or fire fighting equipment with empty kegs and other bar wastage. These routes will be needed for emergency evacuations and ejections of unruly patrons.
  5. If security doors and fire doors are supposed to be closed, ensure this is happening.
  6. Check that all fire exits, the routes to them and the areas outside the fire exits are free from obstructions.

Spot the Fire Appliance?

Post Event Safety and Security

Observational Skills

When you position yourself to observe any crowd, it is your job to spot anything out of the ordinary, long before anyone else. The earlier you spot a problem developing, the much easier it becomes for you to cope with it. Observation involves all of your senses. This includes sight, sound and smell. 

Use the quiet periods at an event to practice your observational skills and also observe normal crowd behaviour. At the start of the night, everyone is relaxed, moving and interacting at a slow pace. The noise levels are low in the early stages of the night. As the night progresses, the crowd will change with the increased alcohol consumption. The volume of the sound increases as the individuals become more relaxed and uninhibited. Verbal and physical abuse will also increase as the evening wears on.

If an argument develops, notice how the fingers and heads are stabbing away like a pair of rabid wood peckers. The antagonists will be moving faster than the normal ambient speed at the venue. They will also go full frontal to each other in order to increase their intimidating front. Do not expect fights to start from a face to face position. It is very easy to be caught flat footed by individuals that enter the venue and make a bee line for their selected victim. These reptiles move faster than normal, bumping into others as they bulldoze their way through the crowd in order to reach the victim. 

You must always be on the look out for individuals that normally sit with a particular group, but on a specific night, may be sitting away from that group. There are several reasons for this behaviour. First, they may have fallen out with their usual company and are now potential fighters. Second, there may be a fight in the process of starting. By, staying away from their normal company, they can ambush any individuals that start a fight with their group. 

Keep an eye on the bar staff who may have an abusive or drunken customer in their face. Also make a point of looking at each group of people to see if they have an unwelcome guest in their midst. A subtle facial expression or eye movement is all you need from a pissed off individual to trigger you off in a positive response.

Pay attention to the background noises and this will let you know what is happening at various parts of the venue that you may not have visual contact with. A sudden drop in volume may mean that the crowd has observed something happening and are now focused on that incident. Always head for these areas of silence.

Use your nose to detect whacky baccy, kitchen fires or other obnoxious whiffs. This includes, home made explosives, gas or burning furniture.

Never keep your observations to yourself. Always let the rest of the team know what is bugging you.

Physical Positioning

You must control the movement of patrons entering your venue. This is done through a combination of correct physical positioning, appropriate questioning and finally, vigilant observation.

The exact spot you place yourself in for each task is critically important. Correct physical positioning is the arbitrator between total control and total chaos. The correct position always depends on the type of venue and the structural design. The following pointers will help to explain these factors and may eliminate the distress of learning through error.

On the Door   At the start of the night, you have to be close to the door in order to control the patrons entering the venue. It is important to always remember that if you are physically covering the door at all times, there will be no opportunity for the gate crasher to get into the premises without physically assaulting you. If you accidentally allow any form of rubbish into the premises, you will have to chase after them and then go physical to get their attention. It will prove less embarrassing to stop this from happening through good cover on the door.

At the end of the evening, you must position yourself towards the outer door. This allows you to stop patrons leaving the venue with glasses, bottles or any other item that must remain on the premises. This procedure will stop you from having to chase after patrons and going hands on to halt them. A situation fraught with problems.

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Outside Events At some events, rival groups may be separated by fixed fencing as well as stewards. It is important that you place yourself at least arms length away from the fencing. This will deny anybody on the other side of the fence the opportunity to grab and pull you into the fencing.

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At some pop concerts, the fencing is more mobile and flexible. It is primarily used to channel the patrons as opposed to containing them. You must stand even further back from this form of fencing. This is because any social cretin who decides to shoulder charge the fencing will crash it into you.

Searching   As a searcher you are vulnerable to attack. This is because you are focused on the individual you are searching. Always have someone covering your back. This will reduce the risk of someone attacking you or trying to rush past without submitting to a search.

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The Good Guy - Bad Guy Routine

Proper stage management of the roles of Good Guy - Bad Guy will defuse the majority of explosive situations. This routine is a very useful low-key method for dealing with minor arguments, the slightly drunk and barred individuals.

The role you adopt and the tactics you employ will depend on who reaches the incident first as well as the type of incident. The first DS to react is called 'The Front' and the other DS becomes 'The Cover'.

The Front usually acts as the Good Guy. It is up to the front to either initiate talking or physical action, depending on the incident. It is the role of The Cover to stay in the background and act as an unknown quantity, to psyche out the individual. The Cover must give the front the confidence to deal with the immediate incident without having to worry about background activity. The immediate task of de-escalating is very demanding. It places you at a disadvantage, you are very vulnerable to attack, not just from the problem individual but also from his friends.

To summarize...

The Front - Good Guy.

The Cover - Bad Guy

Dealing With A Barred Individual

The bar manager draws your attention to the fact that a barred individual is using the bar facilities. Both of the DS approach the individual. The Front gets in his face and The Cover will ideally place himself to the side and slightly behind the individual. This positioning will isolate the individual from his friends and also allow The Cover to face these friends to control them. The conversation will go something like this...

Front 'The bar manager has informed me that you are barred. Please drink up and leave the bar.'

Individual 'No, I want to see the manager.'

Front 'No, you must drink up. Come in here tomorrow and speak to the manager.'

Individual 'I want to see the manager.'

Front 'You are leaving the bar as soon as you finish your drink. You are now trespassing on these premises. You are out of order.'

Individual 'Why am I barred?'

Front 'Discuss that with the manager tomorrow. You have 5 minutes to finish that drink. We are moving back, we will be back in five minutes.'

You move away five or ten meters and eyeball the individual for five minutes. You have left him with no other option but to drink up and leave the premises. Try enjoying a drink with two rottweilers standing ready to rip your arms and legs off. Sure enough within the five minutes the glass is empty. No one else saw anything happening. The potential major ejection has been averted by making the individual sweat....he decided to leave with some dignity and the option of talking to the manager the next day.

Dealing With Customers Who Must Leave Early

Customers who must leave early include those who are physically and verbally abusing the staff and other customers. If you honestly believe that they are:

 Start to move the subject with the minimum amount of force, that is:

This long-winded procedure is not just for the benefit of the witnesses to the event, it gives you a guideline to follow without losing sight of the objective, to remove a subject from the venue with the minimum amount of force and allowing them to leave with some dignity.

This is how it works in a real situation. The bar staff are pointing up the bar for you to go there. A subject was throwing beer glasses at other customers, who were now coming at her with bad intentions. You get there first, grab her arm and ask her to leave. This fails miserably, she is out of her head with rage and fights you off, kicking and screaming. You get behind her and use a full nelson hold to run her out of the bar. She is still fighting mad and within 8 seconds she deliberately collapses and lies down on the floor, after all it would be wrong to hyperextend her spine with the full nelson. With your partner covering your back, you calm her down and resolve the situation. She then leaves the bar with some dignity remaining. You back track and pick up your radio, tie and dignity and then fill in the incident book. What a tacky, true story. There is no glory, honour or dignity in going hands on in bar fights with females, drunks and others, it is always an inconclusive mess.

In many instances, you will have to deal with individuals who are barred from the premises but arrive and start drinking hours before you go on duty. In this case the process is much slower; drunks, non-abusive or non-violent individuals require a lot more coaxing to shift. Constant repetition of the request for them to leave is more in order. Give them a bad day by constant repetition of the simple request to leave while you are filling their space.

Dress Search Procedure

Searches are carried out as part of your responsibilities for the safety of the staff, the patrons and the building. All patrons using your venue must be made aware of your powers of search and powers of seizure under your state's current  and active legislation. This should be clearly displayed at all entrances to your venue. Most individuals have a positive attitude towards searches. They feel that the more people that are searched, the safer the venue will be. Should a person refuse to give permission for you to search them, deny them access to the venue. If you attempt to search a person without first gaining their permission, you are liable to be prosecuted for assault. Searches are also an effective way of managing a crowd by slowing them down as they rush the building.

The current threat and what you are looking for will determine your search method. The aim of all searching is to ensure that no weapons, drugs or other items are carried into the venue that would:

An offensive weapon is defined as:

Before you start a search task you must also determine your legal limitations on dress searching. These limitations will include age limits, areas of the body that may be out of bounds and the sex of the subjects. The search procedure detailed below is a full search. At most venues this may not be required because it will slow down the movement into the venue.

Visual Search Long before the subject reaches you, it is important that you check them out visually first.

Verbal Search You are still searching the subjects without touching them as yet. By asking questions you may be able to determine their emotional state.

Physical Search The more detailed the search, the more embarrassing and intrusive the operation is. The act of searching an individual, even a quick frisk, can be viewed as an infringement of that persons privacy. Be constantly aware of this point and conduct the search with some empathy for the subject.

Actions on a Find

Keep a written record in the occurrence book of each item seized. The searcher who finds an illicit item must bag and tag the item. The purpose of the tag is to record the journey and individual handling  the item takes until it reaches it's final destination. The less people that are involved in this process the better.  If the continuity of evidence handling is not kept accurate, then the evidence is flawed. The occurrence book information  must include:


Large Venue Search Procedure

In the interest of health and safety there must be two stages to the search procedure. First, the patrons must be made aware of  items that are not permitted into crowded areas.  Second, the patrons have to be channeled into a search area where it can be confirmed that they are not attempting to carry in the banned items.  Remember, body searches are not permitted,  it is a dress search. Do not put your hands inside the persons clothing or property when you are searching. The banned items will include:

These items can be bagged and tagged at the first barrier for returning or else discarded into a waste bin. When someone arrives at the first barrier, there must be a drinking facility and plastic cups for carrying the drinks into the venue. At the second stage of the search procedure, males must search only males and females must only search females. Some patrons will be very eager to enter the venue and will not mind who searches them. This  state of mind that will leave them open to sexual assault so the rules must be enforced.

Caps Off  Bottles

Change Containers

 Same Sex Search 

Bare Hands Find More




Basic Radio Procedure

When all radio users are using the same basic set of procedures, the communications system will sound much more professional. On too many occasions, the radio procedures used by individuals at different locations reflects their favourite TV cop show. When you are issued with a radio there are five sets of facts that you must know. This knowledge will help to make you a more competent radio user and most important of all, the system will also be more users friendly.

  1. The channel the radio must be set to. All radio operators carrying out the same job must be on the same channel.
  2. The volume must be set correctly so that you can hear all messages above the background noise.
  3. The call signs being used that day. You must be able to identify the radio user by their call sign.
  4. The protocol. Press the send button- Pause for half a second - Speak - Keep the message short. Listen in at all times. Someone may be trying to contact you.
  5. The message procedure.


What you are doing

What you say

Radio Check

Call sign Alpha is calling Bravo.

Hello Bravo this is Alpha, Radio Check, Over.

Bravo acknowledges the check

Bravo, OK, Over.

Alpha acknowledges the check.

Alpha, OK, Out.


Sending a Message

Call sign Alpha calls up Bravo.

Hello Bravo this is Alpha, Over.

Bravo acknowledges the call.

Bravo, Send, Over.

Alpha sends the message.

Alpha, (Send the full message) Over.

Bravo acknowledges the message.

Bravo, Roger, Over.

Alpha ends the message.

Alpha, Out.

The Bad and Mad Last Hour

There are two periods of your duty that demand your total vigilance. First, when you go on duty and establish your presence. This entails weeding out patrons who have been at your venue all day and are now totally blitzed, or close to being so. It also entails weeding out under age drinkers and individuals who have been barred from using your venue but the bar staff are too intimidated to order out. Second, you have to be on your toes for the last bad and mad hour before closing.

The laws for licensed premises may vary from country to state, but the generally recognised routine would be as follows:

        12:45 AM        Last Orders

        1:00 AM          Bar Closed

        1:30 AM          Bar Cleared of all patrons

         1:45 AM          All security checks completed and the Occurrence Book filled in

Well before Last Orders are called, some patrons will start sinking the drink very fast. This behaviour includes ordering much more drink than they can consume within the stipulated timings.  Expect the usual clichés, such as "I've paid for this drink, so I'm going to finish it" (Oh Yeah, Really???) This is also an important part of the evening to watch out for drugged alcohol rape victims being led off the premises to be abused and sexually assaulted. You also have to be terrorist aware and on the look out for people leaving items behind either intentionally or by accident.

With all the bars and venues in your area closing at the same time, there will be an excess of intoxicated young people on the streets at this late hour. Taxi services will be unable to cope with this surge of people.  It may take the transport services over two hours to ferry every person home and clear the streets. The more intoxicated people become, the less likely they are to be accepted by the taxi service. Because of this situation, they are also more liable to be involved in the statistics of either physical violence, criminal damage, rape or robbery. 

When violence occurs off your venue, even a couple of paces from the door, your intervention  may leave you operating outside your jurisdiction as well as your legal and hospital insurance covers. To add further grief,  in panic situations, there is always the danger of you being accidentally locked out of the premises to face the reptiles on your own. Never step out and never let the rubbish step in. You may think you have earned your money throughout the night, but this last bad and mad hour is where you really earn your daily bread.

Clearing the Venue Area

As a precursor to clearing the venue area, there are any number of tactics that can be used by the bar staff in order to disrupt the ambience of the venue and encourage the patrons to depart on time. For example:

The DS ideal attributes for clearing venues, particularly bars are:

You are now the last members of staff to interact with the patrons. You must interact well so that the patrons leave your venue with all their 'feel good factors' still maintained about the venue. Always give the patrons at least 30 minutes to finish their drinks after the bar stops serving. With a good humored and persistent approach, this will be achieved. After this 30 minute deadline, the patrons and the bar will have exceeded their legal drinking hours.

Every 5 minutes you must approach all the patrons and groups of patrons personally. Draw their attention and let them know that they are on a countdown to finish their drinks. This will prove to be more productive and  also a more refined approach when compared to wandering about shouting the odds in general.

Keep changing over the DS as you carry out this task. You will eventually wear down the patrons rather than each other. Inexperienced DS can become dispirited and lose their assertiveness if they are ignored by the patrons. Watch each other as you carry out this demanding task, if an individual team member is too passive, let them know.

More intoxicated patrons will require a more persistent approach from the team. When a patron appears to ignore your requests to drink up, you must speak to them personally and elicit a positive response.

Once the deadline is reached, your approach must change. Stop asking the patrons to drink up. Inform them that the bar is closed ant tell them to make their way to the exits. Start shouting if necessary. They have now exceeded their welcome and you are in contravention of the liquor laws.

Make sure the doors are covered at this stage. Some patrons will not want to part with their electric soup and will try to sneak it off the premises. This  can contravene the liquor laws. You may only have a license to sell liquor for consumption on the premises. The bottle or glass being taken off the venue may also be used as a weapon or the patron may fall and injure themselves or others with it.

Ronnie Gamble, the author of this article, is a Control and Restraint Instructor. He also has a B.Sc.(Hons) in Social Psychology and Sociology. At present he is researching into group behaviour at social events and also, planning a training programme for Door Supervisors and Stewards.

E-mail me with your comments on this section, along with your permission to publish them.

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