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Perth Now
Saturday, 16 July 2011
Perth, Australia
Stab proof vests, pepper spray for security
Bouncers are demanding stab-proof vests and pepper sprays because their job is as dangerous as police work.

Security companies employed at pubs and clubs across Perth have told The Sunday Times that door staff are facing increased violence from alcohol and amphetamine-fuelled patrons, and have few ways of guarding against attacks.

PROTECTION: Security staff want more to protect them.

A security officer, who worked as a doorman for more than a decade, said bouncers had become targets for "boofheads who want a fight" and they needed better ammunition to defend themselves.

"The propensity for these people to turn on you is a very real threat," he said.

"You can't underestimate the volatility or the backlash, especially when they have drugs in their system.

"You can't reason with them because they are so heavily affected by alcohol and, in many cases, amphetamines. The drugs are a big problem."

Under the Security and Related Activities Control Act, security officers can seek permission to carry firearms and batons, but approval is usually limited to those escorting money and valuables not bouncers at licensed venues.

Bridget Kenny, co-owner of The Shed in Northbridge, who also runs her own security company, said she would welcome any measures that protected her workers.

She said a lack of education by authorities about restrictions at pubs and clubs had led to more assaults on door staff by patrons who felt aggrieved by certain rules, coupled with the proliferation of amphetamines and excessive boozing. "There is that lack of respect, and if there is a lack of respect for the police then there is even more of a lack of respect for security staff who are trying to do their job," Ms Kenny said.

"You don't have the same tools available to you for protection as the police to deal with certain situations so security staff are more at risk as a result.

"Some of the restrictions on licensees these last few years are so restrictive that the public are unaware of them so your security staff and bar staff are left to educate the patrons. As a result, assaults and verbal abuse against staff have increased.

"Security are trained to deal with someone under the influence of alcohol. You can usually reason with someone who is drunk and eventually they will just go away. But when you're dealing with somebody under the influence of other substances, you have no idea what you're up against and refusal of entry can be met with a very aggressive individual who has no sense of reason."

Another security insider, who wanted to remain anonymous, claimed Perth had more trouble than many international cities and aggression on the streets and outside licensed venues was at an all-time high.

"Legally, the guys should be able to wear stab vests," he said.

Northbridge bouncer, Kevin, who did not want his surname published, said he had been racially abused during his 18 years in the industry and bouncers needed more protection.

"We shouldn't use violence as a first resort ... it is better to talk. (But) they will try everything for you to throw the first punches," he said.


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