Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
August 25, 2021


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Security officers

Major new study reveals significant levels of verbal and physical violence towards security staff

A new study conducted in May this year of over 1000 security professionals from Workingthedoors.co.uk has revealed the levels of verbal and physical violence security staff receive while at work.

The research, led by the Working the Doors team – a dedicated blog for frontline security staff – has highlighted the levels of abuse security staff face on a day-to-day basis. The study, which was supported by many across the security industry including IFSEC Global, aimed to highlight the violence that many in the sector face and the impact this is having on the individuals involved.

Rollo Davies, F.ISRM MSyI, Managing Editor – TPSO magazine, added: “This survey is one of the most important pieces of research into the experiences of front line security personnel in the last decade.”

Some of the key findings include:

  • 36% are physically attacked monthly
  • 36% use physical force Weekly
  • 51% are verbally abused every time they work
  • 57% say that an incident has affected their mental state more than 24 hours after the event
  • 48% saying that they have had a flashback/nightmare about a specific incident
  • 65% of our respondents were resigned to the fact that violence within the security industry was inevitable
  • 68% of respondents said they had not received any ongoing training after gaining their SIA license.
  • 86% said that they felt that the levels of violence they see and experience whilst at work had increased over the last five years.

Security guards, door supervisors, retail guards and close protection officers protect thousands of organisations across a plethora of industries, such as shopping areas and transport hubs, night-time and entertainment venues and important infrastructure such as government buildings, courts and airports. As well as this, their role often fills the gaps left from the police cuts including work as street marshalls and street wardens.

Clearly, the abuse professionals are receiving is having a fundamental effect on those that are employed to look after and protect people in society, with 48% saying that they have had a flashback/nightmare about a specific incident and 57% say that an incident has affected their mental state more than 24 hours after the event. While it is difficult to say with full certainty that professionals are experiencing PTSD, Working the Doors notes that many are suffering from common symptoms, with a worrying lack of support available – or at least deemed to be available.

“This survey is one of the most important pieces of research into the experiences of front line security personnel in the last decade.”

Well-regarded industry professionals commented on the findings. Rick Mounfield, Chief Executive of the Security Institute, commented: “Some jobs are sedate, comfortable, and routine. Others are not.

“Door supervisors go to work expecting to face aggression and abuse because their role is to ensure the public do not have to face it. If they (the party goer) do encounter it, they take for granted that someone (the door supervisor) will be there to protect them.

“Often protectors become the targets of anger. Their role places them at the epicentre of conflict that is, all too often, fuelled by alcohol or substance abuse. These risks are accepted as part of the job of protector but that does not mean it is acceptable. No more acceptable than a Police Officer or Paramedic being subjected to the same abuse or violence. Assault is assault and when your job is to protect the public, you should be afforded the support of the law. If we do not protect Security Staff and Door supervisors with specific legal reinforcement for offences against the person, how can we attract the right people to perform this vital role.”

Mike Hurst, Director of IFPO UK and Ireland, added: “Any violence against frontline security is unacceptable and the levels shown by this survey are shocking.”

“Apart from the obvious detrimental physical effects, aggression and violence aimed at security officers can often be a major cause of wellbeing and mental health issues. The IFPO is working hard to support the welfare of frontline security personnel with education and support.”

The report also explores the role technology and new techniques are playing in potentially reducing aggression against security staff. Some respondents highlighted the role body-worn cameras are playing, for example, noting that since using body-cams there was a “definite effect on decreasing the frequency of incidental violence”, and their effectiveness as a deterrent. Schemes such as Smart Tag and ‘Pubwatch’ are also discussed.

Since the reopening of pubs and clubs, a sector heavily impacted by the pandemic, roles and positions have been hard to fill, with many leaving the industry to find careers in other sectors with equivalent pay and less violent environments.

The survey ran from 17th May to 16th June 2021, with all 1224 responses from UK-based security personnel who hold SIA licences.

The research has revealed a worrying lack of support provided by the SIA and security companies, says Working the Doors. The full report, which can be found here, has highlighted a list of measures they believe may be able to support in the challenges the industry faces.

The BSIA, Security Institute, and Security Commonwealth joined forces last year for a campaign designed to increase the respect and recognition of security officer’s capabilities and to change the public perception of the profession.

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