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Bouncers treating their duties like 'sport': lawyer


Ashley Mackinnon

Security guard on duty

Security guard on duty Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

The methods of hotel crowd controllers have come under fire from one Brisbane lawyer, who believes the crackdown on alcohol-fuelled violence should take into account approaches used in handling intoxicated patrons.

Compensation lawyer Mark O'Connor says a legal loophole currently allows hotels to dodge responsibility for the actions of security staff.

Under the Security Providers Act 1993, crowd controllers are not recognised as direct employees of hotels because they are often contractors employed by security firms, not the pubs and clubs they patrol.

“This allows hotels to turn a blind eye to what their bouncers are doing,” Mr O'Connor said.

“This is a cop-out because I believe if you employ security staff to control patrons then you should be legally responsible for the actions of these staff members.”

Mr O'Connor said he has acted for several victims of crowd control violence, including a man injured when intervening to assist another man being attacked by several crowd controllers.

“With the focus on alcohol-related violence the government needs to look at all areas of violence including excessive and over the top violence by security staff.”

Mr O'Connor believes that a change of attitude is needed to manage crowd control if safer environments are to be provided for patrons. He thinks hotels should assume more responsibility for the actions of security staff.

“Pubs and clubs should not be allowed to weasel out of their responsibilities for bouncer behaviour, as they are currently doing.”

Matthew Bhimbhai, Managing Director of In Front Security, disagrees that crowd control violence is “out of control”.

“The majority of guards are well trained and are dealing with awkward situations,” Mr Bhimbhai said.

Mr Bhimbhai, who has more than a decade of experience in security, said that although incidents do happen, they are still very rare.

“In ten years, I have had maybe one incident, and because of provocation, the guy wasn't convicted.”

Mr Bhimbhai said that under the Liquor Act 1992, licensed hotels are more responsible for crowd safety than the public is led to believe.

“There is overlapping between the Security Providers Act and the Liquor Act, but in terms of the Liquor Act, hotels are still accountable for security staff.”

Still, Mr O'Connor believes the amount of force being used by crowd controllers in Queensland venues is unacceptable.

“I've seen a bunch of cases where harmless individuals have been grabbed from behind, arms above the head. To some bouncers, it seems to be just a bit of sport.”

6 comments so far

  • never needed to have security control when the pub shut early the barmaid was enough to move everyone on and close up
    shut the pubs and clubs earlier and the problem will be fixed

    Date and time
    February 10, 2014, 6:44AM
    • What is more, security courses that bouncers need to do are often taught by providing a book and a set of questions, which the student then can use to copy and paste the answers from the book into the questions without learning anything.

      Which means most bouncers have the certification to work in security but don't really have the knowledge.

      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 8:16AM
      • In QLD they do. Not in NSW and VIC where they have to attend a course and get both "theory" and practical training. This is typical of many things done in a pretty half-baked way in QLD.

        Date and time
        February 10, 2014, 9:36AM
    • Bouncers are a law unto themselves backed up by the police on all occasions. In my experience the police do not respond to, and discourage, any complaints against security staff. Complaints to security companies are brushed off. The general public is at the mercy of bouncers who are violent.

      Date and time
      February 10, 2014, 8:45AM
      • Problem is so many drunk nightclub patrons have no respect for anyone. The things people do when drunk have got worse over the last 20years. That is the reason I'm no longer a bouncer. Use to be the odd problem but on the whole people were mostly compliant. Now both male & females preload much more than they use too. Now you ask someone to move on half cause you issues, from being spat on to have women take off their high heals to hit you, guys just out to try and fight you or anyone else they can get their hands on. Maybe if the patrons acted better they would be treated better.

        Date and time
        February 10, 2014, 9:34AM
        • OK so now we have the legal situation pointed out to us by a solicitor what will Campbell Newman be doing about this anomaly?

          The ball is entirely in Newman's court on this matter. He now knows about it - if he didn't already - and can show us how serious he is about the late night bashing fest that still goes on in this city.

          Date and time
          February 10, 2014, 9:38AM

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