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27th May 2022

‘THE WORST ACT OF VIOLENCE BY DOORSTAFF’

Facing an impossible situation, review, closure, altered hours, loss of premises licence

Circumstances

One of our Clients received the worst message he could have at 10.00 pm the day after a serious incident had occurred at his bar. A member of security had pulled out a gun when threatened by a person wielding a six-inch carving knife. A disturbance in the street occurred, clearly an affray and serious assault by the security guards and a member of the public (The CCTV was damming)

The incident had occurred the previous evening and had been grossly underreported by the offending security staff and only when social websites started showing footage and still images, then the Police got involved!

Our Client contacted me immediately and as a long term Client with both our Compliance Management System and ISITCHECKED in use, we reviewed his situation and offered some immediate solutions, and more importantly – a plan.

Two local licensing solicitors were spoken to, both very knowledgeable and very helpful. I was told that we had less than a 1% chance of NOT losing the licence for a minimum of 28 days at an interim review and maybe permanently such was the disaster unfolding.

The Client was soon served with an interim hearing notice and we had four days to prepare for the hearing. Meanwhile, the Police were arresting the Security staff, tracking down witnesses and preparing to ask for a closure order and full licensing review.

At the interim hearing, the Council Licensing Committee gave a fair hearing to both sides, – we gave it our best shot – ever!

The Committee’s decision was that the premises could remain open and the only condition added at the interim hearing was that an additional member of bar staff be employed to assist with the supervision of the premises.

Solution

The use of our Compliance Management system and ISITCHECKED and 30+ years experience in the nighttime economy, yet again proved a great success – BUT – Please don’t wait until you are in this situation, when all your work, investment and livelihood are hanging by a thread because quite honestly, in the words of a Licensing Chairman “Well Mr X, if you would have had this in place before we wouldn’t be here now”!

27th April 2022

UP FOR A REVIEW? LOOKING AT CLOSURE?

I have a tendency to ‘harp’ on about keeping up with good due diligence, pushing our cloud-based services, (I do this because I know they work). One of my Clients appreciated this only too well recently.

They had a very serious and extreme incident at the venue resulting in allegations against Security staff of affray, possession of weapons, excess use of force and a customer arriving with a weapon.

The Police went for an interim hearing extremely confident that they would get full closure, I was told they had a 99% chance of getting this and my Client had a 1% of NOT getting closed!

The Client had our Compliance Management and ISITCHECKED systems in use and notified us within 3-4 hours of the incident, enabling an immediate response.

At the interim hearing, I explained what had been done since the incident, what was already in place and what we were going to do. The committee supported our Clients application and he has remained open – against all odds!

Premises licences have been suspended for far less of an incident than this one.

Take a look at our ‘Best Practices Post

What do I take away from this experience – That OUR systems and practices place any venue in a good defensive position, do it right the first time – STAY OPEN.

27th October 2021

BEST PRACTICE FOR INCIDENTS

This is likely the longest post I have made for a while, but if you can take away my 20+ years of experience in one of the busiest nightclubs in Liverpool (capital of injury claims)! then I have helped you to save a ton of money, stress, time and insurance liability increases and excesses – then I will feel good about the post.

INCIDENTS – BEST PRACTICE

The first thing with any incident is to recognise that it is an incident that needs to be dealt with, this may seem a very obvious statement to make but lots make the first error in the chain by not recognising what it is.

I have been there and done this so this for me is not new or a surprise and almost every claim or incident can be dealt with in minutes and put to bed if you do it right.

A couple of easy examples are:

Incident 1

A customer comes to you and states she has a small cut on her foot and asks for a plaster, you look and it’s a minor thing, she admits she was at fault.   

No records made, a plaster given out.

Incident 2

A group of males are refused entry into the venue, a fight with security ensues and then two minutes later it’s over and done with, no complainant, no injuries, a quick note in the door register.

What do you do about the above?  Technically do you feel that enough has been done?  Incident 1 is a nothing incident and incident 2 has been sorted, no injuries, no Police have turned up – so sorted??

I’m afraid it isn’t because this is what happens next:

Incident 1

2 years later a claim come in stating that the claimant cut her foot due to broken glass on the floor “It was everywhere, no cleaning taking place at all” – the wound turned septic, she was admitted to hospital and couldn’t walk for 3 months.  All in all a £25,000.00 plus the same again in costs claim!

You receive a request for staff records who worked that night, cleaning records, staff training, a copy of the accident report, copies of risk assessments etc etc

Incident 2

3 months later, Licensing Police have received a complaint, a duplicate complaint has also been received by S.I.A and they want to know all the details as these people “have been violently abused and for no good reason”.

You are now subject to scrutiny from two enforcing agencies with powers to cause you no end of grief and that is not taking up the time it takes to deal with the above issues.

So what is ‘best practice’??

The first thing that I started doing was to treat even the smallest complaint, cut toe, strap on the foot rubbing to serious injuries, stabbings, spiking etc EVERYTHING is treated as an incident that is likely to cause a massive headache in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, you will spend time doing this and 90%, hopefully, will amount to nothing, BUT when you do need it then you will be hugely grateful for the footwork you put in at the start.

It is also notable that when you are getting this information together at the start it is 1000% easier than trying to do it 6 months later!

How did I do this?

Easy – (It was NOT easy) it was hard work, the major difficulty was at the start teaching my staff the ‘new’ way of doing things, some accepted it and got on with it, others kicking and squealing – but they got there in the end.

I used TWO different systems (I use these two systems still to help others) the first is a Compliance Management system, this is a real-time cloud-based system that covers the entire business operation:

  • Staff training
  • Risk assessments
  • Incident/accident reporting
  • Company records
  • Fire risk assessment
  • And lots more.

Once that was in place it meant that I could set the staff training and risk assessment training up just once, the system then generates the reminders, reschedules refresher training etc, if the staff leave we still had the records.

The staff each have a sign in and access to their own training, Management has different training and access rights so they may have access to complete maintenance tasks, like recording annual fire extinguisher services.  The service documents are also stored on the system giving instant access from anywhere.

As the owner or GM, you can see where the staff are up to if they have outstanding training etc and they get a weekly reminder/update emailed to them so you don’t have to remember to schedule the training, the majority of which can be read and signed off at home by the staff.

The whole system enabled me to produce all the training records, slip and trips etc within minutes and have the whole lot as PDF to insurers or the Police within 15 minutes.

SYSTEM 2

ISITCHECKED is a real-time cloud-based checklist system, this works by the staff having a free app on their mobile.  A QR code is placed say at the front door or a toilet or a section of the venue.

The back office enables the system to be set up, you can add any amount of codes and each code can deal with different checklists dependent upon which group of staff are scanning the code.

So a different checklist would show for security staff and another for cleaning staff and another for the Manager.

When the security staff patrol the toilets, of course, they check to see if anyone is using or dealing drugs, the floor is dry and clean etc the problem is – ‘THEY DON’T RECORD THE CHECK’ so any ‘evidence’ of a check is not there.

The same thing with glass collectors, managers, bar staff – all pass through the toilets but don’t record it.  Most ‘records’ have a fixed time and some scribble for a signature every 30 minutes (not 16 minutes or 37 minutes) which is why as ‘evidence’ they fail.

ISITCHECKED records the checklist records the time and dates and GPS location and the user’s name in clear print.

As an example, if you have 2x security patrolling, you have a glass collector and a manager, they each have to check the toilets every 30 minutes.  On a 6 hour shift, you could expect that the toilets record a check over 48 times (better than 12)  in reality they check much more frequently and the best result I got was over 200 times in a night.

Because you don’t have a visual form on the wall nobody knows when it was last checked, so they record a check every time they pass through, the bar staff using the toilets is a bonus check.

Now you have ‘real’ evidence that has not once failed to defend a venue.

EVIDENCE GATHERING

ALL incidents should be investigated as a possible claim, no matter how insignificant it seems to be.

  • Record all incidents and accidents
  • Get exact location and save CCTV
  • Take pictures of the location
  • Gather witnesses and get a brief statement signed
  • Get a signed report from the injured party (I guarantee their account will change)
  • Note things and get pictures (i.e High heel shoes if they may be contributory)
  • Place all the evidence in an envelope into a file box
  • Don’t printout checklists and staff records you can access them later from the cloud.

RESULTS

Putting in place these changes provided the following benefits:

  • Claim against us stopped
  • Existing claims failed
  • Insurance excesses reduced massiviliy
  • Insurance costs reduced by 75% over 5 years
  • Staff improved the quality of work
  • Claims that came in were dealt with in ONE Email.
  • Police complaints and a chance to go to review were stopped.

The same applies to incidents at the front door, record it properly, save CCTV and bodycam footage, log an incident report on the Compliance Management system, upload copies of any paper reports.

CCTV should be saved onto a secure medium, I used DVDs for years mainly because they all fitted into an envelope and didn’t deteriorate.

The main thing you are trying to show to your insurers or the Police is that you are a competent operator and that you have done everything ‘reasonably possible at the time.  IF you have done all this then I would be very surprised if the end result was detrimental to you or the venue, mainly because the Police wouldn’t likely do this level of due diligence.

I have been supporting venues and Clients for over 10 years and everyone that has implemented these systems has had no issues or even been to review.


REPLY FROM S.I.A INVESTIGATOR (redacted for Client confidentiality) 

Hi Dave

All good here thank you. I hope it’s the same with you.

Thank you very much for sending through all this information so quickly. I really appreciate your help in resolving this enquiry. Very impressive record keeping. I know you developed a fabulous system but I think this is the first time I have seen the results in real live action.

I have yet to open the CCTV as I will need to go through our IT Dept to be able to do that so will view in due course. The incident report is very detailed and I have no reason to doubt it will be reflective of what sounds to have been a most unpleasant incident.

As I said to ******, you know how it works here. Intel comes in from all sorts of places and is then passed out to people like me on the regions to make enquiries. I am not privy to where it came from in the first place. I always approach it with an open mind and am well aware that the reality of the situation can be very different from what the intel alleges. Quite rightly though it all has to be considered.

Once I have viewed the CCTV it would be my intention to write this one up as closed on the basis of no issues found in relation to ****** door staff.

Thanks again for your help.


That letter was great for me to see as well as the Client and justified the time and investment given to using the best practices and software available.

Just as a footnote really this complaint actually came in after 4 months following the incident, normally, by which time all footage would have been overwritten and zero CCTV support evidence would be available.

SOFTWARE LINKS

21st October 2021

Have you been in front of the Licensing Committee yet??

I have been to a few hearings to explain why if a venue installs and operates our software the improvements will be so good that the committee should give them an opportunity to try – rather than remove their licence. Only in one case were we not successful, in that case, we came to the table far too late in the procedings.

BRIEF CIRCUMSTANCES – The venue had been badly let down by the security team and allowed drug dealers to operate, no doubt for financial gain and a couple were even selling, a substantial amount of dealing going on in the toilets.

Licensing Police had mounted an undercover operation and had recorded the transgressions in detail and used video recording, the venue as part of the defence submission argued that they were checking the toilets on a regular basis, they had sacked security staff, changed Managers, basically putting it right and moving the bad eggs out.

The Committee was standing strong, I spent over 40 minutes going into great detail that by using ISITCHECKED and our COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, the improvements and evidence of the toilet checks would be enormous and would put things not only right but a huge improvement in addition.

They were duly impressed with the systems and this was mentioned during summing up with the reasons that they rejected the application and removed the licence.

QUOTE FROM THE LICENSING COMMITTEE

“(NAME OF DPS), We have examined this case in detail and we have taken on board the management system changes that you have stated that you will introduce, we feel that this has been left far too late, in fact, had you deployed these systems before then we would not be dealing with this today”

HSADD – I think that the point to be taken here is that you should take really seriously your staff training, due diligence, toilet checks and venue checks. The biggest issue that I have come across when looking at Clients operations is that 99% of operators actually complete all the checks – BUT THEY DO NOT RECORD THEM!

Let me show you how you can create the record-keeping to the highest standard of proof so that when something happens you can at least provide the evidence that you have done the very best you can – whether that is a slip/trip or a licensing issue. Don’t get to a position where the horse has left the stable and is vanishing down the road!!