Nightclubs are urgently calling for government intervention to deal with a growing shortage of bouncers which industry bosses say could become a “threat to public safety”.
The Night Time Industry Association (NTIA) said last month that one in five nightlife and hospitality businesses have closed or reduced their hours of operation due to a shortage of security personnel.
However, he said the situation had “deteriorated further” as demand continued to skyrocket from customers keen to spend an evening after the lockdown was eased.
The number of security workers has run out as many have left the industry while clubs have been closed throughout the pandemic for jobs with preferable hours, while the departure of workers from the EU has also compounded the problem.
The bosses of nightclub operator Rekom UK and the Revolution bar chain also told the PA news agency that the shortage was an urgent concern.
Peter Marks, managing director of Rekom UK, a 42-site company, which operates brands such as Pryzm and Atik, said the problem “has grown slowly but has become so much worse since the pandemic”.
He told PA: “It has been a real struggle at times, but luckily we have often been able to push back the security agencies to find the teams we need just in time.
“But even then, on a couple of occasions, we had to limit the number of sites because of the security levels.
“We are, however, in a particularly strong position as we can accept to hire more staff – this hits independent clubs particularly hard.”
Mr Marks added that the shortage has led to an increase in personnel costs as companies face a litany of other cost increases such as higher energy bills and a rebound in VAT levels.
“I think the cost has increased by around 15%,” he said.
“But it’s a little different everywhere. In a place like Dartford where we’re the only club it might not be that much, but in big cities like Nottingham it gets very competitive trying to secure these staff. “
Mr Marks said the issue came amid “roaring commerce” as people return to clubs for the first time since before the pandemic.
The NTIA stressed that security personnel at the sites are “essential for public safety” as it called for government action.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the professional body, said: “If the shortages continue to worsen, there is a good chance that it will become a threat to public safety.
“As in other sectors currently experiencing shortages, this is a long-term problem and the decline in security resources can be followed for at least three years, but it has been greatly exacerbated by the pandemic,” many licensed staff leaving the area when bars and clubs closed and now choose not to return.
“Brexit hasn’t helped either, but it’s far from the only factor at play here.
“There are steps the government can take to alleviate the problem, whether it’s funding training initiatives, streamlining new training requirements, or tackling shortages through legislation – and I would also like to see them reconsider the issue of temporary visas to alleviate the crisis. “
Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars, also told PA that the group saw a “particular problem” when hiring security personnel for the venues.