Home Door Supervisor The Black Market Bouncers of the UK Nightlife Industry
The Black Market Bouncers of the UK Nightlife Industry

The Black Market Bouncers of the UK Nightlife Industry


Watching society reopen has been a fantastic thing. Many of us are making sure we take each step forward safely. Unfortunately though, that also means rulebreakers like ‘black market bouncers’ are putting the safety and reputation of the security sector in jeopardy.

Reports have continued to hit the media ever since Freedom Day in July about illegal security work happening all over the UK. This rule-breaking is happening because the demand for security professionals all over the country is incredibly high.

Yet as we’ll now explore, this kind of short-term thinking carries the risk of doing huge harm to security professionals, the reputation of the industry, and businesses in UK nightlife overall.

Black market bouncers are a symptom of a frustrated nightlife industry

Why have these so-called ‘black market bouncers’ come about? In the security industry, there have always been a few companies who don’t play by the rules. Yet the pressures of the security shortage have, unfortunately, made this a much bigger problem nowadays.

Security professionals working at one venue are getting cash-in-hand offers to leave their posts and immediately begin working at another. Businesses who need security staff immediately are hiring unlicensed door supervisors off the books. Companies are quickly getting security staff onsite for ‘appearances’, with no regulations, protective strategies or legal protections in place.

If we try and imagine things from nightclubs’ point of view, the frustration is understandable. It doesn’t justify breaking the law, but after over a year of setbacks and sudden new rules to juggle, nightlife is a sector that is struggling. Unfortunately, this seems to be motivating many businesses to not do the right thing.

Why are black market bouncers a problem?

Some people might be content to turn a blind eye to illegal door supervisor activities. Clubbers are being kept safe, Covid Passports are (hopefully) getting checked, and businesses are fulfilling their obligations to have security professionals onsite. Better yet, people are earning decent money. Where’s the harm?

Well… where to begin? For one thing, a huge number of these black market bouncers are unlicensed. That’s a massive problem, because people who don’t have an SIA Licence are putting themselves and everyone around them at risk. You can’t just stand someone at the door as a box-ticking exercise and hope the night’s business goes smoothly.

An SIA Licence isn’t just about having the legal go-ahead to work in security, either. It’s proof that a government authority has assessed someone’s ability to work as a security professional. That includes someone having taken a security course that’s prepared them for the physical, mental and legal needs of the job.

Unlicensed security workers are high-risk

Security training is more than just how to search suspicious people or settle down arguments in a bar. It’s also about specialist equipment, strategic thinking and first aid knowledge.

In fact, because first aid training is now required of door supervisors, you can imagine how high a risk an unlicensed bouncer is. If an emergency hits, who can a nightclub then trust?

The short-term gains of breaking the rules aren’t worth the long-term dangers. People visiting a club staffed by unlicensed security professionals are unknowingly at risk if the worst should happen. Black market bouncers themselves might be laughing on the way to the bank right now, but they can also guarantee their employers will deny all knowledge of them if put under any legal pressure.

Earn, empower and protect the right way

Solving the UK security shortage is frustrating for nightlife venues. The sector has been trapped by the events of the pandemic for so long that it’s understandable why there’s such desperation. Nonetheless, we’d strongly advise more long-term thinking, and to remember that businesses have a responsibility for the safety of their visitors.

A focus on solutions that solve the problem ‘for now’ aren’t going to do businesses, customers or security professionals any favours. Do the right thing. Get licensed. Staff your venue with the best security talent in the UK.

And more than anything else, black market bouncers prove the huge demand in the UK private security industry. People who want to earn up to £2,500 per month full time, and to know their work makes a positive difference, can get to work fast. But it’s best to do this through the official way, with a legally enforced SIA Licence.

Recovering from the pandemic is hitting us all hard, but we have to also remember the responsibility we have to keep one another safe. We advise our allies in the security industry to remember the value of what they provide as a service – and that cutting corners in a job sector about protecting people never has a happy ending.


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