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Turning Back the Rising Tide of Abuse Against Security Workers

Turning Back the Rising Tide of Abuse Against Security Workers

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It’s been a frustrating couple of years for everyone. Plenty of surprises, none of which we wanted, have made the 2020s a decade that got off to a pretty memorable start. A sad side effect of all this is that abuse against security workers, retail staff, hospitality staff and others seems to be always on the rise.

We’ve all had to accept a lot of difficult truths in recent times. Many of us have had our freedom restricted, our loved ones’ health in danger or our jobs at risk of ending.

Yet does all this frustration mean people are in the right for venting their anger at people doing frontline work? Of course not.

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Abuse against security workers is never OK

A lot of the focus on the rise of abuse against frontline workers talks about shop assistants, bar staff, bus drivers and other hard workers. That’s excellent, but it misses a very crucial kind of person – door supervisors and security guards.

The nature of security work means that experts like you are put in place to face risks, including confrontational people. Because of that, there’s an expectation that if people turn their abusive behaviour on security professionals like you, it’s “more OK”.

True, security training gives you knowledge on conflict resolution. On a security course, you learn how to persuade angry people to behave more reasonably, how to defuse an escalating argument, and how to physically prevent a very serious crime from taking place.

But just because you have this training, and other kinds of workers don’t, does that mean it’s right that you should have to take the abuse? Of course not. Yes, you’re lucky to know how to stay on top of the situation, but at its worst this problem essentially makes security professionals scapegoats. That simply shouldn’t be the case.

How to control the situation when abuse is coming your way

Your job shouldn’t have to involve the level of insults and abuse that it sometimes does. Even so, some people simply don’t take the feelings of other people into consideration. Unfortunately, that means it’s up to us to handle things in the moment as best as we can.

Luckily, your security training course will have given you plenty of skills to control conflicts already. Yet as skills fade and tensions get higher in society, a few extra tools definitely help.

Firstly, remember it’s not about you, but what you represent to the person raising their voice. For example, someone screaming abuse at a shop assistant because there’s no more soya milk is upset about the soya milk, not the person. That doesn’t make their behaviour right, but the anger comes about because basically, they want something and someone else told them they couldn’t have it.

If it sounds childish, that’s probably because it is. Yet security professionals are trusted by the public and their employers to keep people like this calm.

So secondly, be the voice of reason in any dispute. Sadly, someone who is shouting abuse won’t leave any subject untouched. That means sexism, racism and other prejudices come out in the open. The key to is stay stoic and not let any of it touch you.

Remember, your job is just as much about reassuring people around you. If you’re getting shouted at and called names, and everyone can see you staying calm, who do you think everyone else around the incident is going to think is the idiot? More than that, who do you think they’re going to respect for keeping their cool?

Which brings us to the third skill, which is thinking strategically. Nowadays, everyone has a phone, and that also means everyone has a camera. Someone abusing security professionals or shop workers for long enough invariably ends up filmed. Videos like that can go viral in under an hour.

At the same time, videos of security professionals behaving unprofessionally can go just as viral, for all the wrong reasons. Tune out of the incident you’re in for a second, and think how you want this moment to be remembered when it’s over. You’ll be surprised how often that inspires you to take calm, decisive action.

To stop abuse against security workers, the industry needs to step up

The tips in this article, as well as ongoing security training, can help door supervisors and security guards to react well in heated moments. But as rising abuse against essential workers, even healthcare professionals, sees more security professionals working to keep people safe, is ‘passing the buck’ of abuse from one group to another fair?

It’s true that security professionals get specialist training to control confrontation. It’s also true that, unlike staff who work in other industries, security professionals are able to use appropriate force to prevent violence to themselves or people around them if necessary.

Yet we should be doing more to honour and protect security professionals who put themselves at risk to keep our businesses, events and public spaces safe. We need to make sure abuse against security workers is never taken for granted as ‘just another thing’ in this sector.

For example, news that abuse against retail workers is now a criminal offence in Scotland is a fantastic step forward. But ideas like this need to get going more proactively, and also extend to cover security professionals too. If the industry and the government aren’t fully protecting security professionals, how can this industry ever hope to stop the shortage of security professionals working today?

Luckily, the security industry is doing plenty to make sure that your work is recognised and respected. Publishing reports that show the world the challenges you face, raising wages to pay you your worth for the work you do and ensuring you have support in your Top-Up Training are all brilliant steps forward to take.

But at the end of the day, it’s all about you, the protection you offer and how safe you feel doing it. You have every right to feel confident, supported and encouraged on your shift, and Get Licensed is at your side every step of the way.

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