Requirement to employ door staff
Under the Licensing Act 2003 a premises licence may require you to employ door staff. If this is the case they must be SIA registered and a failure to employ licensed staff may lead to prosecution and the revocation of your licence. The Local Authority has a wide discretion to place conditions on the grant of a premises licence. These might include provisions for maintaining public order, such as a condition to provide door staff.

SIA Registration
Since 2005 it has been illegal to work as a door supervisor without a licence issued by the Security Industry Authority or to employ someone in this role without one.  Although police checks carried out over the last couple of years have found that compliance levels are very high, some licencees do still employ unlicensed staff and should be aware that  the maximum penalty is six months in prison and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

Licences required
Door supervisor
A door supervisor working in a pub or most other licensed premises open to the public will need a frontline licence from the SIA.  The individual must complete the required level of training before such a licence can be issued. 

Note – change to training requirements: from June 2010 additional elements are introduced such as dealing with underage drinkers and awareness of how to handle the threat of terrorism will be introduced.  In addition, the Government is currently consulting on proposals to require door staff applying to renew their licence after June 2011 to undertake top-up training.  The top-up training will cover additional physical skills to help reduce potential harm to the public, first aid awareness, considerations when dealing with 14-18 year olds and awareness of terrorist activities.  The consultation also asks whether there should be a requirement for regular refresher training in physical skills.  If the proposals are implemented then the cost of a licence is likely to rise sharply.

A licensee can either directly employ door staff or he can pay an agency to supply them to him.  If agency staff are used the licensee still has an obligation to ensure that staff are SIA licensed.  If staff are employed directly by the licensee, then the licensee will need to hold a non-frontline licence.  If an agency is used to supply staff then this obligation does not apply. This is strictly enforced – a licensee inBurton was fined in early 2010 for not holding a frontline licence when she ceased using agency staff and started to directly employ door staff herself. 

Whether a bar manager or licensee  needs an SIA licence themself is not clear cut and it will depend on their role.

  • If the licensee/manager  employs and supervises door staff but does not work as a doorman a non-frontline licence is required. 
  • Where an agency is used to supply door staff and the licensee/manager does not work as a doorman then no licence is required.

Confusion can arise if the licensee/manager stays behind the bar rather than standing at the door, but bars someone and asks the door staff to remove him.  This doesn’t necessarily appear licensable unless he is also involved in frontline activities e.g. removal or screening of customers at the door.  If the licensee/manager is actually involved in physically removing people from the premises then he will require a frontline licence.

Further information
Can be found on the SIA website

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.