By Raya Al Jadir and John Pring
The security industry is facing accusations that its training and policies take almost no account of disabled people, and risk subjecting them to repeated discrimination at the hands of bouncers and other security staff.
Disability News Service (DNS) has discovered that key documents laying out what the industry regulation body expects from “security operatives” make no reference to disabled people at all, while others make only fleeting references.
The concerns were raised in the wake of an incident in which disabled campaigner Gary Mazin (pictured) was allegedly assaulted by a door supervisor and refused admission to a bar in London because he was with his guide dog Gibson.
A bouncer kept shouting “no dogs” at him, even after being told Gibson was a guide dog, and then pushed Mazin in the chest as he tried to move forward.
After other customers supported Mazin, the doorman agreed to consult the bar manager and he was eventually allowed inside to join his friends.
Following the incident on 8 January at The Fire Station bar, near Waterloo station, Mazin told DNS the experience had convinced him that there was widespread, unlawful disability discrimination by security staff.
The user-led charity he works for, Enhance the UK, has now launched a campaign to ensure that security operatives receive the same disability equality training as staff inside venues such as bars and nightclubs.
Mazin, the charity’s head of marketing, said: “This is clearly a big problem and one that is making lives of people with disabilities even harder, when trying to access the same services as everyone else.”
The Security Industry Authority (SIA), which regulates the private security industry on behalf of the Home Office, told DNS that disability equality issues were covered by the specifications it has laid out for training security operatives, in documents on its website.
But a detailed examination of those documents by DNS has shown almost no mention of disability or disabled people.
The document relating to information that all security operatives need to know makes just one mention of disability – in the appendix – pointing out that they should not discriminate, including on the grounds of disability.
The specialist module for door supervisors also makes only one mention of disability, stating that candidates must be able to describe the “additional considerations” they need to take account of when searching disabled people.
But the section relating to door supervisors in the “communication skills and conflict management” module has no mention of disability at all, while the physical intervention module also makes no mention of disabled people or disability.
An SIA spokesman said: “The development of the training specification for SIA licence linked qualifications has been made following consultation with the private security industry.
“We will continue to collaborate with those we regulate to improve the quality of our work.”
He added: “We are committed to tackling equality and diversity issues. We carry out regular monitoring to ensure that our equality processes are working.”
He then admitted that SIA reviews its training only every five years, and that the consultation for the latest review had already closed.
When asked whether SIA believed that it needed to improve the disability equality elements of training within the industry, he repeatedly refused to answer.
The Home Office, to which SIA reports, had – by noon today (4 February) – refused to say whether it was concerned about the lack of focus on disability in SIA’s training documents, and whether it would take any action to ensure the industry improves its record on disability equality.
Mazin is now pushing SIA to hold talks about the issue.
He said: “This problem lies with the governing body, who are responsible for ensuring that people they give the qualifications to have the bare minimum of the awareness of the law.
“I’ve been in touch with the SIA myself and it seems there’s a long way to go to ensure that the SIA are more compliant with the law.”
He added: “It’s quite shocking that this has been allowed to slip through and it really should be addressed as soon as possible.”
TSS Security, which manages the door staff at The Fire Station, said the training specifications laid out by SIA included no reference to “any kind of training on how to manage a situation involving a less able bodied individual”.
But TSS’s own one-page “disability policy” appears to be years out of date and repeatedly refers to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), and makes no mention of the Equality Act, which replaced the DDA in 2010.
A TSS spokesman said: “I am aware that the Equality Act 2010 and its last update 2015 replaced the DDA.
“I am not aware that our policy does not cover all areas nonetheless and it is reviewed annually.”
Meanwhile, TSS Security has apologised for any distress caused to Mazin, although it disputes the allegation that he was shoved, but admits that “the security operative in question was suspended from the site pending further investigation”.
The Fire Station has “apologised unreservedly” to Mazin for the “temporary misunderstanding” which was “absolutely not in line with our policy in any way whatsoever”.
But the bar claims the incident at the door took “less than one minute” before it was resolved, and that Mazin was then allowed to enter and join his friends inside.