Bouncer shortage poses ‘threat to public safety’, warn clubs as staffing squeeze hits nightlife

People queue up for the Egg nightclub in London, after the final legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England. Credit: PA

Nightclubs are suffering from a growing shortage of bouncers which industry bosses have warned could become a "threat to public safety" if not quickly resolved.

One in five night-life and hospitality businesses had to close last month or operate on reduced hours as a result of a shortage of security staff, according to trade body the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA).

But the NTIA said the situation has "deteriorated further" as consumer demand for nights out continues to soar following the relaxation of Covid rules.

It is now urgently calling for government intervention to tackle the shortage, which, like other parts of the hospitality sector, has been exacerbated by EU staff leaving the UK due to Brexit and pandemic curbs.

"If shortages continue to get worse, there is a very real chance it could become a threat to public safety," Michael Kill, chief executive officer of the NTIA, said.

“Like in other sectors currently seeing shortages, this is a long-term issue and decline in security resources can be tracked back at least three years.

"But this has been hugely exacerbated by the pandemic with many licensed staff leaving the sector when the bars and clubs closed and now choosing not to return."

Mr Kill went on to suggest that temporary visas and more government funding for bouncer training schemes could help ease the problem.

Bouncer shortage poses ‘threat to public safety’, warn nightclubs. Credit: PA

Why is there a shortage of bouncers?

Security worker numbers have become depleted as many left the industry while clubs were closed throughout the pandemic for jobs with preferable hours.

The UK’s largest nightclub operator, Rekom UK, and bar chain Revolution have also reported suffering from a shortage of bouncers.

Peter Marks, chief executive of 42-site business Rekom UK, which runs brands including Pryzm and Atik, said the problem had been “building slowly but has become so much worse since the pandemic”. He told the PA news agency: “It’s been a real struggle at times but we’ve fortunately often been able to push back with security agencies to find the teams we need just in time. “But even then, on one or two occasions we’ve had to limit numbers into venues because of security levels.

“We are in a particularly strong position though as we can agree to take on staff in larger numbers – this is particularly hitting independent clubs hard.”

Mr Marks added that the shortage has resulted in increasing fees for staff, as firms deal with a litany of other cost rises such as higher energy bills and rebounding VAT levels.