Before the venue opens it is often common practice to conduct a pre-entry search. This ensures the fire exits are clear and unlocked, the lighting is operational, and there are no obvious hazards. When closing the venue the search will be done again to ensure there are no customers left on the premises and that there are no suspicious packages or other items (such as lost property) left behind.
One specific role for the door supervisor is to act as a filter, preventing the entrance of unsuitable people or objects, as it is often safer to prevent them from coming onto the premises than to try to remove them later. Searching people as they enter premises is an important aspect of this role. The door supervisor may be required to search customers and it is important they follow correct procedures in doing so in order to protect personal privacy and avoid embarrassment or aggressive situations.
Safely searching a person is a practical skill and this should be practised with an experienced colleague. The following points are good practice:
WHICHEVER TYPE OF SEARCH IS BEING CONDUCTED, THE PROCEDURE IS THE SAME.The door supervisor should first explain why the search is being requested and, where appropriate, draw the person’s attention to the conditions of entry or other basis for the search being requested.
Consent must be obtained before the search is carried out. If at any point the customer objects to being searched, the door supervisor must stop immediately. If a search is done by force without the customer’s permission, the door supervisor could be prosecuted for assault.
Any person who refuses to be searched should not be allowed entry onto the premises. If a person already on the premises is suspected of possessing a prohibited item, or other breach of the conditions of entry, and they refuse to be searched, then they should be asked to leave. If they refuse they become a trespasser and can be removed using such force as is reasonable and necessary.
During the search it is important for the door supervisor to have a colleague as a witness if possible. If there is CCTV coverage of the premises then it is good practice for searches to be carried out in the area covered by the cameras. The colleague can then assist should the customer become aggressive and act as a witness against any allegations made by the customer.
If the search involves physical contact it must be done by a door supervisor who is the same gender as the customer. Some searches like ‘self-searching’, searching only bags or using a metal detector are not required to be same gender as they do not involve touching the person being searched.
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