Holly Phillips explores the recent events, speaking to the victims involved.
Recently, there have been multiple concerns regarding the safety of club-goers. Cases of spiking have risen and, more specifically, there has been a surge in cases of spiking via injection. It is becoming increasingly difficult to feel safe when going to a bar or a club. So, it is sad, and also truly terrifying, to hear that there has also been a rise in the concerns surrounding the actions of bouncers, the people who are supposed to keep us safe.
Not too long ago, two females and one male were the victims of an alleged incident that occurred at the nightclub, Stealth, in Nottingham. Video footage posted online showed bouncers physically abusing all three victims. The recording displayed one bouncer forcing one woman up against a metal gate, with his hands wrapped around her neck and face, whilst she cried out “get off me”, multiple times. The camera then panned to the other woman being thrown against the floor by another bouncer.
I spoke to Sophie Hildred, one of the victims of the incident. Sophie said that her boyfriend, who she was with at the club, had been subjected to racial abuse with the bouncers reportedly labelling him “big nose” and shouting “I am going to punch you in your big lips”.
These racial comments made by the bouncer classify as a form of hate crime. According to the Criminal Prosecution Service, the law recognises five types of hate crime and one of them is on the basis of race. Any crime can be prosecuted as a hate crime if the offender has either demonstrated hostility based on race or been motivated by hostility based on race. Bouncers, or anyone of that matter, should not discriminate and should certainly not be preaching violence towards an innocent human.
Sophie said that she defended her boyfriend just before one of the bouncers "shouted in [her] face, calling [her] ugly and throwing [her] into a moving taxi". She continued "when I fell to the floor, he continued kicking me in the lower stomach, resulting in bleeding". Sophie then stated that she used self defence to "hit the bouncer back" before being thrown to the floor again.
The law does not allow bouncers to engage in excessive force or violence as they see fit. Bouncers are only legally allowed to assert force if someone uses it against them first. The bouncer rules and regulations fall under the same right to use self defence in the UK. Therefore, their rights are the same as any member of the public.
Self defence law, set out in the case if Palmer v R (1971) states that “it is both good law and good sense that a man [or any human] who is attacked may defend themself. It is both good law and good sense that he may do, but only do what is reasonably necessary”. In this situation, it was not ‘reasonably necessary’ for the bouncer to pin a woman up against a metal gate or throw a woman across the floor, and kick her in her stomach until she bleeds.
When explaining what happened to the other woman in the incident, Sophie said that her friend, Niamh Watson, "tries to record their faces and badges so we can report them for racism, her phone is thrown across the floor".
Sophie said that Niamh was then "dragged by her hair across the floor by a bouncer twice her size. He then pins her up against the fence. You can hear in her voice how much pain and fear she’s experiencing".
"After the video, multiple bouncers proceed by punching Joe in the face and kicking him in the ribs whilst he’s on the floor, resulting in Joe's nose and lip bleeding and bruising".
"Police turned up, refusing to take statements and make a report because we’d been drinking despite having video evidence along with the awful visual injuries the bouncers had caused”
According to Legal Match, if you are assaulted by a bouncer, you will be able to make a claim of assault and battery. They say that it may also be possible to sue the establishment that employs the bouncer on the grounds of negligent hiring, negligent retention or negligent supervision.
When I asked her how the incident made her feel, she said that "it’s just upsetting but it’s also the reality of modern society. Nothing will even really change, I don’t think."
It is common that people who are in these situations are not listened to because society is so used to believing people in positions of power, especially when those people happen to be men. Our generation are frequently labelled as ‘snowflakes’, meaning someone who is overly sensitive. It can be tiring for people who are, unfortunately, victims of these offences to not be listened to and to be told that what they have suffered isn’t an issue worth investigating.
The BBC reported days later that the bouncers at Stealth were “suspended after Nottingham altercation video shared”. They also reported that the DHP Family, who run the club, made a statement claiming "we understand how distressing [the videos] are and have taken the immediate decision to suspend the door staff involved while we carry out an investigation"
"We will also be reviewing Professional Security, the company which is contracted to provide security staff, to assess its suitability to continue supplying door staff to our venues... this will include looking at their conduct and training".
When I asked Sophie what she thinks can be done to prevent this in the future, she said “I think more severe punishments will prevent it. A criminal record so people know that it is taken seriously and future opportunities as well”.
Recently, Refinery 29 reported that it is “entirely possible for an SIA [Security Industry Authority] to have a history of committed violent or sexual crimes because this does not bar them from being granted a license”.
A Home Office spokesperson then told Refinery 29 that, according to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, which is designed to allow those who have spent their convictions to re enter society fairly, means it would be discriminatory for bouncers to be refused licenses.
There have also been many issues in Leeds of bouncers incorrectly carrying out their duties. One case consisted of bouncers not allowing people back into clubs when they have been helping out people who have been spiked, telling the victims that they should have drunk their drink quicker.
When there have been many issues circulating in the UK at the moment, regarding men in the positions of powers, such as police officers, enacting violence upon women, it can be hard to know who to trust with your safety.
This is an alarming issue and actions need to be taken to prevent bouncers abusing their powers. They are stationed to protect people and put others’ best interests first. Instead, the bouncers at Stealth acted shockingly and illegally. It is their job to use their limited powers to ensure that people have a safe night out, not sending them home with bruises, cuts and emotional distress.
Words by Holly Phillips
Photo credit: https://cbjspotlight.co.uk/2018/01/12/are-nottingham-bouncers-abusing-their-power/