Friday, March 19, 2010

It’s Not Just The Alcohol, It’s The Attitude

EDITORIAL FRIDAY 19.03.10.
When you go out to celebrate a happy occasion or just celebrate the end of the week, there are a few things that most of us take for granted. One is that everybody else who is also out will share a simple desire just to have a good time. Instead, it seems that there is no shortage of idiots who get aggressive when they get drunk. Another thing that we like to take for granted is the idea that the people who are employed as security guards, doormen, or bouncers are there to protect us from those idiots and to look after our safety. Unfortunately these are not necessarily things that we can, or should, take for granted.

Figures released yesterday by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show that more than 10 percent of assaults that take place on licensed premises are perpetrated by employees of those premises, usually security guards – the very people who are supposed to be looking out for our safety and well being. The Deputy Director of the Bureau, Jackie Fitzgerald has been quoted by the Telegraph as describing this as a “serious concern”. She said, “It seems some security guards are performing their jobs with a lot more enthusiasm than they need to. That is really concerning because these people are in a position of authority and a position of power. Some of these people seem to be abusing that.”

This has led to calls for further improvements to both training and regulation of security guards. While security guards in New South Wales are already required to undergo more training than most other states, there are concerns about the consistency of the quality of that training. Just clocking up the required number of hours in a training course isn’t enough if the individual involved isn’t someone who is equipped with a suitable temperament or sufficient wits. Having the appropriate attitude is just as important as having the right aptitude.

Of course, the majority of assaults on licensed premises are not committed by security guards, but by members of the public who become violent thugs when they are drunk. Once again it is the minority who cause the trouble, but when they do it becomes a problem for everyone. As I have said many times before, plenty of people can drink without becoming violent, so it’s not just the alcohol, it’s the attitude. While regulating trading hours, increasing police numbers, improving public transport, and restricting the use of glass can all play a part in making a night out safer for us all, the only real way to fix the problem is to fix the attitude.