Friday, December 22, 2006


Not been posting for a while as nothing particularly eventful happened - Friday nights have been as feral as always, have been fighting with drunks and carrying on as usual with zero motivation and looking for better jobs. In the interim, I went to a couple of staff and Christmas parties with free drinks, where I remembered that, even though the job itself is driving me insance, the people I work with on the whole are a pretty good bunch. However, one can't stay where one is just for the people.

This particular Friday, however, I managed to obtain a series of injuries that will see me off on full pay for at least a week.

Came on at 6pm and there was already a fight in one of the more notorious pubs. We attended, threw people out and all was well. Managerial wisdom, however, held that, even though it was the Friday before Christmas, there would be no changes to officers on fixed positions. Meaning that this notorious pub, already full to bursting and having gone off very early in the day, would not have any dedicated officers on the doors or inside the pub roving around. Thus it fell to a colleague who was also free for that hour, a manager in on overtime and I to help look after the place. In the short space of forty minutes or so, we threw about six people out, prevented a whole load more from re-entering, and re-removed several who did get past us when we weren't looking. Fantastic - fire-fighting security on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

An hour or so later, a huge guy standing at around 6ft 8 decided that he wasn't going to listen to a colleague's request to leave an entrance he had been refused entry to. He eventually turned towards the door, but then snapped back and assaulted the officer. He was floored, eventually, by about 6 of us, and was still putting up one hell of a struggle. We got him up and tried to get him to the office, which he made as difficult as possible. When finally inside the main entrance and near the office, he gripped the handrails and refused to let go. Then, when we finally got him away from that, he dragged himself into a corner between the security office and one of the entry doors. Those who were on him were having trouble moving him, so I grabbed the top of his head via his hair and manipulated his head to help effect his movement towards the office. Where the head goes, the body follows, so it helped move him. Unfortunately, the boss wasn't too happy, as it looked like I was pulling his hair. Well, had he not refused to leave, not assaulted staff and made it extremely difficult to move him, the move would not have been necessary.

After that, we were requested to attend the same notorious pub as before, following reports of aggressive males. Since company policy dictates, fairly reasonably, that we need at least three officers per person to remove, we had to wait for additional officers to turn up. Whilst waiting, yet another fight broke out in the pub. Personally I wasn't surprised - they pack the place to the rafters, ply them with booze and we operate no sort of crowd control system in terms of taking account of numbers or capacity. Oh, apologies, we do - we click people in and out. Yeah, that makes it ok. Or, if it's clearly spilling out with people, we might have a 'one in, one out' policy way after it is plainly apparent that it is too full, instead of maintaining a decent control policy from the start.

We run into the pub, and see at least three or four blokes fully at it, fists and all. We try to separate them, with difficulty. Unfortunately, because of the managerial obssession (and indeed paranoia) about image and presentation, we wear nothing that clearly identifies us as security, save for an earpiece and a credit card-sized ID badge. So, if you're fighting, and you find yourself being pulled away, you won't know it's security unless you already know who security are/look like. When it's dimly lit, like this pub is, it's merely dark shapes attempting to forecefully dissuade you from effecting your just desserts on people. A colleague and I got one male off the others, and nearly had to throw him against a wall to get him away. He was very, very violent, lashing out and throwing himself around. We flanked him on each side and attempted to get him out the door, with him doing his level best to make it difficult for us, throwing us from side to side if he could. The side of my head hit a wooden door frame quite hard, then a few steps later I fel my right knee go, and suddenly walking became extremely difficult and painful. Luckily we were nearly outside the pub, so I used every last ounce of energy left to get the violent male out the door and down the steps, shove him backwards to create space and collapse on the floor, no longer able to put any weight on my left leg. A crowd of patrons had gathered as they'd heard or seen the commotion, so to collapse in front of them probably didn't look good. However, by that stage image was the last thing on my mind. Fortunately, my colleagues called for one of our in-house medics, qualified industrial paramedics, to attend, and assisted with getting me to the office in a wheelchair, where an ambulance was called and I was carted off to hospital.

The upshot of it all is that, after many X-rays, I have soft tissue damage to my head, a strained knee ligament and a possible bone displacement or fracture that may need surgery fairly soon. I'm off for at least one week, with that being reviewed after attending another consultation late next week. I'm on crutches and wear a big padded leg splint.

Eight hours in the waiting room saw me witnessing scenes which further reinforced my view that, if I run the world, I will be re-introducing Prohibition but would do a better job of enforcing it than the US did. I also saw a police officer admitted who had been spat blood in the face by a 'client', that client likely being infected. One patient started boasting about the door staff he'd taken down with him whilst sustaining his injuries.

I also had plenty of time to contemplate why the hell I've bothered serving in the police and, now, in private security, getting paid poor money (or not at all) to regularly encounter dangerous situations and people, with very little gratitude or appreciation shown by either the general public, management or the people we 'save' other people from. Often, we get the opposite of gratitude and are chided for doing our jobs. Or not doing them, depending on your point of view. Once again, I've wound up in hospital with injuries and am likely to be off for a while. Holistically speaking, neither the money nor the kudos it puts on my CV and on job application forms make it worthwhile anymore. It is simply too much of a risk to my long-term health and life prospects for a remuneration level that is laughable. Croupiers/dealers get paid significantly more than us! The 'serving people' motivation has long since died, to be replaced by a cynical desire to attempt to keep the morons that make everyone else's lives a misery. Since that is a losing battle as well, I keep trying to find reasons why I still turn up to work. It used to be the money, as weekend penalty rates were half decent, but after being injured, even that's not enough now.

The place I work at is becoming increasingly dangerous, and it's not just the usual Christmas silly season. The corporate paranoia over image and liability takes precedence over practical job delivery. It is now at the stage that I no longer feel safe when at work, owing to short staffing, ineffective rostering, nonsensical policies and a lack of personal protective equipment and any sort of training. I don't feel management will back me up if I use my discretion or interpret guidelines/policy against how they believe it to be interpreted or if I should face any action outside of work for anything I do inside work. For someone to say this after serving in the police in a city with one of the highest rates of violent crime in the UK is certainly something. If the company wants us to deal with violent patrons and extremely hostile situations, where we are often outnumbered, without breaching 'image', which directly impacts on our level of personal safety because 'image' dictates how we approach situations and deal with people, then I'm increasingly of the view they can do so without my efforts.

Merry Christmas to anyone who reads this blog. Fortunately, I no longer have to work Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day night, so I shall spend it with my family, leg elevated and in a splint.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Disillusionment - it doesn't take long!

In the course of one night, my enthusiasm for the job managed to dwindle to zero. I'm now looking for other work.

Here's a few reasons why:

Western Australia, being backward to the rest of the civilised world, only recently decided to join everyone else and introduce daylight saving on a trial basis, starting from 2am (3am) this morning. It was decried by those who claimed abuse of democratic process, on the grounds that, 16 years ago, people voted against it in a referendum. 16 years ago, society existed in a different state and a whole generation of people were unable to exercise their say in the matter. But apparently, the decision should never be reviewed again. However, I digress.

When the clocks were moved forward from 2am to 3am, we would, in effect, lose an hour's pay. This was something I could live with, but it also meant the licensed premises, specifically the bars and nightclub, would stay open to between 4 and 5.30am. Clearly, security management didn't anticipate or plan for this, resulting in a panic when, at 3am, they realised that they didn't have anybody standing on the doors. It thus fell to us poor shmucks to take up the slack. Normally, we rotate between one hour's 'roving', in which we also take our breaks, and one hour on a fixed point, usually a door to one of the various establishments. I had the extraordinary honour of being given four hours of consecutive fixed points. Commencing from my completion of an hour's 'roving' in a fixed location, which is essentially a fixed point with a little more mobility (contradictory as that may sound) in a themed pub, I was then placed on the door of said pub. An hour later, I was asked to go to a somewhat distant location to relieve an officer so he could take his break. Thanks to the travelling time for all involved, I ended up standing on the door for forty minutes. Whilst on the way back, I was told to take a break before my next scheduled 'fixie'. Again, thanks to travelling time, this translated into a ten minute break. Had I taken my full fifteen minute entitlement, I would have been late for that fixie, which would have resulted in whoever I was to relieve complaining that they were relieved late. Towards the end of that fixie, I was informed that I had to stay on the other door of the themed pub from which I had stood before. So, in reality, it was more like five hours, if one counts the hour of 'fixed roving' in the themed pub. When I asked why this hadn't been anticipated in advance, I was greeted with indifference and answers of "It's always like this", "Tough" and "There aren't enough staff". Fantastic - nice to know the issues are being tackled.

This series of events compounded the frustration I was enduring from an incident that had occurred earlier in the night. A group of four males, rejected from the themed pub due to being intoxicated and aggressive, attempted to get in the secondary casino entrance, and had been knocked back from there. Abusing the staff and threatening to charge the door, they moved to the main entrance of the casino, on which I was stood. One of them then decided to stroll through the door, hoping that, since it wasn't the same officers as had been on the other doors, we would not recognise him. He had not accounted for several thousand surveillance cameras or a radio network in which the doors inform each other as to who they'd knocked back and who to look out for.

We asked him to stop, and he carried on. As he was committing the offence of trespass, since we had withdrawn his right to remain in the premises, we took hold of him to stop him from entering further. He began to arc up, pushing against my colleague. Two more officers turned up, dragged him out and shoved him against the door, where they pinned him until he calmed down. Meanwhile, his three other mates came in to try and confront the officers, and were advised to stay back by reinforcements who had arrived. He calmed down and was removed, and was told to stay outside and not enter any part of the building. I was relieved from the door, but remained in the area should he try and come back. A few minutes later, he returned. This time there were two female officers on the door. I approached the male, who was pretending to read a sign next to the door. My suspicions were aroused when he deliberately looked over or around me as I approached him, even though I was straight in front of him. Either he was on drugs, or he knew damn well he shouldn't be there and was trying to see how much he could get away with. I told him that he had been knocked back several times, had tried to charge the door and had been explicitly told he could not be in the area. I asked him to leave through the door, gesticularting accordingly for the benefit of surveillance. He refused to leave. I tried several times, fully explaining why I was asking him to leave, each time to no avail. Eventually he moved to near the glass doors inside the main entrance, next to two shallow steps down. He again refused to leave, and started to become aggressive, stepping up to me and challenging me. Given what had happened before, I feared for my safety and, since he had been uncooperative, needed to both get him out and create space between him and I. I gave him a palm heel strike to move him back, accompanied by me shouting at him to stay back and leave the area immediately. He stepped back and down a step, still on his feet. He left. Job done. A few minutes later I was called in to see the boss - apparently surveillance complained that they thought I had been too heavy handed. My justifications fell on deaf ears and I was told off.

Last time I checked, surveillance weren't my bosses. They sit in an office high above the gaming floor and only see, not hear, what is happening. They have no idea of context or what is actually happening at the time, yet see fit to pass judgements about things they have no experience of themselves. They're also clearly not on the side of the employees, something that was reinforced by both other security officers and croupiers who had dealt with surveillance whilst trying to solve gaming disputes.

Once again, management show they are too spineless to actually allow us to get on with the job of performing security duties. Whilst, in the majority of cases, most people can be spoken to and persuaded to do things, there are instances in which they will not comply, are aggressive and threatening and can cause an officer to fear for their safety. It would seem, however, that management do not condone us using any force on patrons, unless it is the 'approved' techniques which I have not yet been taught. The reason for this is simple - they are scared. They are scared of being sued, as if initiation of legal action against the employer means that the employer has lost by default, when it should instead be viewed as the opportunity to present, justify, explain and defend one's actions. Most likely they fear court action because of negative PR. It therefore logically follows that they would rather we be seen to have no control of the situation, including risking being junured, than to be seen to gain control of the situation even though it doesn't 'look good'. This was something that was implicitly imparted to me, and is a style of working that I do not agree with and cannot work under. Screw them, I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

If I am placed in a position in which I have to regularly deal with drunk, aggressive, abusive and physical patrons, I should be afforded the discretion to deal with the situation in a way that is justified and proportionate, and to be able to be supported by my colleagues and managers accordingly. This is obviously not the case at this place of work, and it has been made clear by management that if any action arises from anything we do, and the matter is taken further, we are left to fight it on our own. This complete lack of support removes any incentive or motivation to perform the job, care about the patrons we protect and/or deal with or go above and beyond what is required of us. Instead, as mere drones expected to blindly comply with prescriptive policy irrespective of circumstance, we are expendable. At the same time, I also expect to be damned if I do and damned if I don't.

Case in point - earlier that evening, a senior gaming officer followed a female out of the main door, pointed her out to be and said that she had assaulted a male who was now bleeding. Pending finding the male and ascertaining whether or not he wanted to press charges, I asked her to accompany me to the security office whilst we investigated the matter, which she did of her own accord. It became quickly clear that it was a domestic and that, when we found the male, he didn't want to press charges. I was then told off by one of the managers for bringing her into the office. Instead, I should have tried to ascertain what had happened by taking her to one side outside the main entrance before taking her in. Quite aside from the fact that questioning someone about a criminal offence in a public place is hardly the best way of conducting an initial investigation, there was every chance that she could have complained of the indignity of doing so, and I would have been told off for not bringing her in the office. Furthermore, had she decided to leave and the male wanted to press charges, I would have been told off for not detaining her.

I get the distinct impression management exist only to screw us, which, combined with the constant ignoring of any justifications or explanations for actions as well as not receiving ANY formal training on how to do the job, as well as a complete lack of support, has completely destroyed any interest I have in the job. From now on, I shall simply act in a completely detached and uninvolved manner. No longer caring about the patrons, only intervening in fights if colleagues are threatened and blindly following procedure without question. I shall become the unthinking drone that they desire, until I am able to find something better. Which, with my background and experience, won't take long. It is, believe it or not, even worse here than it was in the police in the UK. I am getting the impression that I think too much and am too independent to work in this increasingly over-prescriptive and unncessarily procedurally standardised industry unless I am in management. If I do stay in, I will no longer be working in an environment in which I am expected to deal with dangerous situations but management go out of their way to prevent me from doing so effectively.