Right. I've had it with South Yorkshire Police Farce. I've now witnessed dozens of cases, and know of many others anecdotally, where they have behaved in a completely negligent, bullying, cowardly, abusive - and quite possibly criminal - fashion. I've never seen a Police Farce like it. Its time to start making a record of their actions and this blog is as good a place to do it.
A bit of personal background just to clarify matters - I've worked as a nightclub doorman on and off for over a decade. Truth be told I haven't needed to do the job for years, what with jobs during the day ranging from IT consultant to researcher. I've kept my hand in though because I don't want to go soft and I see tough times ahead. It also confers a lot of social benefits, including having a much better intelligence network in the City than the police have. They could share it if we trusted eachother, but since the introduction of the complete farce and sinkhole of money that is the SIA (Security Industry Authority), relationships between doorstaff and the police in the city have moved rapidly from neutrality to complete distrust. The Police - apparently driven by targets madness - find doorstaff a particularly easy group to score points off and there's no better way to do this than use the threat of the idiot SIA. But that's another story.
This week they took the piss beyond belief. I don't like to litter too many of my blog posts with swearing, in this case however I have to use the expletives to express the rage and frustration at what is occurring - and is largely invisible to the general public.
Wednesday 16th Dec 2009 - Incident 1
Wednesday night they arrive at the club for one of their regular 'harassment rounds'. They said they have come to find drunk people in the club (!!). In they go, search through roughly 1100 people and manage to find one person who, they think, is "too drunk". They drag him out into the freezing weather. He's just wearing a shirt. He seems to sober up pretty rapidly and is compos mentis. He asks if he can go back in to find his friends and get his jacket and wallet (apparently in the care of his friends). On account of his distinctly non-paralytic state the club staff are more than happy to let him back in. The police refuse however. They send him on his way, in the freezing cold, without his friends, jacket or wallet. Presumably because they couldn't stand the possibility that he was actually in a relatively fit state and it was more important to save face than consider his well being.
But wait, there's more.....
There are six police officers stood intimidatingly outside the club. A call comes in over the emergency radio (given to all venues in the City) from another venue. Its kicking off and they need police assistance urgently. The CCTV centre tells them that "there are no units available". Oddly enough our lying eyes can see six "units" doing fuck all stood outside our venue. The member of staff in the box office who looks after the radio comes out to the front and demands that the police go to assist immediately. After a bit of grumbling they piss off.
Ten minutes later they are back, "looking for drunk people", Oh and holding the club responsible for what people half a mile a way are doing through being "too drunk". Meanwhile, calls are coming in again over the emergency radio from the same venue, more desperate this time, saying that the situation is escalating and they really really need the police there. The "units" outside our place stay put, busy "looking for drunk people".
Friday 18th Dec 2009 - Incident 2
The police turn up mob-handed again. Go in for another one of their tours looking for "drunk people". They come out of the club and announce to the staff that the club is "serving alcohol to drunk people". What the fucking fuck? Its a nightclub you stupid cunts. And those who know our venue know that its one of the safest places to be in town drunk or sober. (Meanwhile we have the Gangster's paradise around the corner that attracts gangs from all over the country who regularly attack eachother with champagne bottles, bring knives, guns, set fire to cars outside etc. But they get a clean bill of health from South Yorks Plod...).
Anyway, the "units" announce that they will return in half an hour and if we are still "serving alcohol to drunk people", they will close the venue down.
There aren't words to describe the seething anger at this point.
They turned up again later and planted themselves in a line a few meters away, directly opposite the main entrance to the club. Anyone would think that we had just had a riot at the club. The club's customers come out, as they always do, generally chilled out and happily drunk to be presented with intimidation from our local "units".
I spoke to the club management about it. Apparently the club is coming in for "special treatment". Why? Well the council has decided that the era of cheap alcohol must come to an end in all venues. Our venue doesn't agree and is still providing cheap vodka deals. So, in the absence of any vaguely fucking relevant laws, they decide to engage in harassment.
South Yorkshire Police Farce has form.
I wish these kinds of incidents were the exception rather than the norm with South Yorkshire Police. To my great disappointment they are not. Here's a small selection of other similar incidents recently:
- After talking to staff from other venues it appears that, often on the same nights, there are mysteriously "no units available" when an emergency call goes in. The emergency radio isn't used lightly - calling the police out on it can cause problems when the venue's license is up for review. A particularly low example was when one venue's doorstaff pulled all the customers back in and barred the doors because there was a gang outside brandishing a shotgun. An emergency call went out - apparently the police would not come unless the staff "were sure that it was a real firearm".
- Brett Blake was stabbed to death last year in a city venue. Here's what the news reports didn't mention: The police were already outside the venue in force when it was kicking off inside. They refused to go in. Multiple people were hurt with knife wounds, including staff. The venue in question only had two exits, easily covered. The police could have easily nabbed the people responsible literally red handed. One of the doorstaff who had been fighting to protect customers inside from at least one knife-wielding assailant came out, covered in blood. He demanded that the police go in. They refused. He called them "a bunch of useless bastards". They arrested him.
- About a year back I gave evidence in legal proceedings that directly contradicted the "evidence" provided by one of our wonderful local officers who was trying to climb the greasy pole by getting a club closed down "for not operating a membership scheme for its under 18s night" (n.b. this was an occasional night that was kept completely separately from the adult nights, ending at 8pm....). What, it transpired, the police had been doing is engaging in what I can only describe as "evidence construction". Aside from my testimony as a witness, I also pointed out that if the police are to construct evidence then they might want to use a calendar. The night on which several officers apparently claimed to have seen several youths under 18, (n.b. they didn't actually age check these alleged youths), clearly under the influence of alcohol,(they saw from being sat in their car) and clearly having had attended the under-18s night (there was no under-18s night on the night specified - in fact, the date they gave was for a night renowned throughout the city for having an average age of 35+).
- We had a massive ruck outside the club with a gang of 20-something hoolies. They were throwing bricks, sticks and whatever else they could find at us. A police car had been sat about 200m away watching the whole thing. After the gang had gone, they cruised down and demanded to know what we had done to start it. (This was one of many incidents where police were actually there, witnessing something from beginning to end and letting the assailants walk away scot free).
- We threw three lads out who had been causing trouble inside. When outside the club they threatened two separate groups of people with a knife, then ran up the road, beat up some kids (including one girl) and came back to stand outside the club again. One of the groups called the police. Two officers turned up. Despite multiple witnesses we had to harass them - harass them!! To go and have a word with the lads in question. They didn't even search them, despite allegations from multiple witnesses that they had been threatened with a knife.
- One of our staff was on their own working the early doors for a band. A group of kids came running down the street being chased by another gang Of No Specific Appearance. Our member of staff let the kids hide inside the club and told the following scrotes to fuck off. They did and came back later with two dogs and knives. An emergency call went out. Apparently the police were too busy (at 7pm) to come deal with knife wielding Youths of No Specific Appearance with dogs, threatening to kill a member of staff and do god knows what to a bunch of kids.
I could go on.....these stories go on and on and I'm sick to fucking death of it. And those are just some of my stories - there are plenty of other people in South Yorkshire who could tell you more. So I've resolved to start making a record of every one of these incidents. I've got to the point where I really don't care about my badge any more. Frankly, if you're interested in keeping people in a nightclub safe from predatory criminals and just garden variety dickheads, you're better off being a member of the public than a badged member of door staff. And forget phoning the police for help. I don't understand what we pay the South Yorkshire Police to do except make "normal" people's lives a complete and abject misery.
If it keeps on this way there is going to be some kind of ugly reckoning.