Over the last couple of decades another American institution, the School Prom, has made it across the ‘pond’ to Britain. In Jersey each year, educational establishments ditched the old style school ‘disco’, for glitzy affairs in hotels and party venues. It is to be noted that some schools do still use their own halls that they transform into the prom venue.
Every year the parents of teenagers worry about financing,what has become, a huge money spinner for venues, vehicle hire, clothes shops, hair dressers, nail technicians and spray tan companies. Although, for the boys, the clothing has fairly narrow parameters, for the girls; the sky is the limit. Once their parents have bought the ‘dream dress’, not forgetting matching shoes and clutch bag, many students will opt for expensive hair styles, spray tans, nail art and their mode of transport. Some families will club together on transport ie vintage coach or vehicles that can carry more than one set of prom students, but for some, the aspirations can be much higher such as a high performance super car, military tank and troop transporters etc.; some have been known, in the UK, to have arrived by helicopter.
When the students arrive, they are often met by crowds of pupils, teachers and interested bystanders, especially if in a town central location. These prom pictures then adorne the local media for weeks after and every attendee is treated like a red carpet star.
It is not, however, the prom itself that can cause the problems. Over the years, an event that can be as important, for many of the prom goers, is the ‘AFTER PARTY”. Often held on private premises, these smaller peer groups carry on partying well into the night after they have finished the school run event. Some companies offer security coverage for such after parties, however, there is a heavy demarcation line between the official duties of a qualified door security supervisor, operating on licensed premises under the current Licensing (Jersey) Law 1974, and a ‘Security Operative’ engaged on private unlicensed premises.
On private premises that may have alcohol on them, but do not operate under the Licensing Law, the qualified and badged security operatives have absolutely no jurisdiction. In fact, in my opinion, one should not be wearing a door security badge or SIA (Security Industry Authority) badge (in the UK), while undertaking a private premises security assignment, as this falls outside the terms of reference of one’s licence under the Police run scheme.** In fact, a parent or guardian could actually ask anybody to act as a security operative (ie friend, colleague, relative etc.) as they would have as much power, or actually lack of power, than a ‘badged’ operative in these circumstances.
**Under the Terms & Conditions of the Jersey Door Registration Scheme (JDRS) it states, in the first article (1):
A Door Supervisor is:
“A person employed on licensed premises to regulate and supervise patrons on those premises and to assist the Licensee, his servants or agents, in the maintenance of good order, ensuring public safety and security.”
(Excerpt taken from the official website of the States of Jersey Police)
There is no CIVIL TRESPASS law in Jersey, which means security personnel have no power to eject anyone, even if the householder has ‘given’ them ‘authority’. The authority is meaningless under the Licensing Law. It is to be noted that parents often seek out qualified door staff for peace of mind, in that the people employed are trained personnel, however that doesn’t change the fact that, in these circumstances, they have no ‘legal’ teeth.
There have been known to be after parties that have been left in the hands of ‘appointed adults’ where the parents have gone out for the night and stayed over in a hotel to give their teenage children and their peers some space. Some gatherings (not specifically prom after parties), where teenagers were left to party without adults in attendance (parents or other adults), have resulted in tragic circumstances, caused by consumption of alcohol or illicit substances. So there is an appetite for some adult attendance in or around the venue of a private party but there is very little that a registered security supervisor can do in a legal sense without delving into a minefield of potential problems, such as:
Children under the age of eighteen drinking intoxicating liquor on private premises
There is no law that prevents children under the age of eighteen consuming alcohol within the boundaries of a private premises. Therefore, as a security operative at a teen event on private premises, you have no legal jurisdiction and cannot remove alcohol from any child, nor can you eject anyone or, most importantly, lay your hands on anybody (unless in self defence or the defence of another). You cannot control their behaviour or anything else that they might get up to. In effect; you are impotent as a security guard.
Party goers consuming and/or dealing in illicit substances
There have been occasions when children under eighteen years of age have taken illegal drugs at private house parties. Most parties on private premises do not have ‘security’ but, think of the position this puts anyone working as such at one of these private parties. Some of these gatherings have had tragic outcomes such as the case in the death of Victoria College student Morgan Huelin.
What would you do if you came across a child at a private party, while operating as a private security supervisor, who was in possession of what you suspected to be illegal drugs? You are not a police officer. You have no authority under the JDRS. You literally have nothing. You cannot lay your hands on them or force them to hand the substance over, or even physically eject them. However; what about if you did take possession of an illegal substance at one of these parties? They may have been willing to hand them over. You are now in possession of an illegal substance under the Misuse of Drugs (Jersey) Law 1978, unless you can show that you were on your way immediately to the Police to hand it over and to explain to them how you came by the drugs or, you may decide to go to the bathroom and flush them down the toilet.
Under Article 8(1) of the Misuse of Drugs (Jersey) Law 1978, which covers ‘Restrictions on possession of controlled drugs’ it states:
What would happen, do you suspect, if you had taken some illegal drugs off a child, put them in your pocket for safe keeping, then went home after your shift while forgetting all about them being in your possession?
I suspect that you would have some explaining to do if stopped by law enforcement, at a later date, and the drugs were found in your possession. Forgetting about them is not an option.
As has been documented many times on social media and in the mainstream press over the last twenty years, especially in the UK, private parties are often ‘advertised’ on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. by teenagers who start by inviting their friends, but then, friends invite their friends and before you know it, a small house party turns into a full on ‘rave’ with people turning up from all over the county and beyond. These people force their way into the premises and often trash the house. On many occasions, the parents or owners of the house are out of town.
Party goers who become drunk or violent
As previously stated, if party goers become drunk and/or violent, a private security supervisor would only be able to physically intervene or restrain someone if it was proved that their actions were necessary for their own self defence or for the protection of others. It would also be doubtful if any personal liability insurance, whether personal or corporate, would cover you operating at private dwellings.
Party goers who leave the premises with alcohol (glasses, bottles etc)
Party goers will often wander off the private premises with alcohol in hand. You have no legal powers to remove that alcohol from anyone. This action only applies to door staff when they are working on a licensed premises as a badged operative and are preventing customers from leaving said licensed premises with alcohol, served in open containers, meant for consumption on the premises. Some public houses can serve as an off licence in Jersey, if they hold a 6th Category licence under the law, along with their 1st Category Taverners licence, selling unopened bottles of alcohol to patrons for consumption ‘off’ the premises.
Filming of party goers on bordyworn security cameras (especially those under eighteen)
Alcohol / drugs / teenagers / security staff; not a good combination. For those working in this environment, one might consider, as many do on licensed premises, to wear and operate a body-worn camera. This may on the surface be a good decision, especially if you are to protect yourself against possible accusations of improper behaviour made by a young party goer. However, cameras and children under age are rarely a good mix, especially in a private setting.
Laying your hands on another person (unless for self defence purposes or in defence of another)
You are leaving yourself open to complaints of assault if you felt the need, at a private party, while working as a security operative, to lay your hands on another person. You have a defence, however it is no different to the general defence used by members of the public, door security supervisors acting within the Licensing Law and police officers, which is that you are only allowed to use as much force as is necessary and proportionate in the circumstances; the Law of Self Defence. You also, of course, have a right to defend your person under the Human Rights Law ie. The right to life.
Although definitions within the police service have changed over the years, I still prefer my 1982 definition of an assault (from Ashford Police Training College in Kent), which is:
An attempt, threat or offer, by some physical act, to inflict unlawful force upon another, with the apparent ability to carry it out.
I am not here to tell people what jobs they should take and people will continue wanting ‘security’ at their private premises parties, and there will still be door security willing to take these assignments. My words of caution are when you mix prom age after party children (under eighteen years of age), birthday parties etc. with alcohol and possible illicit substances, it is not a good mix. While 99.9% of these events may go off without incident, it will be that 0.1% that could be your downfall and may lead to your loss of liberty.
The most important tool in a security operative’s arsenal is communication, both verbal and non-verbal (body language – reading and use of). Conflict management may be a buzzword among trainers but, it is worthy of greater study by people working in all customer facing roles and that includes door security supervisors. Much can be achieved by correct use of verbal and non-verbal communication when engaging with others and, in most circumstances, should prevent you having to introduce physical intervention or control and restraint as your tools of choice.
As a character in former Police drama series, Hill Street Blues, Sergeant Phil Esterhaus (actor Michael Conrad) used to say to his officers before they went out on duty: