Bouncer regulations shelved for two years
Bouncer regulations shelved for two years

Shelved Bill recommended all bouncers be insured

The creation of an authority to regulate bouncers was a proposal included in an overhaul of existing legislation presented to government two years ago, MaltaToday has learnt.

The detailed Bill was presented to then home affairs minister Carmelo Abela on the eve of the 2017 election with no time to be actioned. But it remained shelved even afterwards, with a spokesperson for Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia saying the Bill is being “redrafted”.

The proposed legislation seen by MaltaToday was made in the aftermath of the PlusOne incident in Paceville that saw scores of young people injured. That incident happened exactly four years ago.

The Bill had called for different licencing arrangements for bouncers and security personnel, a requirement for personnel to be covered by insurance, and separate legislation for wardens.

The draft law sought to address, among others, the issue of unlicensed bouncers that was flagged by a magisterial inquiry into the PlusOne incident.

The ministry did not indicate whether key proposals in the original Bill will be kept but insisted that discussions with various stakeholders are currently underway. “The Bill is in an advanced stage and will soon be presented to the government,” the spokesperson said.

The need for better legislation to regulate bouncers came to the fore again last month when a bouncer working at one of the popular Paceville nightclubs was caught on CCTV beating a Polish man outside the venue.

The footage published by the national broadcaster showed the assailant kicking the man in the head while he was on the ground and knocking him unconscious.

The Serbian bouncer was charged in court with grievously injuring and endangering the life of the Polish victim, working as a security guard without a licence, threatening the man, exceeding the limits of provocation and breaching the peace.

The savage attack caused outrage and rekindled memories of the PlusOne incident four years ago when 74 youths were hospitalised after a stampede caused by pepper spray sprayed inside the club.

A magisterial inquiry into the shocking incident found that among other shortcomings, the club owner had employed unlicensed security guards, some of whom were listed as customer care officials.

In the aftermath of the PlusOne incident the home affairs ministry at the time had tasked experts to draw up new legislation regulating bouncers and security personnel.

The Bill proposed the setting up of a regulatory authority that would not only issue licences but also monitor the activities of people involved in the security industry.

Four different types of licences were suggested: private guard, a driving specialised guard, a non-driving specialised guard and a private guard at a place of entertainment.

Anyone issued with a licence would have to be covered by an indemnity insurance, which would cover any damage, injury or death caused by the negligence of the individual.

The proposal listed different penalties, including those for the use of excessive force.

It also outlined the training courses the individual had to take before being issued with a licence.

The draft presented to the ministry included a detailed breakdown of course material to be covered. This included training on how security personnel should address difficult situations without the use of excessive use and how and when minimum force should be used.

The Bill also established penalties for those working in the sector, including a €25,000 fine and prison term not exceeding one year for those caught working as security guards without the relevant licence.

Excessive force will be penalised under the draft law, with a fine not exceeding €2,000 and a prison term not exceeding 12 months.

It remains unclear whether these proposals have been kept in the latest ‘redrafting’ exercise.

Figures for 2019 show that five bouncers were caught working without a licence. This contrasts with statistics for 2016, the first year after the PlusOne incident, when 20 bouncers were caught working without a licence.

Figures by the police licensing unit show that there are 105 licensed bouncers working in Malta, a figure that was deemed “too low” by the president of the Chamber of SMEs’ tourism and hospitality section, Philip Fenech.

In an interview with sister publication BusinessToday, Fenech reiterated the need for proper regulation of the security sector and better enforcement of the rules.

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