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 News and information researched by KALAH WALES

 

These are some of the laws that protect us when we are working the doors and more importantly in our day to day lives.

 

Self-Defence and the Prevention of Crime

 

This section offers guidance of general application to all offences susceptible to the defences of:

  • self defence;
  • defence of another;
  • prevention of crime; and
  • lawful arrest and apprehension of offenders.

Self defence and the prevention of crime originates from a number of different sources. Defence of the person is governed by the common law. Defence of property however, is governed by the Criminal Damage Act 1971. Arrest and the prevention of crime are governed by the Criminal Law Act 1967.

This guidance is particularly relevant to offences against the person and homicide, and prosecutors should refer to Offences against the Person, incorporating the charging standard, elsewhere in the legal guidance and Homicide, elsewhere in the legal guidance.

In the context of cases involving the use of violence, the guiding principle is the preservation of the Rule of Law and the Queen's Peace.

However, it is important to ensure that all those acting reasonably and in good faith to defend themselves, their family, their property or in the prevention of crime or the apprehension of offenders are not prosecuted for such action. The CPS have published a joint leaflet with ACPO for members of the public making clear that if householders have acted honestly and instinctively and in the heat of the moment, that this will be the strongest evidence for them having acted lawfully and in self-defence. Prosecutors should refer to joint the CPS-ACPO leaflet - Householders and the Use of Force Against Intruders.

When reviewing cases involving assertions of self-defence or action in the prevention of crime/preservation of property, prosecutors should be aware of the balance to be struck:

  • the public interest in promoting a responsible contribution on the part of citizens in preserving law and order; and
  • in discouraging vigilantism and the use of violence generally.

There is often a degree of sensitivity to be observed in such cases; this is particularly important when the alleged victim of an offence was himself/herself engaged in criminal activity at the relevant time. For instance, a burglar who claims to have been assaulted by the occupier of the premises concerned.

When considering cases where an argument of self-defence is raised, or is likely to be raised, you should apply the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, refer to the Code for Crown Prosecutors elsewhere in the legal guidance.

The guidance in this section should be followed in determining whether the Code tests have been met.

When considering the sufficiency of the evidence in such cases, a prosecutor must be satisfied there is enough reliable and admissible evidence to rebut the suggestion of self-defence. The prosecution must rebut self-defence to the criminal standard of proof, see Burden of Proof below.

If there is sufficient evidence to prove the offence, and to rebut self defence, the public interest in prosecuting must then be carefully considered.

 

The Law and Evidential Sufficiency

 

Self-defence is available as a defence to crimes committed by use of force.

The basic principles of self-defence are set out in (Palmer v R, [1971] AC 814); approved in R v McInnes, 55 Cr App R 551:

"It is both good law and good sense that a man who is attacked may defend himself. It is both good law and good sense that he may do, but only do, what is reasonably necessary."

The common law approach as expressed in Palmer v R is also relevant to the application of section 3 Criminal Law Act 1967:

"A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large."

Section 3 applies to the prevention of crime and effecting, or assisting in, the lawful arrest of offenders and suspected offenders. There is an obvious overlap between self-defence and section 3. However, section 3 only applies to crime and not to civil matters. So, for instance, it cannot afford a defence in repelling trespassers by force, unless the trespassers are involved in some form of criminal conduct.

 

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/self_defence/#The_Law_and

 

Criminal Law Act 1967

 

Section 3 (1)

A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large.

 

Legislation.gov.uk

 

Human Rights Act 1998

 

Article 2 Right to life

1Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.E+W+S+N.I.

2Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:E+W+S+N.I.

(a)in defence of any person from unlawful violence;

(b)in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;

(c)in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.

 

Legislation.gov.uk

 

 

Private Rather than Public Duty

 

Prosecutors must exercise special care when reviewing cases involving those, other than police officers, who may have a duty to preserve order and prevent crime. This includes private security guards (including club doormen), public house landlords and public transport employees. The existence of duties that require people, during the course of their employment, to engage in confrontational situations from time to time needs to be considered, along with the usual principles of reasonable force.

 

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/self_defence/#Private_Rather_than

 

Pre-emptive strikes

 

There is no rule in law to say that a person must wait to be struck first before they may defend themselves, (see R v Deana, 2 Cr App R 75).

 

Common Law - Honestly held belief (R v Griffiths 1988)

 

Common Law recognises that there may be circumstances in which one person may inflict violence on another, without committing a crime. It recognises as one of these circumstances, the right of a person to protect himself / herself from attack and to act in defence of others and if necessary to inflict violence on another in doing so. If no more force is used than is reasonable to repel the attack, such force is not unlawful. If you have an honestly held belief that you or another, are in imminent danger, then you may use such force as is reasonable and necessary to avert that danger.

 

http://library.college.police.uk/docs/APPref/use-of-force-briefing.pdf

 

Retreating

 

Failure to retreat when attacked and when it is possible and safe to do so, is not conclusive evidence that a person was not acting in self defence. It is simply a factor to be taken into account rather than as giving rise to a duty to retreat when deciding whether the degree of force was reasonable in the circumstances (section 76(6) Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008). It is not necessary that the defendant demonstrates by walking away that he does not want to engage in physical violence: (R v Bird 81 Cr App R 110).

 

Revenge

 

In R v Rashford [2005] EWCA Crim 3377 it was held:

The mere fact that a defendant went somewhere to exact revenge from the victim did not of itself rule out the possibility that in any violence that ensued, self defence was necessarily unavailable as a defence.

However, where the defendant initially sought the confrontation (R v Balogun [2000] 1 Archbold News 3)

...A man who is attacked or believes that he is about to be attacked may use such force as is both necessary and reasonable in order to defend himself. If that is what he does then he acts lawfully.

It follows that a man who starts the violence, the aggressor, cannot rely upon self-defence to render his actions lawful. Of course during a fight a man will not only strike blows, but will defend himself by warding off blows from his opponent, but if he started the fight, if he volunteered for it, such actions are not lawful, they are unlawful acts of violence.

 

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/self_defence/#Pre-emptive

 

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