Venue security and safety

Venues that are safe, clean and provide a pleasant atmosphere where patrons can relax and enjoy themselves are likely to attract more customers and be more profitable. Such venues are also an attractive place of employment and cause little disturbance to the local community. There are a number of factors that contribute to providing a safe and secure venue, including building maintenance, surveillance, crowd control and queue management, amenity, hygiene, emergency procedures and fire safety (Note: With respect to fire safety, the VCGLR has the powers to close and evacuate premises should a serious fire risk be present).

Minimum requirements

As a venue operator, you are required to comply with any conditions on your liquor licence or planning permit, including maximum patron capacities, installation of CCTV systems, crowd controllers, trading hours, amenity, waste storage and collection, and parking. Similarly, if you have a footpath or kerbside trading permit, you are required to comply with any conditions set out on that permit.

Under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998, evidence of any of the following factors, which may occur inside, or a place outside a licensed premises that is sufficiently proximate to, that premises, are taken to constitute evidence of detraction from, or detriment to, the amenity of the area in which the licensed premises is situated –

    (a) violent behaviour;
    (b) drunkenness;
    (c) vandalism;
    (d) using profane, indecent or obscene language;
    (e) using threatening, abusive or insulting language;
    (f) behaving in a riotous, indecent, offensive or insulting manner;
    (g) disorderly behaviour;
    (h) causing nuisance;
    (i) noise disturbance to occupiers of other premises;
    (j) obstructing a footpath, street or road;
    (k) littering.

Under the Tobacco Control Act 1987, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed licensed premises and outdoor dining or drinking areas (e.g. a balcony or courtyard) that have a roof in place and the total actual area of the wall surfaces exceeds 75 per cent of the total notional wall area (see link below for further information).

Building owners must ensure their premises complies with the Building Code of Australia. Most licensed premises that provide live music entertainment are classified as a Class 9b building and will be required to meet the standards in relation to that class. This includes the installation of fire safety equipment and disability access and facilities. See the resources section of this chapter for further information.

Best practice

There are a number of steps that you can take, in addition to meeting the legislative requirements outlined above to improve safety and security at your venue. These include:

Building design and equipment

  • Consult the Design Guidelines for Licensed Venues (details below) for practical advice on how to improve the safety of your venue through the design of its physical environment.
  • Consider serving drinks in shatter-proof glass to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Even if it is not a condition on your liquor licence, consider the use of security cameras as a tool to deter crime, capture footage that can be used in criminal prosecutions and enhance perceptions of safety. Security cameras can be particularly useful when used at the entry and exit points of a venue.
  • Ensure that fire equipment (extinguishers, hose reels, doors etc) is checked by a qualified person periodically, and that staff are trained in their proper use. Consult the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Workplace Emergency Management Manual (link below).

Systems training

  • Consult with police and the local fire authority about developing an emergency procedure management plan. Ensure that all staff members are familiar with the plan and understand what they should do in an emergency.
  • Develop a staff procedure manual that contains all the information and obligations of staff when working in your venue. It should contain details about licence conditions, emergency procedures, floor plans with emergency exits, how to deal with noise complaints, how to deal with illegal drug use or dealing, harm minimisation strategies, responding to sexual assault, harassment and/or discrimination.
  • Keep an incident register and review it periodically to ensure that all incidents involving violence, harassment and discrimination are recorded and appropriate follow-up action is taken.
  • Conduct evacuation drills every six months.
  • Promote and encourage staff participation in training on prevention and response to violence, harassment and discrimination.

Crowd control

  • Ensure that queues to enter the premises are kept orderly, and do not block footpaths or create loud noise. Consider using bollards, planter boxes or roped-off areas to achieve this.
  • Develop a re-entry policy that outlines the circumstances when patrons can leave the premises (e.g. smoking, use of mobile phone) and re-enter without queuing or paying an additional cover charge, to reduce patron congestion on footpaths and areas surrounding the venue.
  • Follow Victoria Police’s advice on reducing the supply of drugs in licensed venues, Responding to Drugs (link below).
  • See chapter 6 on Managing Troublesome Patrons or refer to chapter 7 on Sexual Harassment for further reading.

Resources

Design Guidelines for Licensed Premises

www.vcglr.vic.gov.au
Look under ‘Resources’.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade Workplace Emergency Management Manual

www.mfb.vic.gov.au

Department of Health

For information about the law regarding smoking, see:
www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/tobacco-reform

Victorian Building Authority

For information about compliance with the Building Code of Australia, contact the Victorian Building Authority:
www.vba.vic.gov.au

Australian Building Code Board

For information on purchasing the Building Code of Australia, or where you can view the Code, visit the Australian Building Code Board website:
www.abcb.gov.au