Before going into work, planning & choice
The key to good personal safety is planning and choice.
Find Out About Security
Planning ahead for personal safety at work includes making decisions about the clubs you work in. Dancers say that one of the main protective factors for their safety at work is the security that is in place. So before you go to work in a club or at your audition try to find out about the security measures in place, try and speak to other dancers who have worked there and who can tell you what security is like in action. Dancers felt this was a good idea but flagged up that especially when you first start, it can sometimes take some time to be accepted and get to know other dancers, as you could be seen as competition.
What Makes Good Security?
Dancers identified the following features as important of “good” club security;
- Quality security staff who proactively patrol the club, stand outside booths, monitor customers, look out for the safety of dancers and react quickly to any incidents.
- Good quality CCTV in place which is actively monitored for dancer safety. Some dancers stressed the importance of CCTV in particular locations including dance areas and outside the club and in the car park.
“CCTV is the very important thing – if they don’t check for an hour that’s no good, if you go inside for an hour and no one is checking it’s no good. So CCTV is number one”
- Other club staff (e.g. managers and DJ) willing to keep vigilant, check that everything is ok and intervene if there is a potential or actual incident. Dancers specified that good ‘house mums’ can be important in promoting dancer safety.
- Clubs that have arrangements in place to ensure dancers leave the club safely (i.e. with a known taxi firm) or who have security to walk dancers to their cars.
- Panic alarm buttons in booths.
- Management that listens to dancers and stand up for dancers properly.
Before you work in a club ask the managers and other dancers who have worked in the club about each of these security elements (although bear in mind what some managers say happens security-wise and what does happen in reality may be different). If you can visit the club before you go to work a shift there that will be a benefit.
Concerns about security in a Club
If you are not happy with the security in a club try to discuss this with the managers of the club to make them aware of your concerns and to discuss if any changes can be made. Whether you decide to do this is your choice. Some dancers flagged up that managers could react differently, some might welcome comment others might see you as a trouble causer. But it is an option for you to consider.
Increasingly councils who grant the licences to erotic dance clubs are writing safety matters into the conditions the club must meet to get and keep the licence. For example, some will specify the number of security staff a club should have and will require security staff to have a line of sight to all dance spaces and some will have requirements regarding the security of private dance booths. The majority will have requirements for CCTV systems.
Things you can do:
- You can ask the managers if you can see the licensing conditions. A good club should be happy to share these.
- All councils must publish their policy for Sex Entertainment Venues (this is the name in law given to lap/table/pole dance clubs), these are public documents.
- It is the council’s licensing department who deal with Sex Entertainment Licences. Go on the website of the council area where the club is based and you can find contact details for licensing departments. You can also find their Sexual Establishment Venue policy on there.
- If you wish you can contact the council licensing department directly about any safety or welfare concern you have. You can report this anonymously and you don’t have to have spoken to the management before, some dancers worry that if they do they may be seen as the source of any complaints.They may be able to help you and should be pleased to hear from you on matters of safety.
Packing your things for work
As well as packing your usual items for work always take;
- Your mobile phone (charged): have a quick dial setting for 999.
- A padlock: to secure your belongings at work. Avoid taking in unnecessary valuables with you.
- A personal safety alarm: make sure you can easily get this, ideally it should be in your hand or your coat pocket. Free alarms are often not powerful enough to do the job properly and it is better to pay a few pounds to make sure you get a powerful enough alarm. You can buy personal safety alarms from www.suzylamplugh.org 020 7091 0014.
Using a personal safety alarm
When you have got an alarm, test your alarm: you need to know what it sounds like in case you ever have to use it.
Suzy Lamplugh Trust describe the aim of a personal alarm as to shock and disorientate an attacker giving you time to get away. They give the following guidance for using an alarm;
The best way to ensure your personal safety is to plan ahead. Your alarm is no use to you in a bag; have your alarm in your hand when you feel vulnerable or threatened. Then…
- If your exit is blocked or you feel an attack is imminent, hold the alarm as close to the attacker’s head as you can.
- Activate alarm.
- An ear-piercing shriek will be emitted.
- This should temporarily put the assailant off balance – mentally and physically.
- Use the shriek to spur yourself into action, putting you back in control and giving you vital seconds to get away.
- Do not waste time checking it has had the desired effect on the attacker – just go.
Alarms should be of a certain decibel level, 130 decibels and over, to do the job they are meant to do.
If you feel an attack is imminent away from the club you can…
- Use your voice to make lots of noise. Shouting an instruction like “Call the Police!” makes it very clear to anyone within earshot that you are in danger and need assistance.
- Try diversion techniques. Doing something unexpected can confuse an attacker and give you a chance to get away such as pretending to see someone and calling out to them for help. What would you do? Thinking about it in advance will help you to think more clearly in an emergency situation.
- People often think that sounding an alarm will bring people to their aid. This may happen, but don’t rely on it. The aim of the alarm is to assist you to get away.
Suzy Lamplugh Trust aim to raise awareness about personal safety. They provide a range of safety resources including personal safety alarms (for sale) www.suzylamplugh.org 020 7091 0014.