Guide to Physical Intervention Training for Security Guards

Security guards that earn a door supervisor licence in the UK are required to undergo physical intervention training. Such has been the case since 2010. This type of training is necessary to ensure the safe and effective use of physical intervention in emergencies, without violating individual rights or putting persons in undue danger. Because of the extra responsibilities involved, door supervisor jobs tend to pay a little better and open the door to more advancement opportunities for security workers.

In this post, we will discuss physical intervention and training in detail. It is our goal to help you understand what this is all about as it may influence your decision about earning your licence to become a security guard. Keep in mind that what you read here is fluid. Things can change as regulations evolve.

Physical Intervention Defined

The best place to begin our discussion of physical intervention is to define what it is. Aegis, a leading provider of career training in the UK, defines physical intervention as a means of preventing or restricting a person’s freedom of movement, either directly or indirectly. Most of us would understand this to include things such as:

• directly blocking an egress
• physically restraining a combative person
• redirecting by pushing, pulling or steering
• physically carrying a person to a different location.

Utilising such techniques is sometimes necessary to defuse a potentially volatile situation or to end violence already under way. Physical intervention is something that is not to be taken lightly by the door supervisor or entry-level security guards. It is only to be deployed when necessary and in a way that is consistent with industry standards and current regulations.

When Physical Intervention Is Necessary

Your average security guard or door supervisor could easily go weeks or months at a time without having to engage in physical intervention. Others may have to employ physical intervention more frequently. Because there’s no way to tell what will happen from one day to the next, it is important that those involved be prepared for anything. The following is a short list of the types of incidents that might require physical intervention:

Theft Prevention – A retail security guard may be faced with a situation in which an alleged thief is not cooperative upon initial approach. Restraint may be necessary to prevent the individual from leaving with stolen goods or curtailing any possibility of a violent confrontation between guard and perpetrator. Retail guards are required by law to undergo this training.

Crowd Control – Large crowds at sporting or entertainment events always have the potential of getting out of control. Physical intervention is often necessary to keep minor incidents from becoming major problems.

Intoxicated Patrons – Bars, pubs and restaurants may have to deal with intoxicated patrons from time to time. Unfortunately, physical intervention is a regular part of such scenarios. For the safety of everyone involved, training is essential for dealing with the uncooperative.

Trespassing – There are times when trespassers, motivated by ideology or strong emotions, attempt to bypass security guards to gain entrance to a property. This is yet another situation in which physical intervention will usually be required.

As you can see from this list, the most common scenarios requiring physical intervention from a security guard involve heightened emotions and poor decision-making by those being restrained. This is what subjects the security guard and his/her employer to liability risks. Proper training is necessary to reduce liability risks while ensuring the highest level of safety and effectiveness.

Risks of Physical Intervention

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) requires physical intervention training for certain kinds of guards in order to reduce the risks involved. What are those risks? They are numerous, beginning with the risk of injury to either the security guard or the person being restrained. By its very nature, physical intervention leads to physical contact between multiple parties that could result in injury or death.

A second risk associated with these kinds of procedures is one of violating the civil rights of others. There is a fine line between effectively intervening and going too far. If a security guard does go too far, he or she may ultimately be accused of civil rights violations. Such accusations are especially troublesome because they are very difficult to defend against in civil or criminal court.

Lastly is the risk of financial liability in the event of litigation. The security guard, his/her employer, and the company contracting with the security provider may all be held liable to one degree or another after a physical intervention incident resulting in some sort of harm to person or property. Avoiding such liability is crucial to the security industry.

Other Things to Know

As we wrap up this discussion of physical intervention for security guards, there are just a few more things you need to know. For example, there are certain kinds of security guard jobs that require an SIA licence with additional physical intervention certification. Earning an entry-level licence without physical intervention training does not qualify you to hold one of these positions.

Security companies and their customers should also be aware that a properly licenced door supervisor might not necessarily have the right skills for a particular position despite having undergone physical intervention training. Additional training may be necessary depending on the circumstances of a given job.

Finally, the law requires employers to take every reasonable step to ensure a safe working environment for both employees and those they interact with. Therefore, it is always a good idea for security companies and their customers to develop a set of policies defining what types of physical intervention can be used, how it is to be deployed, and the conditions that must be present in order for deployment to occur.

As you can clearly see, physical intervention is not something to take lightly. It is a necessary part of the security job, but one that could result in unintended consequences more than capable of negatively affecting lives. Proper training is an absolute must for any security guard whose position calls for routine intervention that could become physical.

1. SIA –
2. Aegis –