The changing face of pubs and clubs frontline provision

April 11, 2024


frontline provision

Guardhouse Co-Founder, Julian Cartwright explores the changing face of frontline provision in pubs and clubs.

Pubs and clubs are where many current business owners cut their teeth and learned their trade.

It is the most public facing sector and presents both challenges and opportunities for security personnel.

Within this dynamic environment, security professionals often find themselves on the frontlines, facing the potential for physical violence and navigating a landscape marked by regulatory changes and market shifts. 

This dynamic landscape is helping to shape a new generation of security company.

Highly professionalised, future-thinking businesses, that are increasingly using technology to overcome challenges, raise standards, champion guard safety, and drive efficiency.  

The threat of physical violence 

The courage of security personnel in the pubs and clubs’ sector cannot be overstated, as they are frequently exposed to the risk of physical violence.

Shockingly, knife crime has surged by over 90% since 2013, amplifying the dangers faced by these brave individuals.

There’s now a very real chance that members of the public could be armed.

Sadly, statistics reveal that a staggering 36% of guards experience physical assaults every month, underscoring the volatile nature of their work environment. 

With approximately 40,000 pubs and bars scattered across the UK, the pubs and clubs sector has undergone significant transformations over the past two decades.

The introduction of Security Industry Authority (SIA) licenses in 2004 imposed a massive additional – but much needed – compliance burden on security personnel, necessitating rigorous training and background checks.  

As Tom Douglas FdA, of the SES Group Management Team explains, “Since the introduction of SIA Licences, the industry has changed a lot, with a real drive towards professionalisation; ensuring licensing compliance is essential.”  

In addition, the implementation of 24-hour licensing in 2005 also blurred the traditional boundaries between pubs and clubs, ultimately leading to a decline in club venues.

Pub numbers have been in decline for decades with a drop of around 20% since the turn of the millennium.   

Moreover, the sector experienced a shrinking market following the 2008 financial crisis, with a quarter of pubs closing since 2001.

The COVID-19 pandemic inflicted further devastation, hitting pubs and clubs harder than perhaps any other industry. 

Additionally, the consolidation of the pub market has seen more conglomerates and fewer independents, heightening expectations for service delivery.

The net result is a more competitive market, characterised by tighter regulation and increased scrutiny on proof of service delivery and compliance.

Security personnel must adapt to these changing dynamics, leveraging advanced training and technology to ensure the safety and security of patrons. 

The role of technology 

Venues are continually innovating and so too are the security companies that protect them.

New technology and software are increasingly being deployed to overcome obstacles, enhance compliance, and drive operational excellence.  

One such platform is Guardhouse, an all-in-one workforce management solution specifically designed for the physical security industry.

Forward-thinking companies like SES, Oracle, and Vanguard are using Guardhouse to meet and exceed expectations. 

Ensuring the safety and well-being of security guards is paramount in the face of escalating violence.

Guardhouse employs technology to prioritise guard safety, offering automated welfare checks and a live dashboard for real-time activity reporting.  

This enables security supervisors to monitor guard status and respond swiftly to any emergencies.

Moreover, real-time occurrence logs and incident reporting facilitate prompt intervention and resolution of security incidents, enhancing overall safety protocols. 


Compliance with regulatory requirements is a critical aspect of security operations and Guardhouse simplifies this process with its automated features.

The platform conducts automated SIA license checks on all enrolled staff, ensuring that only qualified individuals are deployed for assignments.

Additionally, Guardhouse tracks the expiry dates of licenses, training certificates, and accreditations, enabling proactive renewal management.

Customisable compliance requirements for each venue further enhance regulatory adherence, guaranteeing that only eligible staff are scheduled for duty.  

“Guardhouses’ inbuilt SIA Licence checker is a real gamechanger, saving time and giving us peace of mind,” testifies Tom Douglas FdA, SES Management Team. 

Proof of service delivery 

Guardhouse offers robust features to provide indisputable proof of service delivery, mitigating risks associated with accountability and transparency.

Geo-fenced clock-ins, time stamps, and photos captured during clock-in and clock-out procedures ensure accurate recording of guard attendance and activities.  

Digital timesheets and a customer portal offer complete visibility into security operations, facilitating seamless communication and collaboration between security providers and clients.

By eliminating the potential for ghost shifting, Guardhouse reinforces trust and accountability in security service delivery. 

“Gulogy like geofenced clock-ins and live photos to increase the levels of transparency and guard accountability,” says Oracle’s Harj Bhandal. 

Efficiency and profitability 

Guardhouse also drives efficiency and profitability for security companies operating in the pubs and clubs’ sector.

The platform streamlines scheduling processes, significantly re ardhouse provides a really easy way to evidence time and attendance to our customers.

It uses clever techno ducing the time and effort required to manage staff assignments.

Labour-intensive compliance tasks are automated, freeing up resources for strategic initiatives and value-added services.  

Faster time and attendance processing, coupled with access to real-time data reports, empower security providers to forecast and review site profitability with precision.

Overall, Guardhouse delivers tangible benefits, including a 50%+ reduction in administrative time, enabling security companies to optimise operations and maximise profitability. 

The journey to here 

Over 8 years ago in Australia, Guardhouse Founders, Andy Longworth, Julian Cartwright, Keith Longworth and Jack Alpe set out to solve a common burden for small to medium sized businesses – staff rostering.  

Julian explains, “Our comprehensive online staff scheduling system caught the attention of a security customer who wanted to streamline and automate this aspect of his business. He wanted to free up time to innovate and better serve his customers. 
“Inspired by his dedication to making the world a safer place, we instantly saw the value we could add to his business. It motivated us to dream of a game-changing mission for the entire industry.” 
Over the next year, comprehensive market research and investment in understanding the security industry led to the birth of Guardhouse.

“We’ve built our end-to-end workforce management system in conjunction with big players in the security industry, to ensure it has features and benefits that fit what the market needs,” Julian says proudly. 
To date, Guardhouse has partnered with over 300 companies in the 20-2,000 staff range across Australia, New Zealand and the UK. 

This article was originally published in the April Edition of Security Journal United Kingdom. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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