A reform of nightclub bouncers’ licence requirements has been drafted after complaints that many Paceville security personnel are working illegally.

Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia confirmed that talks to revamp the law regulating bouncers’ licensing requirements had first started several months ago after nightclub owners complained of difficulties finding legitimate bouncers.

“We are at an advanced stage of this reform and it will be finalised shortly,” the minister said.

The issue of bouncer licences was cast in the national spotlight earlier this week after an unlicensed nightclub security worker was charged on Tuesday with grievously injuring a man.

CCTV shows the shocking attack by a bouncer on a nightclubber. Video: Courtesy of TVM

The victim, Maciej Zyluk, suffered blunt force trauma when he was kicked in the head during a brutal beating that was caught on camera. A number of other bouncers allegedly involved in the incident are still under investigation. 

Figures provided by the police licensing unit show that there are 105 licensed bouncers working in Malta today.

Philip Fenech, who is the president of the Chamber of SMEs’ tourism and hospitality section, told Times of Malta the figure seemed “rather low”.

He pointed out that some of the larger outdoor venues in Malta would employ big numbers of bouncers in the summer months  and found it difficult to believe that just 105 bouncers were working on the island.

Asked how many bouncers had been caught working without a licence so far this year, the police said five had been charged in court to date.

This is a significant drop from the 20 bouncers that were caught working without a licence in 2016.

Laws regulating nightclub security personnel were introduced in 2012, with bouncers required to have five years of police, armed forces, prison guard or private security experience and a specialised licence following training. But the requirements appear to have had little effect on the way Paceville venues are controlled, with reports of violence a regular occurrence.

A Paceville veteran, Mr Fenech said he had held a number of meetings with the government on the matter and was eager to see the reform passed through.

He said a draft had been completed some months ago and was now waiting to be presented to Parliament.

The reform, he said, sought to address what stakeholders had described as the main obstacle to obtaining a licence.

“The five-year experience requirement was making it too difficult to find people eligible for a licence in the first place, so our proposal is for this requirement to either be removed entirely or be reduced significantly,” he said. 

The training course that bouncers would need to follow before obtaining a licence would still remain, he said.

Meanwhile, nightclub owners have told the government that, as a shortage of licensed bouncers persisted, they were faced with two options: hire unlicensed bouncers or resort to a loophole that had been identified by some security contractors.

They said a number of security firms were providing nightclubs with “bouncers by another name”.

These security workers would sign contracts as ‘cloakroom attendants’, ‘hosts’ or ‘door managers’ but would, in fact, be working as security personnel.

Many other clubs had turned to employing foreign bouncers, the vast majority of whom did not have a licence.

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