Diabetic pens cause angst for venue management

February 2006

Live Concert Industry

A diabetic clubber’s anger at being refused permission to keep her pre-loaded insulin pen on her at a nightclub has opened up a debate about whether or not door staff are right to take medication from customers before they enter a club. Lisa Morris, 27, first wrote about her November 2005 experiences at London’s The End nightclub in the Balancemagazine. She explained how she was told that she could not take her insulin pens into the club and had to give these to door staff for ‘safe keeping’. Lisa had previously taken the pens into the club. Lisa was unhappy about handing over her pens – in case they were tampered with and because of hygiene issues. Lisa was attending as a VIP to write a review on the Club but was asked to leave by door suprvisors. In Balance magazine Lisa admitted that she realised the issue of hightened security post 9/11 and the London bombings and that insulin pens have needles. The End banned all syringes and knives but Lisa countered by pointing out that they were allowed on aeroplanes and that in a club and at  events bottles and glasses posed far more of a risk. DJ Magazine (http://www.djmag.com/newsfeat122.php) which reported on the incident noted that London clubs Ministry of SoundFabric, and Turnmills, have all made dramatic u-turns in their door policies as a result of their article and that diabetic clubbers could now keep their pre-loaded insulin injection pens on their person inside the clubs and no longer have to leave their medication with staff but the magazine reported that The End nightclub is still refusing to change its ‘possibly illegal and discriminatory door policy’. Lisa’s article in Balance pointed out that the new provisions of the UK’s Disability Discrimination Act make it clear that service providers should not make it difficult for disabled persons to make use of a service. In fact there is a positive duty to make reasonable adjustments to facilitate a service for the disabled. But at least one fellow diabetic clubber disagreed with Lisa and Peter Jones wrote in a letter in the next issue of Balance that “an insulin pen in the wrong hands could be used to devastating effect on unsuspecting innocents”, pointing out “how easy it is to have items lost/.stolen from us in darkened nightclubs after a drink or two”. This issue will clearly trouble venues, event organisers security and door staff as they balance up new responsibilities under disability discrimination (and other new legislation) against current policies designed to provide safe and secure services and Suzanne Bull of Attitude Is Everything comments that “We’d like to see venues and promoters do a risk assessment and publish any documented cases where an insulin pen has got into the hands of another person and caused them or anyone else damage” and calls on venues to balance this risk against other items which may or may not be prohibited including glasses, bottles and even badge pins and Suzanne adds “An insulin pen is vital to those who use it, so they are going to look after it really carefully” . Venues and promoters are now going to have to carefully balance real safety and security risks against the rights of disabled customers.

Balance Magazine is published by Diabetes UK  www.diabetes.org

Attitude is everything: http://www.artsline.org.uk/attitude/

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