Comet Security Group is delighted to have recently featured in The Crowd magazine, a globally renowned industry publication with nearly 20,000 readers in over 57 countries around the world. We sat down with their editorial team to discuss the importance of women in event safety and security, as well as the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Hit the link here to read our article in it’s entirety and the full edition of The Crowd magazine for FREE. We’ve also included the article below!

The Crowd Magazine
The Crowd Magazine

“He was still there outside shouting and screaming as the guys held him back while I helped her into the car. Definitely at times like that, I can’t stress how important a female security officer is”.

Hayley Smith, co-founder of Comet Security Group, is seated alongside her partner Anabela Moreira, remembering the event. It was the weekend in Cardiff and a man had assaulted his girlfriend after following her into the female toilets. As Hayley’s two male security colleagues escorted the man out of the nightclub, his girlfriend was left in the toilet area.

“I went in and she was just so glad to see me. He’d pulled her hair and smacked her across the head. Her handbag was open and had gone all over the floor with her money and everything. I instantly understood how she was feeling so I crouched down next to her and gave her a hug. I helped gather her belongings and called a relative to come and collect her from the club so that she didn’t have to leave with him. You need a female to deal with the female side of it.”

It’s an alarming account but one that happens all too often across the United Kingdom. Just under 10% of qualified security officers are women, highlighting the need to create a more balanced security presence at venues across the country. Yet it goes beyond having a female security officer present for when a violent altercation takes place. It’s also from a client care perspective, enabling female customers to feel comfortable in the environment. This is both upon entry into and within the premises itself.

“We have to understand that men and women both have unique abilities regarding security and more sensitive areas” explains Hayley. “I know that a lot of handbag searches that I’ve done over the years in the pubs and bars; a few women have actually said ‘can I have that lady check my bag please as I’ve got sanitation in there?’. Of course, some women don’t mind the guys going into the toilets, checking the cubicles and their bags, but sometimes if I’m not checking their bags, they will ask for me.”


Currently, there isn’t any form of legislation within the United Kingdom stating that there has to be a female presence within a security team. This is only the case if searches are needed. However, both Anabela and Hayley feel women should be present whatever the requirement. They also think businesses would reap the benefits as a result, providing a warmer, welcoming feeling to all customers. 

“Absolutely”, replied Hayley, “because there’s such a low number of female security officers qualified with the SIA in the UK right now. I understand that makes things really difficult for clubs that want dual sexes there. I do believe if you have male and female security officers – in fact any genders – I definitely think it’s one of the most important things a nightclub can do. When you see a male and female, it’s a nice feeling and looks so good. I do believe clubs shouldn’t have just male-dominated security. There has to be a female there for delicate areas; it’s so crucially important.”

The Crowd Magazine
Hayley Smith & Anabela Moreira, Co-Founders of Comet Security Group

Adding Value

It is clear the owners of Comet Security Group are passionate about their work within the security industry and how women can play an invaluable role in taking the sector to the next level. Throughout the discussion, they’re full of enthusiasm and drive, delving into detail about where female security officers can add value for both their employer and their customers. 

“The approach is unique” informs Anabela. “It doesn’t mean men do not also have a unique ability in how to approach the public, but sometimes males can be a little too aggressive in their talking. It can create more anger and aggression. As women, we have the ability to approach the public in a more friendly manner with a smile on our face. When we take the SIA qualifications, we are here for a duty of care – not to show ego or anything like that”.

“One of the interesting things I found when working the doors of clubs though was when there were fights between men late at night and they were really drunk, my colleagues would say, ‘Hayley, go sort that out!’. So I’d say ‘come on now boys, it’s time to go home now’ and because I’ve got a very Welsh accent, when I was working in the English clubs, they’d say ‘oh my god, I’ve got this Welsh bird telling me what to do!’” laughs Hayley. “I didn’t mind defusing aggression, especially with angry males. I’m more like a motherly figure to them. I never had to grab them and drag them out”.

Hayley has worked with other female security officers in the past. She notes how when a woman is authoritative but approachable in smart security uniform, an angry male customer often calms down. As a result, she’s seen some fantastic work by professionally trained women subduing much larger, aggressive males looking for confrontation.  

Both agree that when it comes to an all-female fight though, the opposite comes into play. “When females start fighting, it is really important for a male to get involved then” says Hayley. “When a female tries to break up two females arguing, it has a completely different effect. We have to look at it from both sides. Male security officers can go over and defuse women fighting. It’s quite interesting how it works, there’s a lot of psychology involved”.

Getting into security

It was Hayley’s brother who inspired her to get into the security sector. After five years travelling Europe, during which time she met Anabela, she decided to complete her Security Industry Authority (SIA) qualifications. She fondly recalls the incredible level of support received from her instructor who immediately made the small group of three women – out of 25 people attending the course – feel at ease.

“The instructor we had was great and he loved seeing us women come onto the course. He really encouraged me, especially when doing physical intervention training. He empowered us right at the beginning; there was no discrimination or anything”.

For Anabela, her route into the industry came via a different path. She had always wanted to be a police officer or detective when younger, particularly as she is passionate about fighting injustice. When her daughter was born, “I thought all of my dreams went into my pocket”. It was when she met Hayley, who was doing her SIA course, that she fell in love with the security industry. “I’m really passionate about it. I’m passionate about injustice, racism and everything like that. I want to support people and make them understand that as security we are here to protect, not to judge”.

Comet Security Group

They have since channelled their passion into building their own business – Comet Security Group. It is a rarity within the industry having two female owners, therefore Anabela and Hayley are determined to offer a fair environment for all, including female security professionals.

“We want to create a quality place to work where women and men can work harmoniously side by side without any discrimination” explains Hayley. “It is about bringing a modern day, fresh approach to the security industry and creating an environment where females can feel confident about joining the security sector with equality, respect and no discrimination. We’re aiming at schools, universities, colleges and women’s organisations supporting trauma and mental health. We feel we have some staff that are going to be really supportive in these areas so we’re really excited. We’ve had so much amazing feedback; everyone is rooting for us”.

The team also has some interesting ideas about expanding the role of security officers and door supervisors beyond the typical confines of the bar, restaurant or nightclub. The death of Sarah Everard shocked the nation and prompted huge debate about the safety of women in society. Organisations such as The Good Night Out campaign are working hard to promote safer nightlife as bars and nightclubs are set to reopen in the UK from the 21st June.

“It would be good to offer a very unique service such as late night patrols after clubs” continues Hayley. “Not just at the door where they leave the premises and it’s no longer our responsibility to take care of them at that point. Wouldn’t it be amazing when the clubs reopen to have security patrols in park areas, cities and towns? We’re aiming at places where we can help support women and men as well. Men are also crucial in this area; they like to feel safe too – it’s not just women.”

The Crowd Magazine
We support diversity & inclusion for everybody

Creating an LGBTQ+ friendly environment

The team isn’t solely driven to create a welcoming working environment for women; they’re also keen to promote opportunities for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Having received negative, discriminatory remarks in the past themselves, they’re passionate about creating a truly diverse workforce. Not only do they want to encourage more people from this background into the industry, but they also feel it’s a great way to support the community’s social culture. Whether it’s by providing female security officers or an individual who identifies with the community, it could help more customers feel safe and at ease.

“The important thing with gay clubs is that lots of guys who are gay; they don’t necessarily want big men picking them up” says Hayley. “They also want a woman they can deal with. So it’s not just women with women, it’s also women with men as well”.

There’s also a desire to smash the taboo of homosexual men in what has traditionally been seen as a stereotypically macho, heterosexual industry. “The amount of guys I’ve worked with who are gay and in relationships – they don’t tell other officers that they are” says Hayley. “They lie and say that they’re not, because they get poorly treated, bullied and become victims of discrimination. They are classed as not tough, heavy security officers because of their sexuality. We have found this really strong in the industry. The amount of security officers who have said they are gay; they cannot express that they have a loving partner at home who happens to be the same sex”.

Anabela nods and agrees, “That’s why we support diversity and the LGBTQ+ community. No discrimination at all!”.

A more inclusive security industry

So how can we build a more inclusive event safety and security industry? We can, according to the Comet Security team, start with equal rights and opportunities. It is also about recognising the benefits of creating more diverse security teams.

“There is a huge demand for female security officers and there is something so nice about seeing them in a shirt and tie” answers Hayley. “For children and females who suffer from trauma or feel uncomfortable around a male – and there are so many out there – they can feel more comfortable with a female”.

Anabela perhaps sums up the discussion perfectly, saying, “Men are great but it’s about creating a balance of understanding. We both have unique superpowers when it comes to protecting the public. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, you should be treated exactly the same as equals.”