BRIGHTON is awash with drugs, struggling to cope with an epidemic of homelessness and one of the biggest targets for terrorism, a security expert has warned.

Gareth Burgum runs a private security firm in charge of teams of bouncers who patrol the city’s streets every weekend.

His company Consec Risk Management sends 80 to 100 bouncers into Brighton and Hove every weekend evening and that number can easily double during big events such as Pride or New Year’s Eve.

His trained security staff face nightly battles.

They are all registered by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) which licences private security staff and bouncers.

They are constantly called upon to help police restrain violent thugs, search for missing people, deal with drunken disorder and keep the peace.

Gareth said: “Brighton is one of the top five terrorist targets in the country.

“There are a lot of iconic landmarks and areas with lots of footfall.

“We know the city is a likely target.

“People in Brighton tend to have a relaxed attitude and don’t realise what a risk we are.”

Gareth and his team have been involved in training as part of Project Griffin, organised by Sussex Police, to deal with terrorist attacks.

“Part of the problem is training for coded threats like we saw from the IRA in the 1980s but we need to be prepared for a more opportunistic attack – attacks with knives or vehicles,” he said.

“There is such large footfall if someone wanted to mow down a group of people it would cause carnage.

“But we could have 180 SIA officers, first aid trained and able to deal with crowd control, deployed in minutes to help.

“We are private operators but we are always trying to work closer with the police.

“We have been accredited by Sussex Police so they know we do things the right way.”

Gareth set up the company after a background in the military, private security in Iraq and Afghanistan and working as a bodyguard for celebrities and royals.

Now it has door staff sent to specific late-night venues across the city, a mobile unit roaming the streets which can be called in to help, dog units and technical staff who can help companies set up CCTV, barriers and other security measures.

Bouncers are kept in constant communication with police so they can assist with night-time violence.

All Gareth’s officers have body-worn cameras to protect them from abuse and help gather evidence.

He said: “We are the guys and girls on the ground 24/7 – that’s eyeballs the police haven’t got.”

Gareth said drugs were still a major problem, with drug dealing gangs operating across the city – particularly on the lower promenade, in Madeira Drive and Old Steine after dark.

Describing the so-called county lines drug dealing operations, where London gangs send dealers across the country using telephone delivery services, Gareth said: “It is rife. We see it everywhere.

“It is going on on the lower promenade all the time. It is all down Madeira Drive.

“The Old Steine can be a very shady place after dark.”

In terms of drink-based violence, Gareth said the picture was changing as the night-time economy suffers from fewer people going out.

However fewer revellers does not mean less trouble.

He said: “There are still problems in West Street, but it’s not so much the epicentre of trouble it used to be.

“Church Road is particularly bad for drugs.

“It used to always be alcohol that fuelled fights but more and more drugs are involved.

“Church Road is awash with cocaine – it’s a coke den – absolutely full of it.

“We are seeing increased levels of use across the board.

“Half the incidents we turn up to in the night time economy are drug fuelled these days.

“People used to go out and have a couple of pints but now they have a couple of lines too.

“It is much more acceptable these days and you can’t stereotype the users.

“It’s everyone.

“We have seen the demise of the nightclub over the past 20 years or so.

“There are less venues that want a visible bouncer on the door and that is where we can step in with mobile patrols.”