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Event Security Series: 1. Crowd Management

I recently undertook 3 months of research for my Masters into current Event Security protocols in the UK and whether the demands from the public match up with what the event industry is doing. This research made up a 15,000 word Dissertation, far too much for a blog post but I thought I would create a series of posts looking at the key aspects of security and the results of my public survey. So here is post 1 on the current crowd control regulations in place for event professionals and venues to adhere too.

The preparation of a crowd management plan is as important as a contingency plan, by planning effective crowd management it can control attendees safely and reduce the likely hood of risks. The operation and delivery of crowd management is controlled by a variety of regulations and legislation. The Safety at Sports Grounds Act (1975) makes provisions for the safety at sports stadiums and grounds, venues that are regularly used for sporting, music and recreational events.

Any organisation holding an event at a sport facility must adhere to the crowd control regulations of this act, including checking the safety certificates are up to date. The Guide to safety at sports grounds (Sports Ground Safety Authority 2007) was created to help organisations follow the legislation in place. Effective monitoring of a crowd can avoid problems occurring such as overcrowding, anti-social behaviour and crime. It allows the organisers to detect problems at an early stage and effectively handle them before other people are put in danger. Any crowd management plan in place should contain a Statement of Intent, so each organisation involved understands their responsibility and who has authority to implement the plan, similar to that of a contingency plan.

The type of event being held as well as the location and size of venue can influence the type of plan that needs to be in place to control crowds, so it is suggested site surveys are carried out prior to implementing a crowd management plan. The National Counter Terrorism Security Office (2017) has published updated guidance on protection of crowded places from terrorism in the wake of terrorist attacks on the UK during 2017. They recommend a strong security culture is endorsed from a senior level within organisations and security should cover both physical and cyber threats. The lack of crowd control and security can damage an organisations reputation and effect attendance going forward.

In order to keep the level of crowd control necessary to meet regulations, organisations need to ensure they are employing trained security personnel. The Security Industry Authority regulates security personnel and ensures all licensed SIA staff have met the level of training needed to perform effective crowd management safely. They have qualifications they can undertake including, Certificate in Event Match-day Stewarding (CEMS), National Vocational Qualifications Levels 2-4 & Foundation Degree level 5 in Crowd Safety Management. These qualifications allow event managers to hire staff they know have completed recognised qualifications and will be capable to execute emergency procedure if needed. There is guidance form the Security Industry Authority in the form of the Security at Events Guide (SIA 2008) to help event managers execute the Private Security Industry Act (2001) correctly. It defines what personnel need to be licensed depending on the activities they will engage in. This allows the industry to have a defined code of practise and for the government to have a regulated private security industry in the hope entertainment and events are capable of being executed without the need for the police force.

The National Counter Terrorism Security Office publish frequently updated recommendations on how security can work with a venue to eliminate a threat before it is carried out. With the current threat level in the UK being Severe, The UK has had a Critical threat level 4 times since 2006 which is when threat level data was first published. With this level of threat security officers at events need to know counter terrorism measures, by being vigilant and proactive in enforcing security it can prevent the criminal act taking place. Using staff communication systems to inform others of potential criminal behaviours and identifying the protective security measures in place for the correct circumstances. It is important staff are trained and have completed rehearsals for the response to each level of threat distinguished for that event.

Despite the levels of legislation and regulations in place it is near impossible to prevent a well- planned and efficient terrorist attack.

Event Managers should direct their focus on the procedures in place to deal with such an emergency situation if it were to occur. It is only at high profile mega events such as the Olympic games where the event has access to intelligence agencies would procedures be in place to prevent a terrorist attack occurring. Large events have been perceived to be the main targets as they produce large crowds and from this the terrorist can get the biggest impact and media coverage. However, with the more recent attacks being aimed at some smaller localised events such as the Bataclan music hall in Paris and borough market in London, it is similar to 1970’s & 1980’s when the IRA where the main terrorist threat, placing bombs in pubs and hotels.

With the ongoing creation of regulations and legislation to help protect the public from terrorism, the topic of security will continue to be a greatly debated issue amongst academics and event professional over the next few years. Security has already increased at sport and conference venues especially within the Unites States of American and Europe. Many venues and event organisations rely on repeat business from their clients to maintain their reputation, being known for an effective and efficient security programme will come into consideration. Although putting these regulations into practise will come at an increased cost to remain competitive with the marketplace security will be expected as a part of the level of service expected.

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