PANEL: ‘Rings of Steel: Securing Your Event’
The second panel of E3S was the first to broach a topic that became a theme throughout the day: that of not neglecting crowd and general event safety at all events amid an industry wide focus on heightened security outside.
“This summer focused so much on security that I’m worried the safety aspect – crowd management, stopping drugs being brought on site and even weather planning– is going to fall away,” said Gentian Events’ Eric Stuart. That focus on security been a direct contributor to lots of unnecessary accidents at events this summer where people were hurt.”
Wembley Stadium’s Liam Boylan said his customers have come to expect rigorous security on the door – to the extent they will complain if they feel inadequately searched. The FA Cup final at Wembley, explained Boylan, was the first major event following the Manchester Arena bombing, leading the venue to implement heightened security and, for the first time, pat-downs of 100% of people coming through the gate.
“Football crowds normally arrive late, in last 45 minutes before the match,” he said. To give plenty of time for entry, “we told them that they needed to be there an hour before – and to their credit people did it. But even then we had complaints afterwards that the search was inadequate.”
Pascal Viot of Paléo Festival Nyon agreed that “people are asking to feel safe”, even though Switzerland has yet to experience a major terrorist attack. But he spoke of the need for any extra measures to be “proportionate”, warning of focusing too much on the perimeter – “this vision of a ring of steel” – at the expense of staff training.
“We’re talking about searches, but we don’t even know what we’re searching for,” he said, stressing that security is a dynamic process that changes and adapts constantly. “If we find an explosive belt at the door, what do we do?”
Production Solution’s Keith Wood addressed screening of staff on shows as an area of concern. “We have to get into the mind-set that everyone has to be checked including casual labour,” he said. “If I’m hiring 300 stagehands, I don’t know who they are. The security company might tell me they know them all, but in a busy summer people are subcontracted from all over the place. A good proportion will turn up with no ID at the start of the shift when they’re required inside the venue. It’s a difficult situation.”
Wood also made reference to the citizenAID Pocket Guide that contains concise advice for emergency situations, recommending it as a good tool for staff and audience alike.
Another issue discussed was the problem of queues – and whether a group of people confined in a small area outside an event, present an easier target than the event itself. A security adviser for the British government warned that individual new security measures can “interfere with each other” and called for a “holistic view” that includes the entire property, including its perimeter. “If your security policy is causing queues outside the venue, you’ve got your screening process wrong,” he said.
A selection of photos from 10 October 2017 are available to view here.