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The importance of effective events security
With British Summer time set to be filled with an array of music festivals, sporting meets and community events, there has never been a more important time to stress the vital role that security products and personnel play in keeping these events secure. James Kelly looks at some of the important considerations of event security
Over the past few years, large scale events and crowded places have found themselves the target of terror attacks, including the attack at the Stade de France and in the Bataclan Theatre in Paris in 2015, the attack during Bastille Day in Nice in July 2106, the attack at the Berlin Christmas markets last November and most recently the attack at Manchester Arena in May. Such events can be attractive to terrorists, particularly as they result in large crowds of people being gathered within the same public space, often with more congested crowds upon exit. With this in mind, it is essential that event organisers are assessing these safety concerns and implementing measures to mitigate these potential risks.
Alan Meyrick, senior risk analyst for G4S Risk Consulting, explains: “Event security, particularly sporting events, has improved to best practice, legislation, industry standards, reputational risk and so on. Venues, whether concert halls, festivals, stadiums or arenas, are often naturally-secure sites, with physical architecture – whether that is permanent or temporary – increasing the target’s security profile. The addition of security stewards to conduct access control and search regimes, as well as technical security measures, creates a relatively robust security environment when compared to immediately outside the venue. This creates somewhat of a paradox; the time and effort to pass through venue security to the safer internal environment means that people are potentially exposed to greater risk while waiting to enter or when exiting in a crowd.
“Exiting en masse is arguably the most concerning factor and event organisers, through the use of staggered egress or incentives such as post-event entertainment, ‘meet and greet’ or some other strategies, may have to, purely for security purposes, keep attendees in the venue for longer while egress is managed more safely. That said, is that feasible? It may well be difficult to get public buy-in for a staggered or delayed exit from a venue, possible cost implications, potential health and safety concerns to having people remain in the venue post-event. These and other factors need careful consideration.”
It is important for event managers and law enforcement agencies to manage both the space within the venue, as well as the surrounding streetscape, in order to ensure the safe movement of people in, out and around the venue. Event organisers have a duty of care to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for attendees and staff alike. As such, it is vital for organisers to undertake a complete risk assessment of the event, starting with the risk register. It is absolutely paramount for organisers to be aware of exactly what they should be protecting themselves against, and at the heart of any event’s resilience to threats is its risk register. The risk register is a key risk management tool that helps identify and plan for the risks it may face and the best ways to counteract them. Identifying the risk register can help organisers develop contingency plans that can be implemented in the event of a threat. It can be useful to enlist the help of a security consultant to develop the register and corresponding contingency plans, as an outsider perspective can prove beneficial in identifying threats that may not have originally come to mind. Independent professional support can also help ensure that the security measures in place correspond to the threats, whilst also complementing the event’s environment and overall operation.
Hostile Vehicle Mitigation
With multiple terror attacks of late using vehicles as the main weapon, it is especially important to consider Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) techniques as part of the contingency planning. Recent attacks have shown that the main focus of vehicular attacks tend to be public open spaces or temporary events where people are enjoying themselves. Generally, these are areas with limited permanent perimeter security, making them ‘soft targets’ where the likelihood of mass casualties is increased. As such, it is essential that event organisers are considering HVM tactics as part of their security measures. Organisers must consider the necessary security barriers as well as how they can fit into the surrounding streetscape.
Alan comments: “Hostile Vehicle Mitigation in various forms, is – and has been – the initial ‘go-to’ products to stop such attacks (as those in Nice, Berlin and London), as well as Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED) attacks such as the Glasgow Airport attack in 2007. HVM in different forms, including bollards, concrete planters, concrete benches and other physical architecture, are all used. Existing infrastructure and utilities, existing hardware and hard landscaping, the proximity to points of egress or access, as well as integration with the existing streetscape and how HVM methods may impact pedestrians and vehicular movement are all key considerations.”
When it comes to HVM events, organisers will need to consider the most suitable techniques, taking into account the cost of the installation and the suitability of the solution. It is especially important to consider HVM requirements at the earliest stage of event organisation, ensuring that if the wrong products are selected, there is time for remedial action.
Since events often take place in temporary spaces, there are a variety of temporary, mobile HVM forms that can be implemented. These include water or sand filled barriers, and other, more rudimentary solutions, such as boulders, concrete blocks or other heavy objects that can still be moved relatively easily at reduced costs.
As with any type of security product or service, there are standards that HVM techniques should adhere to in order to ensure they are fit for purpose. There are a couple of key standards that provide a benchmark for HVM equipment, as well as guidance for the installation of such products. Perhaps the most relevant for HVM is the British Standard Institute’s PAS 68 – Impact Test Specification for Vehicle Security Barriers, which is the UK standard and the security industry benchmark for HVM equipment. Any equipment should be tested in conjunction with PAS 69 – Guidance for the Selection, Installation and Use of Vehicle Security Barrier Systems, which provides product installation guidance.
The importance of quality
When it comes to effective event security – whether it be HVM techniques, access control measures or crowd management services – the importance of choosing services from a quality supplier is always of the utmost importance.
Discussing this point in particular, Andrew Murphy, managing director of Eventsec, commented: “When reviewing security at events, purchasers should consider various factors prior to their decision. Many companies offer event security, however, many do not have the relevant experience or operational capacity to perform the role. It is very important that the organiser checks if the prospective company has appropriate insurance. It is also important that purchasers review the insurance cover and clarify with the underwriter as to what insurance is in place and whether it covers events and issues such as wilful acts, front of stage and ejection. With the present severe UK warning, it is important that we constantly monitor our security provision. It is essential that whoever is engaged, has relevant experience, has the operational capacity and can provide assurances to the organiser with regards to recruitment, vetting and training. This can be ascertained and qualified by companies who hold membership of trade bodies and have external accreditations such as ISO 9001 and Investors in People as an example.”
With recent terror attacks no doubt being on the minds of the general public, it is absolutely essential that they have confidence in the provider of event security.
Andy adds: “Often, cost is the most important factor to organisers, but in light of recent events, staff experience, training and the supporting management structure will help mitigate the impact of incidents and should help the procurement decision. The staff employed in Manchester during the recent attack should be commended, demonstrating immense bravery and resilience as the first responders in what was a truly awful situation. Events will continue and resolve is strong, I would encourage event organisers to review their procedures and decision making procedures when procuring security. They should ensure when it comes to procuring security that they engage with experienced and reputable operators. It is important that we minimise the impact of all hazards, and events pose many risks. Therefore, it is very important that event organisers understand and recognise their responsibilities. The procurement of experienced and reputable companies will help ensure the safety of all attending events and mitigate when incidents occur.”
Members of the BSIA are inspected to rigorous criteria, including compliance with the relevant British and European standards for their product or service, ensuring that they will offer a reputable service.