A police officer for more than 27 years, Jill McCracken established Operation Gothic which, through sharing of information and intelligence with event organisers, security and venues, significantly reduced crime, threats and risk at festivals and events.
As an event organiser, you take on legal responsibilities. These responsibilities extend to your workforce, performers, exhibitors, and delegates attending your event.
It’s worth remembering that although safety and security are nearly always grouped together as a subject title; measures to keep the public secure from attack may inadvertently cause a public safety issue; so the two must be considered together and a balance struck.
1) Set your safety and security objectives
What is it you want to achieve? How will you achieve it? Where do your responsibilities start and end? This doesn’t have to be complicated, but spending a little time asking yourself these questions will help you clarify your position and plans.
2) Document your intelligence and information
Is your event likely to be targeted by criminal groups or individuals who may wish to engage in anti-social behaviour? Where is the event taking place? What incidents occur at similar events, or at events held in the same location? Your intelligence picture will help you understand the risks.
3) Understand the risks and be prepared to change your event plans accordingly
What are the safety and security priorities based upon your identified risks? Is it emergency access to your site, or a strong search regime? Is it keeping queuing guests off the highways? Do you have the capacity to increase the relevant resourcing or physical protection if there is a change to the threat levels? Monitor the situation during your event too, and be prepared to change your plan and tactics if necessary.
4) Engage with safety advisory groups
Engage with safety advisory groups, licensing authority and other sources of information. Talking to the statutory bodies and external partners will help you to find out more information about your event environment and any current national issues regarding safety and security.
Police Security Coordinators (SecCo’s) are a source of very valuable information. Always refer to statutory and up-to-date good practice guidance: the Health and Safety Executive’s Event Safety guidance has been recently updated and is a good starting point. Ensure you fulfil any licensing conditions that you may have volunteered to adopt, or which may be imposed upon you.
5) Work with suitably qualified, competent and experienced people
Do your research and check that your safety officer, security and stewarding teams understand all potential threats and risks, and are suitably experienced or qualified to manage crowds effectively.
Crowd management is a skill and a profession, with recognised qualifications for safety managers. The consequences of a safety or security issue can be very serious, so protect yourself, your staff and the public, and employ a professional to design your emergency access, evacuation, contingency and crowd management plans.
6) Ensure your communication plans are effective
Keep your communication lines open with all parties before, during and after the event. Make sure you keep regular contact so you know what’s happening and are aware of potential impacts. Think about the safety and security messages you need to convey to your customers before and during your event. For example, what’s the best way of telling them what they can and can’t bring in; or where the emergency exits are located? This will save time on searches and help reduce queues.
7) Test and exercise your plans
This doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Bring your key people together and look at recent issues at similar events, then ask yourself honestly if you are equipped to manage such incidents. Document your findings and update your plans accordingly.
8) Document your risks, the mitigation for those risks and stay vigilant
You must keep audit trails and records of your decisions. Always remember that if there were to be an enquiry, you would need to show your thought process and demonstrate the information that informed your planning.
9) Ask yourself: have you have taken all reasonable steps to keep people safe and secure?
The answer should be yes. Always. Would you be happy for your family and friends to attend your event? Would you be safe in the knowledge that they were safe and secure? Not only do you have a moral duty to care for your clients and staff; but the consequences of failing to do so can be severe.
10) Debrief your event honestly and openly
Again, this does not have to be time consuming or expensive; but the best way to improve is to seek honest feedback which, if you’ve planned appropriately, is likely to be positive! Embrace the positives, address the shortcomings, and remember that we all make mistakes; but that any mistakes must be rectified moving forward.
This article was taken from a guide produced by GL Events for event planners new to the industry which can be found here.