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Author: Jaco Nieuwoudt

Planning for a public event? Security is more than just a guard on the gate…

The security for public events has changed drastically over the last 10 years putting an increased premium on the role of Security  and security planning for an event.

In years gone by, security guards were largely hired to check tickets at the gate and walk the perimeter, but a security presence all over the event is now key to ensuring the event is a safe and fun experience for everyone.  

As events have become increasingly regulated and health and safety has become a critical factor at any event, security planning has become a corner stone of any public event. From your small free to enter community event in the local park, street parades or large music and entertainment events, the security planning process remains the same. Gone are the days that you would just calculate 1 guard per 100 visitors or just cover the emergency gates. Today’s planning is very thorough.

To help you think about how to plan your event and avoid the traps AJ Tracey fell into, in Manchester, here are some key points to consider, for example:

You must be familiar with your venue

By knowing the venue inside out you will be able to determine how porous the venue is, and this a key factor when determining the amount and type of event security you would need. This will also enable you to put your plan on paper by creating a diagram by position and task. Once you have created this dot plan you will be able to brief the guard deployed and they will be able to visualise the entire security strategy instead of just understanding their role on one position. For outdoor venues this will enable you to set boundaries and recommend any additional security solutions like temporary fencing, gates and so on.

Understand attendee risk

What type of event is it? Are there any attendees that can pose a risk or represent a company or movement that cause controversy that might lead to protest on confrontation? For out door events is there any other events, marches or protest in the vicinity of your event that might cause disruption or increased risk to your visitors?

Crowd Control

This is one of the main functions of the event security officer and they may be asked to perform some of the following tasks. Keeping key points of the site clear and moving by asking visitors that might be blocking an emergency exit, creating a cordon when dealing with an emergency, access control by checking tickets and searching bags, restricting access to back of hour and VIP areas. To name a few. It is also really important to ensure the venue or event never exceeds the venue capacity as this will cause overcrowding and may lead to serious injury or even death.

Assessing the potential of a terrorist or large-scale attack

Over the past ten years this has become a real risk for large outdoor events and festivals as they pose a soft target of large amounts of people gathered together with temporary infrastructure to protect them. It is because of this that we spend more and more time ensuring that we have HVM plans in place (Hostile vehicle mitigation), a robust searching setup and ensure that all the guards deployed have done as much training as possible to ensure that all parties involved have a firm understanding of what is expected of them and why the plans are in place. Following the Manchester bombings, a new law called Martyn’s Law, which will force event organisers and security suppliers to ensure that they have considered all potential risks and that a robust plan is in place before the event can go ahead.

Good communication is key

It is really important to have a good communications plan in place and also make sure you have other methods of communication in the event of an emergency. Keeping communication tight is vitally important to firstly make sure that the message goes to the right person and it is as clear and concise as possible, secondly to avoid misunderstanding and panic for example if they guard do not sue the correct code words and a member of the public hears a guard message to the control room as this can cause panic.

Venue/Event evacuation plan

This is a culmination of all of the above and the most important part of your Security plan/Strategy, and in my view it is what determines the minimum security numbers needed for the event.

Gallowglass Security take great pride in our event security planning and event security services. Events are in our DNA and with our years of experience there is very little we have not prepared for or dealt with. If you are considering a public event, please contact us to help you plan for a fun, safe event.