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Tag: #covid

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.

Reflecting on the 365 days since the country went into lockdown.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of lockdown in the UK. While some restrictions were occasionally lifted, March 23rd, 2020 to March 23rd, 2021 has been a year like no other.

Many people have sadly lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving us to mourn the loss of family and friends. Many of our business partners and friends, especially across the hospitality and events industry, have had to manage enormous impacts on their businesses and their staff, some even closing their doors permanently.

Today, at Gallowglass Security, we have reflected on the past year. All those the country has lost and all those businesses that will not be opening their doors again.

The challenge of the COVID-19 virus has brought out the best in a lot of people. The pandemic and other people’s suffering has seen individuals, businesses, charities and governments work together. We have been lucky to partner with some of those organisations and individuals. As we have reflected, we have thought about the amazing work of some of those organisations and individuals and how their actions made a difference.

Helping the homeless

Special praise must be given to those that helped the homeless throughout the pandemic. Numerous charities and partners came forward to support these often-maligned individuals.

Hotels lent their empty rooms while governments and charities paid the bills, making it all possible. We were fortunate to support Crisis, the GLA, St Mungos and Westminster Council throughout the pandemic and see the impact of their work.

All these organisations deserve immense credit for being relentless in raising this issue in the public and political consciousness and making it happen.

The testing and vaccination centres

In the early stages of the virus’s spread, testing centres were set up across the country to understand the virus and how it was transmitted. In more recent months, vaccination centres have been popping up, helping with the remarkable roll-out of the vaccination program.

The individuals, volunteers and the local governments behind this roll-out, fulfilling the testing and vaccinations, deserve huge credit. We have seen their efforts firsthand in Lambeth. The individuals undertaking the testing have put themselves in harms way to ensure the health of others.

While we were working with them, we became greatly aware of the selflessness of the individuals who conducted the testing and administered the vaccine. They worked tirelessly to get the virus under control and deserve great praise for their ongoing efforts.

Security personnel

When reflecting on the past year, we have often thought about our staff, the wider security sector and the individuals within it. A large amount of our industry’s work went with the lockdown.

However, when many of us were working at home, keeping ourselves and our families safe, those within the security sector continued working.

For our part, our staff have selflessly gone about their jobs, supporting clients and customers throughout, often putting themselves in harms way against a hidden virus.

While many of the security industry may be overlooked, we believe they deserve great praise for their efforts throughout the crisis. Whether they were protecting vaccination centres, hospitals, empty office buildings, people’s homes, businesses or the homeless, they went to work every day to protect others and what matters most to them.

The return of live events

The government’s announcement that lockdown measures will end on the 21st June, has brought welcome relief to the hard hit events industry. There is clear optimism amongst event producers, that this vibrant and exciting sector is poised to bounce back. It has been clear to us that this optimism has been gathering at a pace prior to the recent announcement. This is reflected by high volume of queries that we have received from producers requiring event security provision this Summer. The hardship of the last 12 months, we believe, has created a real demand from event goers for the live entertainment experience, which will spark a revival in live events this year.

Gallowglass Security’s lockdown activity

Throughout lockdown, Gallowglass has provided security guards to a large number of public sector and charitable bodies. These include, the GLA, City of Westminster, the London Boroughs of Lambeth, Ealing, Havering, Waltham Forest, St Mungo’s and Crisis. The security aim of on behalf of these clients has been to enforce stringent anti-Covid measures to keep people safe. All this, whilst ensuring that we have the necessary measures in place to minimise the risk to our guard force. We continue to provide security at various London hotels that temporarily accommodate highly vulnerable rough sleepers. Additionally, we currently provide security guards and Covid marshals in the London boroughs of Ealing and Lambeth. Their purpose is to successfully manage the control measures at the Covid testing and mass rollout vaccination centers.

The Gallowglass Security approach

Our experience in the event sector has been invaluable in our providing effective anti-Covid security regimes. There has been the necessary up skilling of our guard force to deal with the specific challenges that Covid presents. The Gallowglass approach though, remains the same. Our aims are always to secure the desired outcomes for our clients. We deliver this through extensive planning and risk assessment before the start of any contract; together with the deployment of well briefed and led guards with the correct skill set for the task in hand. All this together with frontline service delivery that is effective and friendly; and where use of initiative is encouraged, and leadership valued. By virtue of necessity, our lead in times for assignments can be very short. Gallowglass has illustrated, time and time again, it’s remarkable capacity to deliver all security services at very short notice. We pride ourselves on our ability to react and deliver our services at short notice, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

The effect of our lockdown experience

An unintended, but positive consequence of the crisis is that it has strengthened and improved us. Our personnel and operating processes have been stress tested, and have excelled. Adversity has bred innovation, with an original and dynamic approach to both health and safety and training, being a very good example of this.

Final thoughts from Gallowglass Security’s Managing Partner – Giles Turnbull

“ I have been hugely impressed by how my team has adapted and evolved to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic. The whole of Gallowglass Security have shown admirable determination and intelligence, to overcome the myriad of problems presented by Covid .With the creative buzz of live events set to make its welcome recovery, we return to where we came from. We have always set and delivered very high standards for ourselves in all that we do. I have no doubt that our Covid experience has improved upon this, and that the quality of our event security services will go onto play a significant role in the success of live events this Summer.”

Hotel Quarantine Security

During the early stages of the global pandemic and the initial lock downs, Gallowglass Security were tasked with providing services to a large number of hotels in and around London who were providing accommodation to rough sleepers. During this time our front line staff deployed their skills to manage challenges presented by those not only suffering from COVID19 but the support and medical staff who were helping them.

Gallowglass Security’s health and safety and management teams have quickly adapted to the new environment which was changing on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. The Gallowglass Security teams lead by Nick and Peter developed new working practices and protocols to keep not only our team but others as safe as possible during a rapidly unfolding COVID situation.

Situation with the new quarantine hotels, introduced by law on the 15th of February for travellers arriving from 33 “red list” countries, is different however, Gallowglass Security has unique insight on how these hotels can be mobilised and managed going forward. Being one of the few companies who are under the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS), where police Chief Constables can choose to devolve limited powers to companies and staff like ours. This further galvanises our thoughts on how and where our industry can support the UK during the global pandemic.  

Many people have cited the Australian model as one which should be copied in the UK as they have suffered just 28,918 cases. There a number of scientific factors that we do not have the expertise to comment on but facts such as population density and climate is a known factor. For Gallowglass, looking at practicalities of Australian quarantining procedures we offer insights on how these may be carried out in the UK.

The main difference between people travelling to the UK and Australia is the type of transport used. The vast majority of travellers arriving in Australia will do so by air, this makes the logistics of social distancing between arrivals and the general population a simpler task. By comparison in the UK we have far more transport hubs and links, many in major areas of population including train, ferry and airport terminals. This will add an additional layer of complication for those in the UK tasked with mobilisation and deployment.

Australia originally employed private security to guard the hotels, this proved unsuccessful do to the professionalism of the staff deployed. This led the Australian government to use police forces to provide this security service at quarantine hotels. In the UK we are faced with a different set of circumstances however the same problems. Firstly the UK will have different logistical situation, the location of hotels and the way people enter into the country. From a government perspective there is a requirement not only to have more quarantine hotels but spread out over a much larger geographical area. This will still be a requirement if the numbers of arrivals is comparatively small as they cannot be concentrated around a handful of international airports like the Australian model.

The UK already has a much stretched police and armed forces services who may be able to lead on this project however will not be able to staff the whole deployment. The advantage the UK has over Australia is a well-developed and professional private security industry. Gallowglass is one of a handful of CSAS companies who are trained to support and liaise with police during a wide range of scenarios. This affords not only the government but the community as a whole a wider range of resources to draw upon.

There is a huge amount of public approval for the quarantine process, 90% in a recent YouGov poll, this means that there will not only be public opinion but pressure to ensure these hotels are run to the highest professional security standard and why Gallowglass Security is uniquely placed to help.

Gallowglass Security is offering security support to hotels helping foreign and UK nationals arriving back into the UK.

Hotels housing those that need to go into 10 days quarantine require professional, experienced security with a deep understanding of health and safety protocols during COVID.

Using our extensive experience of supporting the Greater London Authority and working with our hotel partners to house the homeless during COVID, we will be supporting hotels that are offering rooms to those going into self-isolation, for those coming from outside of the UK.

If you are interested in Gallowglass Security’s services, support for safeguarding your guests or advice around the appropriate Health and Safety precautions you need to take, please email us on dutyops@galsec.co.uk or call us on 02073 267 840

Front of House; Building Manager; Security Guard: One person, three jobs

Sadly, due to the Pandemic, it is impossible to keep all three roles active. A limited number of staff and visitors are coming into the building; therefore, reception and front of house staff are largely manning empty reception halls. However, checking on the buildings health and ensuring the site is secure remains critical. A burst pipe, running tap, faulty heating system or broken air conditioning units can cause damage to the building and even effect the company’s ability to work remotely, if servers are kept on site.

Asa result, we are seeing increased demand for an individual that can service all three roles; front of house, security and site inspection, at a fraction of the cost.

This has led Gallowglass Security to fill a new and developing service based on our highly experienced and dedicated existing team.

Historically we have always provided more than simply reception or security, many of our team started in security, but have developed significant building management experience as well as Front of House training from our very own, Amr Fadl, a former concierge at The Ritz and Browns Hotel.

While we can provide front of house and security services, we have also trained our team to have a strong technical knowledge and understanding of how buildings work. Through the wider Gallowglass Security team we can pull on resources to solve most problems without fuss.

Our team also has multi building experience and the confidence to start at an unfamiliar property and immediately get to work. They have the expertise to read existing building manuals and standard operating procedures and instinctively know what needs to be delivered and how. They are able to communicate problems to the property manager coherently and effectively. The team can also communicate with contractors regarding remedial work whilst constantly updating the property’s managers.

This unique skill also comes with the added benefit of Gallowglass Security flexibility and response. We are able to deploy with minimal notice and without lengthy minimum contracts. This gives building managers the ability to call on support when and where they most need it for as long or short a time as they require.

Further advantages of the wider Gallowglass Security support comes when things don’t go to plan. When a problem or work overruns we can continue to provide staff. If a leak is not fixed by the end of a shift, we will immediately deploy a fresh team member, we will not simply say “sorry times up I am going home”. We see all our work through to the end.

We offer this service based on years of experience proving the service as reliable, flexible and cost effective for our customers.

Covid 19 at the front line with the Gallowglass Security head of Health and Safety – Petar Petrov

There can be few events in living memory that have brought the importance of effective health and safety measures for business into sharper focus than the current Covid 19 pandemic. In order to ensure safe systems of work and to engender confidence amongst our work force and clients, this is an approach that we implemented at the outset of the crisis, and at a level that exceeded mandated official advice and guidelines. This evolving process has been achieved under the inspiring and informed leadership of our head of Health and Safety, Petar Petrov.

Petar’s  journey from teaching graduate in his native Bulgaria, through to Gallowglass Security guard before progressing to become our head of Health and Safety has been a particularly fascinating one. His epiphany moment came when deployed to man guard a super prime construction development in central London where he came to keenly appreciate workplace hazards, and sought to apply his intellect and academic background in a way to secure safe systems of working.

From there he studiously applied himself resulting in his achieving a full gamut of NEBOSH qualifications and culminated in his securing through BSI lead auditor status in ISO 45001 (managing occupational Health and Safety at work). Currently he awaits his results of his second degree in Business Studies where he hopes to secure a 1st class honours degree, and from there he anticipates going on to secure a PhD in the wellness aspect of H&S.

Having suffered Covid himself in the infancy of the pandemic, Petar understood that this virus was more serious than other respiratory diseases such as the common cold and flu, and that immediate stringent control measures were required to minimise the risk of Covid transmission at all Gallowglass sites including head office.

With alacrity, and before recommended by public authorities, rigorous Covid 19 risk assessments were undertaken at head office, and at all sites where our guard force are deployed together with PPE distribution; with the effect that immediate control measures were introduced to ensure safe systems of work for all Gallowglass Security staff and affected stakeholders. Petar fully appreciated that a generic approach to this task would be wholly insufficient to address the risks posed by the virus and that a nuanced approach was required by him, to reflect the particular and specific risks posed to each of our service sectors.

This was a considerable undertaking as it included hotels accommodating rough sleepers on behalf of the GLA, the City of Westminster, the London Boroughs of Havering and Waltham Forrest and the renowned homeless charities, St Mungo’s and Crisis. All this together with our fixed ongoing commitments in the public and private sectors requiring both security and front of house cover. Additionally both our street patrol teams as well as our VPI and mobile response teams were similarly assessed, with the correct measures being introduced to safeguard their well-being.

Petar took the view that the measures introduced, would only be effective with ongoing tool box training amongst all Gallowglass Security staff. With this mind he formulated Covid specific awareness training which he delivered at each site and in person. Included in the training syllabus were measures borne of his own research into American medical case studies, which revealed, prior to the knowledge being in the public domain for example, that the loss of taste and smell was a potential symptom of the virus.

As society’s response to the virus has evolved, so has Petar’s. With the introduction of mass testing and vaccination sites, so has there been the resulting demand for our SIA manned guarding and Covid Marshalls of these centers, such as the ones rolled out by the London Borough of Lambeth at various sites. In turn the formulation and introduction of specific Covid 19 safety measures have been necessary to meet the unique demands of this vital work.

It is not enough for Petar to introduce these vital and effective measures, he is determined to ensure that they are fit for purpose at all times. In particular he records and analyses the clusters self isolation and Covid transmission data amongst Gallowglass Security staff to establish whether patterns are emerging as this helps in turn to determine the efficacy of the control measures, and whether or not revision is required.

Whilst the future is unclear, what remains a constant is that the Gallowglass Security H&S approach under Petar’s leadership to the risks posed by the virus, will be relentless and unremitting.

The Managing Partner of Gallowglass Security, Giles Turnbull says “ From the outset of the pandemic I have been hugely impressed by the bold initiative taken by Petar to introduce the necessary measures required to safeguard our highly valued guard force In the vital work they undertake for the benefit of society. What is particularly impressive is that regardless of his impressive range of H&S training credentials , that he has used his own intellect and judgment to introduce a range of measures that are unique and effective, and that elevate H&S beyond a tick box exercise”