Contingency planning for event security

Event Security

Contingency planning for event security

In order for an event to run as successfully and safely as possible, event organisers must be proactive in their security approach. Effective risk management lies within the organiser’s ability to identify the potential risks and threats and implement effective security solutions to mitigate them. At the heart of any event’s security plan and its resilience to threats is its risk register. A 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.

Mike O’Neill, chairman of the British Security Industry Association’s (BSIA) Specialist Services Section, commented: “It is absolutely essential to know what you’re protecting yourself against. Today, we are not just threatened by large scale terror attacks, but also ‘lone-wolf’ or self-radicalised assailants who may not even be directly related to terrorist organisations but possibly suffer from mental health problems.”

In fact, risks to an event’s continuity can arise in a variety of ways, whether it be a planned attack, a bomb threat or even a flood or power outage within the grounds. The events team, therefore, must identify these variable different risks for their risk register and consequently have contingency plans in place that detail how they would react to such threats. Depending on the level of the threat, contingency plans can range from closing down a specific area of the event to the evacuation of the event completely. It is very important for event organisers to take a thorough and proactive approach to developing these plans, as proper planning will have a more beneficial impact if a threat does occur.

Mike added: “When it comes to developing contingency plans, recognising the impact of a threat is much more important than identifying the motivation behind an attack. After all, it is the impact of an attack that will cause the most damage.”

It can sometimes be difficult for an events team to adequately identify its risk register on its own; as such, outsider knowledge provided by professional security consultants can be hugely valuable. Security consultancies provide independent professional support to ensure that measures required by clients correspond to both existing and emerging threats, whilst complementing an event’s environment and operation. Working closely with the events team, consultants can help to design a holistic security strategy that complements the event’s operation in order to address the protection of people, building, assets and ultimately, reputations. Security consultants can also act as project manager, overseeing the implementation of security controls and ensuring that all the necessary procedures are carried out.

Rapidly deployable security
Major events do not always take place in permanent purpose built venues, but often in temporary environments too, such as a festival or a controlled protest. Some events – such as a protest – can also be announced with short notice and in these cases in particular, the need for rapid but reliable security solutions is paramount.

Advances in surveillance and communications technology means that the rapid deployable nature of CCTV solutions can make them an ideal fit for successful event monitoring. Recent video surveillance solutions also mean that such systems are able to be installed without any major works and consequently redeployed to new areas of a site where required. Fully integrated mobile CCTV towers are a very important part of fast‑track video surveillance. They typically feature an array of different cameras and detectors, along with a compact Digital Video Recorder. In a matter of hours, these towers can be towed to a specified location, automatically extended and effectively operating. Devices within the towers can be powered via the site’s mains, on-site generators, solar panels or fuel cells and can be the perfect solution at remove sites lacking in access to a power grid.

In addition to CCTV towers, camera platforms with built-in recording are another useful rapidly deployable solution. These towers can be attached to an existing part of a building or vicinity – such as a lamp post over-looking the arena – in order to cover any surveillance gaps. Vehicle-based mobile solutions where ruggedised DVRs and cameras can be mounted to the roof or dash of a vehicle, are also effective solutions that act as a highly visible deterrent whilst also carrying the advantage of requiring minimal set-up. These vehicles can be parked up on site and then moved to new areas of the event when needed without having to be set up again – a cost and time efficient solution.

Crowd management
Access control and crowd management are two extremely important elements for the successful running of any event. Access control provides the ability to control, monitor and restrict the movement of people, assets or vehicles in, out and around a building or site. Major events tend to attract thousands of people and, as such, it is essential that these people move in and out of a building as safely as possible, avoiding the risk of any dangerous crowd crushes. Ticketed events also require effective access control to ensure that no one is entering the event without a ticket. 
Permanent purpose built venues will often have electronic access control systems in place; these systems are generally comprised of three key components: the physical barrier such as a door, turnstile or speed gate, the identification device such as a ticket, and the door controller and software which decides who can gain access through which entry point and at what time. These systems can be extremely beneficial not only in controlling who comes into the event, but also where they can access – such as restricting certain rooms to VIP access only. At temporary venues where electronic systems are unable to be deployed, physical barriers or gates can be used equipped with a steward at each point who can manually check tickets and allow or restrict access where necessary.

In general, events stewards themselves are a vital part of effective crowd control. Having a physical human presence not only makes event goers feel safe, but they can also carry out important safety measures like bag checks, queue management, assisting people with injuries or even intervening with fights that may break out within the crowds. Since these security personnel are so vital to the smooth running of events, it is of the utmost importance that they are trained to a high quality standard and equipped to deal with any potential threat that may arise.

A code of practice
Recognising the need for such standards, the BSIA’s Police and Public Services Section recently developed a new Code of Practice for Security Searches. The new Code is intended for voluntary use and sets out some guidelines that can assist businesses in developing their own security procedures and guidelines relating to ‘frequent’ searches, which includes searching property and persons, preventing entry into a restricted area or locating prohibited or dangerous items.

Speaking about the guide, Dirk Wilson, Chairman of the Police and Public Services Section, comments: “The idea behind having a standard to reduce risk to personnel who search, and to ensure those who search have a real idea that the task is being carried out well and under a set of guidelines both promotes professionalism and confidence.”

The Code provides guidelines for searches of various types, including searching for unauthorised persons or persons representing a threat, and emphasises the importance that search methods and thoroughness are commensurate with the risk and proportionate to every individual situation. Searchers must address concerns for safety and the respect of individuals, avoiding any discrimination and considering cultural and religious sensitivities. Searches are not always undertaken by security personnel, but also by in-house searchers or others who aren’t employed by a security company.

As such, it is essential that any individual conducting a search has been selected and screened, complying with requirements of British Standard 7499. For the peace of mind of the event goers, searchers should always carry an identity card with them, irrespective of if they are wearing a uniform or not.

High-quality training should also be provided to these individuals by competent, qualified training persons. For companies that do not have their own training provision, it is recommended that they use a competent training provider that is aware of National Occupation Standards.

Post-event analysis
Once an event is over, it is also extremely beneficial for the events team to review the event and highlight any problems and recognise the successes.

Throughout events, experts are continuously monitoring how the day is running and this information can then be used for a debrief. During the debriefing, the team should identify any hazards, incidents or injuries that were reported and any other safety issues that may have been encountered. Information from this can then be taken into account for risk registers and contingency plans for future events.

Recognising both negatives and positives is a beneficial way to ensure continual success and improvement for the future.


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