If it weren’t for security services, festivals would be the perfect microcosm for demonstrating exactly why Anarchist utopias wouldn’t work. Taking thousands of try-hard teenagers away from the panopticon of parental supervision and placing them in a field with abundant alcohol and ambiguous narcotics often brings out the fledgling festivalgoers’ propensity for the destruction of the self, property and occasionally others. In addition – the ubiquity of legal highs (whose dangers often exceed their legal counterparts) coupled with organised crime and general intoxicant-fuelled debauchery necessitates responsive, well-trained and professional security personnel.
The problem, predictably, is cost. However, whereas a total security solution will take a sizeable chunk out of a festival’s budget, Definitive Event Policing hope to circumvent this financial demand by collaborating with and supplementing local police services.
Festival Insights spoke to Definitive’s David Boswell about the DEP training programme, the biggest threats to festivalgoers, and how much an event stands to save through employing their services.
Festival Insights: So correct me if I’m wrong but it seems that Definitive Event Policing was created as a response to the high costs involved in standalone security services, and what sets you apart is your ability to supplement and collaborate with local police forces. Is Definitive available as a total security solution as well, and if so how does it differ from its competitors in the field?
David Boswell: DEP was launched to enable events the opportunity to plan for a safe event which does not rely on or require a police presence. There will be some events which may always require police input but, with DEP such a requirement can now be considerably reduced, providing cost-saving advantages for the event organiser and reducing the strain on local police. Even events that don’t have police onsite can now take advantage of our affordable event policing resources – helping to maximise public safety and prevent crime. DEP is the ‘new look’ event policing / advance security package, the affordable alternative to special police services, and one which events of all types and sizes can benefit from.
FI: Could you shed some light on the training your officers receive, and how their authority and equipment differs from regular police officers?
DB: DEP Officers are selected from annual assessment days which DEP run throughout the year. These assessment days test the knowledge, fitness, confidence, team working skills and personality of candidates. We want to ensure those working on the front line for DEP are the most suitable and capable. Those successful through assessment receive DEP Officer training which is far in advance of security industry standard.
The DEP training programme is on a pass or fail basis, and covers a range of policing tactics specific to working in and around events. An example of some key areas DEP Officers are trained in are: crime scene preservation, the law including operational responsibilities, arrest and restraint procedures, evidence gathering including statement taking and documentation, through to paired and multi-officer tactics, and this list is by no means exhaustive.
Those who pass entry level DEP training must also pass annual refresher training and development courses. This continuity of training maintains the standards of our officers. Our annual development courses further expand officer skills into areas such as dealing with victims of crime and major incident handling.
Our equipment is similar to what police use; it needs to be due to the same role we undertake at events. So naturally our officers will be in hi-visibility body protection, and often carry equipment to aid them in their day-to-day duties. As part of DEP deployment at events we will be required to ensure the terms and conditions of the event are adhered to. In the event someone breaks the terms and conditions, our authority is no different from any other contractor in a similar position, to bring that particular breach back in line with the terms and conditions of the event. This responsibility also coincides with the DEP mission statement.
FI: Which festivals have you worked with so far, and in what exact capacity? Have certain events posed unique challenges?
DEP officially launched in February 2015 however, prior to the launch the concept was successfully piloted at one of the world’s largest green field events. DEP are at present in progressive talks with some great events, keen to see our resources play a significant part in their safety plans. I can’t disclose these events just yet however, as our services are confirmed we shall certainly be letting the industry know. We want everyone to see the difference DEP can make.
No unique challenges just yet, but to touch on your question, cultural differences has been an impact factor for us when dealing with certain incidents. As a result DEP now provide awareness on cultural differences within their training programme.
FI: What would you say are the biggest general threats to festivalgoers’ safety?
DB: I certainly believe the availability of drugs and theft are the two key areas in which festivalgoers are routinely placed at risk.
FI: This may be considered a contentious issue, but it’s well noted that the proliferation of legal highs and the increasing ambiguity of illegal substances is a huge safety issue for attendees. What methods do you find to be the most effective in minimising this threat? Parklife, for example, have partnered with The Loop to do drug testing onsite, demonstrating and communicating the dangers of these drugs.
DB: The Parklife partnership with The Loop is a fantastic example of what should be being done. Creating awareness detailing the effects legal/illegal highs can have on a person’s safety and the safety of others, including the medical impacts, I also believe is a great way to educate people. Many events take this approach which is supported by security measures such as random searching of persons on entry to and within the event.
FI: If a festival organiser opts to use Definitive’s services as opposed to another security outfit, how much could they potentially save?
DB: DEP resources can generate savings in excess of 50% of an event’s police spend. This type of saving is significant and can be better invested to other parts of the event, such as acts and attractions or infrastructure. Events that can’t afford police now have an opportunity to benefit from an event policing service at affordable costs.
For more information, check out Definitive’s official website.