Katie Torrance is the E-commerce Manager at First Fence, a frontrunner in the UK fencing and security supplies industry.
Every year over 7,000 major outdoor events are held in the UK, with over 85 million collective visitors. However, with an increase in attacks over recent years it is crucial that there are security measures in place to keep all attendees, workers and acts safe. Here, First Fence, a leading supplier of security measures, discuss what security steps you can take to minimise any risks.
Metal Detectors & Bag Searches
Following last year’s devastating atrocities in Manchester and London, festivals have upped their security to reduce ever-looming terrorist threats. One of the main problems with such attacks is the non-sophisticated and random nature of them.
Festival workers have received additional training to carry out more comprehensive bag searches whilst ensuring that festivalgoers aren’t held up too much. Last year, organisers at Leeds Festival only allowed people to take bags into the arena that were smaller than an A4 sheet of paper.
It’s recommended that all festivalgoers minimise their luggage so as not to slow down queues. It is also wise to avoid multiple trips through the barriers, as opposed to carrying all bags through in one go.
With Coachella taking place in April in California, workers have recently received emergency training to specifically deal with mass shootings, in addition to the provision of standard metal detectors.
Whilst it’s sad that we should even have to consider these eventualities, it’s important that everyone stays safe. By planning for all possible scenarios, it means that everyone can enjoy the festival and feel safe.
Educate the Public
Festival organisers have been encouraged to advise members of the public to educate themselves on what they should do, should they find themselves in the horrific situation of a terrorist attack.
The government has produced a handy leaflet, detailing what to do if people find themselves in the midst of a weapons attack, and have also created a stay safe video. It’s important that you give this information to your staff in advance and ensure everyone is on the same page.
This year, to help keep your security tight at your upcoming festival, educate attendees on how they can stay safe should such an incident happen. Hopefully it will never come to that, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Security measures need to be put in place before your event even starts. Get an idea of numbers attending and carry out a risk assessment. Ensure there are plenty of entrances and exits, and create a clear concourse for people to walk through. Consider any temporary structures that could collapse, and the eventuality that people may try climbing on structures and equipment.
Having barriers in place can be beneficial for crowds, especially due to an increase in the number of vehicles being driven into large crowds (something which the Edinburgh Fringe advocated last year). However, the other thing to consider with barriers and fences, is the possibility (however slight), that a crowd surge could result in people being crushed.
To help keep festivalgoers secure, ensure all of your workers are 100% clear on their roles and responsibilities. You can’t go wrong with hiring several stewards, as they can show people around and monitor crowds for any suspicious behaviour.
Work with Local Authorities
Doing risk assessments and having backup plans for all eventualities is a great way to up security at your festival, but you can help to make attendees even safer by working with local authorities, emergency services and the police.
Once you’ve developed an emergency plan, share it with them, and they can advise you on anything you may have missed or let you know if there is a better, more effective way of doing something.
In your plan, don’t forget to include key members of the emergency services, such as the nearest police station and fire rescue services. Try and obtain one or two key contact names at each of these so someone is then aware of your event.
Other Security Considerations
There are additional steps and measures you can take to ensure your event or festival is secure and runs smoothly. Remember, preparation is the key:
• Security staff budget?
Set your stall out early with a budget for your security measures. This is not a time to cut corners however, so you’ll need a robust budget that is realistic. You will need basic security staff covering all exits and entrances, a few dotted around the venue and a room or cordoned off area for security HQ.
• Plan for the worst
Hopefully you won’t need it but having a plan of action should the worst occur is vital. Ensure all your staff are aware of the emergency evacuation procedure for guests, VIPs or performers and themselves too. Have a contact list and a safe route to the nearest hospital available and put together a robust plan for locking down the venue should a major incident occur.
• Size judgements
You can’t be everywhere at once, so depending on the size of your event or festival you may want to put together silo teams who can handle security. If you have hired an external security team, their should be a team manager or supervisor that you can consult with and make sure you’re on the same page with event policies.
• Invest in technology
Again, this comes down to the size of your event. As a minimum, all your security staff should have direct communications through walkie talkies or radios. However, for larger events why not invest in temporary CCTV? You can then have a member of the team keeping a birdseye view on your event and prevent problems before they occur.
Ultimately, festivals are a place to have fun, enjoy the many live acts and spend time with friends; and whilst chance of an attack is unlikely, it’s something that you need to consider, should the unthinkable happen. By planning ahead with these four tips, you can help to ensure your festival runs smoothly, whilst knowing that everyone is as safe as they can possibly be.