The live music industry is at the “vanguard” of counter-terrorism, following recent attacks in Manchester and Las Vegas. This was the message from Security minister Ben Wallace speaking at the inaugural Event Safety & Security Summit (E3S).
E3S, an invitation-only event, drew to a close on 10 October, and was attended by 250 delegates from 22 countries, among them venues, festivals, promoters, sports professionals, trade associations and security experts.
The summit comprised four panels discussing relevant safety and security issues in the events sector. These include the panel “Preparation, Planning & Prevention’, ‘Rings of Steel: Securing Your Event’, ‘The 3 Rs: Reaction, Response & Recovery’, and ‘The Show Goes On… Moving forward together’.
E3S has issued a report for each panel and below is a summary of key comments and agreements of the first panel ‘Preparation, Planning & Prevention’.
The panel discussed how the threat has changed; discussing the recent varied attack methodologies and stated in the UK the threat is being aimed at “high-profile targets”, such at concerts and other live events.
Mark Breen of Safe Events, made the point that all threats need to be properly risk-assessed. Breen noted that in Ireland, the concept of information-sharing between event organisers and the police service (Gardai) is in its early stages and that there is no set structure or procedure by which organisers can access this type of threat analysis. It is that type of information sharing that will further allow organisers to properly risk-assess their events, thus enabling them to institute appropriate measures, for realistic threats.
The panel agreed that the sharing of information and intelligence from the Police could improve and that there was no clear consistency not only from Police but wider multi agency partners within the UK the panel called for a more consistent approach from Safety Advisory Groups nationally.
On the private security front, TSG’s Duncan Cullen emphasised the need to ensure a consistent message across the venue’s entire security staff, with frontline staff trained to a high standard and confident of their role in the event of an attack, either through regular live testing or, as Latham suggested, tabletop exercises.
The second panel of E3S, ‘Rings of Steel: Securing Your Event’, focused on a topic that became a theme throughout the day: not neglecting crowd and general event safety at all events amid an industry wide focus on heightened security outside.
“This summer focused so much on security that I’m worried the safety aspect – crowd management, stopping drugs being brought on site and even weather planning– is going to fall away,” said Gentian Events’ Eric Stuart. That focus on security been a direct contributor to lots of unnecessary accidents at events this summer where people were hurt.”
Wembley Stadium’s Liam Boylan said his customers have come to expect rigorous security on the door – to the extent they will complain if they feel inadequately searched. The FA Cup final at Wembley, explained Boylan, was the first major event following the Manchester Arena bombing, leading the venue to implement heightened security and, for the first time, pat-downs of 100% of people coming through the gate.
The final E3S panel, ‘The Show Goes On… Moving forward together’, considered what security at live events will look like in the future – and who’s going to pay for it.
From a promoters’ perspective, Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery said there is a “huge expectation” from artists about the level of security at venues, with “most international acts bringing a bigger security detail, and are quite detailed on what they want and how they want it, which we haven’t really seen before”.
He spoke of the need to “manage expectations”, considering the limited amount of money in the pot, especially when many artists are now submitting riders asking for armed police.
John Sharkey said SMG Europe is focusing on a new increased security environment whilst getting people into their venues earlier.
Professor Chris Kemp, founder, CEO and owner of Mind over Matter Consultancy, called for a universal set of security standards across the world’s major events venues.
Kemp concluded that it’s best to avoid responding to the methodology of individual attacks – “this has happened, so let’s jump on that” – and instead formulate a coherent plan with all venue staff to be prepared for any eventuality. “These attacks,” he said, “are random and unpredictable. But our response isn’t.”
The summit was produced in collaboration with the European Arenas Association (EAA), and National Arenas Association (NAA) in the UK. A number of other leading theatre and venue organisations and live event security companies have also joined forced to pull the event together held at the Intercontinental London Hotel at The O2.