As an event planner or event co-ordinator, your career will see you organise a range of events and activities. In addition to making sure that everything runs smoothly, and that your delegates have a fantastic time, it is also your duty to ensure the safety and security of those in attendance.
Every event you organise will have its own unique security requirements. That said, some types of events always require certain security measures to be put in place. In this guide, we are going to look at some of the most common types of events and outline the basic security measures they require.
Although different events will have different security considerations, there is one thing that you should always do before planning an event: assess your security risks.
A comprehensive security assessment will allow you to identify potential security issues so that you are able to put in place effective counter measures.
In order to be effective, your security assessment should consider absolutely everything that could feasibly create a security issue. Your security assessment should be conducted alongside – or as part of – your overall risk assessment (which will also include more general health and safety risks).
Your security assessment should cover at least the following:
• Theft Prevention: Any event presents thieves with an opportunity to commit crime. Thieves may target delegates’ belongings and event equipment. In order to ensure you and your guests’ property is protected, you need to put in place anti-theft measures.
• Access Control: Events – especially high-profile and popular ones – may attract unwanted guests. Gate-crashers often go to extreme lengths to gain access to an event they wish to attend. To keep intruders out, you will have to implement effective access control.
• Crowd Control: Hosting large groups of people can lead to a variety of issues. To keep your guests safe, you will need to consider crowd management strategies, crowd control techniques and what equipment (such as fencing) you will need to use.
• Emergency Planning and First Aid: Different kinds of emergencies (for example, injury, illness, violence, criminal activity, etc.) require different solutions. So that you can deal with these properly, you need to put in place strategies for each.
• Evacuation Planning: In the event of certain types of emergency, large numbers of people will have to be evacuated from your venue. To ensure that this can be done safely and effectively, it’s important you have an evacuation plan in place.
By creating strategies to deal with these elements, you will ensure you have the most important factors covered. However, it is important to note that a proper security assessment will assess these elements in significant depth. For example, if you are planning a music festival, your access control strategy will likely include:
• Perimeter fencing
• Ticket checks
• Wrist band allocation
• Bag searches
• Mobile patrols
• And security guards
We will look at greater depth at each of these elements in relation to specific types of event throughout this guide. But the main takeaway at this point is that your event security assessment should be both comprehensive (considering, and provisioning for, every potential security issue) and unique (taking into account every security factor relevant to your specific event).
There is no template for a thorough security assessment. So, it’s important you do it, and do it right.
Corporate events and conferences are hugely popular. In the UK alone, a staggering £19.9 billion is spent on professional conferences and meetings every year. From relatively small gatherings of less than 50 people, to huge conferences with more than 1,000 delegates, corporate events and conferences come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes.
Corporate guests are likely to carry expensive items, such as smartphones, laptops and tablets. As such, it is important that you provide a secure area where valuables can be stored safely for the duration of the event.
Depending on your venue, you may have access to lockers or a secure (i.e., locked) cloak room. If so, make sure you take advantage of these facilities by allowing guests to use them. More likely, however, you will have to create a secure area yourself. This could be a small room with only one point of access. This should be constantly monitored by either a trusted member of staff or a security guard.
Additionally, corporate events often incorporate supplier areas and stands. These areas may contain expensive equipment used by suppliers to demonstrate products to delegates. As the event organiser, it is your responsibility to ensure that suppliers’ belongings remain safe. Because areas such as these have high levels of foot traffic, and can become very busy, you should position event security guards at every entrance and exit and should conduct regular mobile patrols to keep an eye on what’s going on within the chaos.
If available, CCTV surveillance may serve as an additional layer of defence.
Tickets to corporate events can be very expensive. Because of this, it’s important that people without a ticket are not permitted access. Often, corporate events take place inside (if you’re planning an outside corporate event, you may also want see the Access Control for Festivals section below). This means that you need to have proper ticket inspections in operation at any used entrances. Additional entrances (such as backdoors and side doors) should be monitored – especially when your event first opens – to ensure nobody is able to sneak in.
Ticket collection/inspection should include marking off delegates’ names on a list as they arrive. This simple, easy-to-implement practice will help you keep track of who has entered the event, avoid ticket confusion and will prevent those without a ticket (or with a ticket acquired illicitly) from accessing the event. This is also the best time to check bags and belongings for drugs and prohibited alcohol.
Additionally, wrist bands should be used so that delegates are able to leave and re-enter your event without having to go through security measures multiple times.
Compared to festivals and concerts, conferences and corporate events may not seem like the most likely types of event to require crowd control measures. That said, conferences especially may see large numbers of people gather in halls and exhibition spaces. Whenever lots of people are in the same place at the same time, it’s important to consider crowd control.
To minimise the chances of overcrowding, it’s important that you do not oversell your event and that you only sell as many tickets as your venue can safely accommodate.
Once your event begins, you should use barricades and stanchions to maintain order in areas where people may congregate. This includes your event opening, as well as any popular speakers or events that are taking place on the day.
Trained security staff will ensure everything remains orderly even when your event gets very busy. This includes monitoring crowd behaviour, intervening if things begin to get rowdy and removing any unruly guests.
It is critically important that you have in place well-thought-out evacuation and emergency measures. If a security incident occurs at your event, crowds may rush to leave the venue. A well-planned and properly implemented emergency and evacuation policy will help you keep control and ensure delegate safety in the event of a serious security incident.
Conferences and corporate events are not considered to be high-risk events. As such, they may not require the same level of emergency and first aid measures as, say, a sporting event or a concert.
However, illness can strike at any time. If someone does fall ill at your event, it’s your responsibility to ensure that they are properly looked after. The size of your conference or corporate event will determine how many first aiders you need to have. A general rule of thumb is that there should be one properly trained first aider for every 50 delegates.
Emergencies can develop rapidly. Your evacuation plan will enable you to move your delegates very quickly at short notice. Escape routes should always be clearly marked and remain unobstructed. Emergency lighting in your venue should comply with the requirements of British Standard BS 5244-1. This will allow delegates to see where they are going in the event of a power cut.
Your evacuation plan should make additional allowances for vulnerable people (such as those with physical or learning difficulties). This could take the form of special, allocated chaperones, or of trained security staff.
Before your event takes place, you should make it clear how you intend to communicate with guests in the event of an emergency. This could be via intercom, in person or, for large scale events, using SMS or social media.
Whether it’s a local rugby game or a premiership football final, the security measures you have in place should be robust and effective. Sporting events attract large numbers of fans who are likely to be excited and, occasionally, may act unpredictably.
At sporting events, fans may leave their possessions on their seats or in the stands. During intervals – when fans may leave to use the toilet or purchase snacks – these possessions can be an easy target for thieves. As such, it is wise to have security staff patrol public areas during any breaks in play.
Additionally, changing rooms may hold players’ possessions while they are playing. This means that changing rooms should be consistently monitored throughout the game.
Large crowds are likely to gather outside your venue as game time approaches. Guests will be in an excited state and may attempt to rush the doors when you open them. To keep guests safe, you should use security fences to control access. Security guards should be present to oversee this process.
Once inside guests should have their tickets inspected and, if required, bags searches should be conducted. Depending on the size of your sporting event, you may need to create multiple entrances to ensure safe entry and to give enough time for everyone to get inside.
Crowd control is important at sporting events – particularly when fans enter and leave the venue. So that everyone can enjoy the game in a safe way, the number of people entering the venue should be controlled – so that the often-narrow corridors and gaps between seats don’t become overcrowded.
Trained security staff should be on hand to direct people to their seats and to maintain order if things get unruly. This may involve removing antagonistic fans, reducing the flow of people when necessary and preventing moving crowds from coming to a standstill and creating a backlog.
To make sure that your guests remain safe throughout the game, you should have several first aid trained staff in attendance (one for every 50 guests). Such staff will be able to administer potentially lifesaving first aid to anyone who suffers a serious injury or medical issue.
Additionally, fresh water should be readily available to anyone who needs it and event staff should be aware of medical protocols (such as when to alert emergency services). If the event is taking place indoors, you should ensure that the venue has proper cooling systems in place.
If it becomes necessary to evacuate the venue, event staff should adhere to the venue’s evacuation procedures. Sporting venues should have clearly marked, unobscured and well-lit escape routes as well as a comprehensive evacuation plan. If a venue does not offer this, do not use it to host your sporting event.
When an evacuation takes place, guests should be told – either via a PA system announcement or directly by staff – to make their way calmly to the nearest emergency exit. Security and event staff should guide guests and maintain order. Disabled guests should be provided with additional assistance and, once everyone is safely outside, thorough checks of the premises should be undertaken.
Today, festivals are as much a part of the British summer as a trip to the seaside or a Saturday afternoon BBQ. As many as four million Brits head to a festival each year, and today there are festivals celebrating almost every aspect of human life – from music and literature, to scarecrows and toe-wrestling.
However, festivals usher in some unique security considerations. With so many people in one place – as well as alcohol and substance abuse more likely to take place than at other events – as a festival organiser it’s crucial that you put in place strict security measures. If you are organising a festival, you need to inform local emergency service providers and the local government.
Thieves will often target festivals. This is because unprotected, valuable items are often left unmonitored. As such, thieves stand to make a lot of money from a good festival haul. In order to prevent your guests from having their belongings taken, inform them not to leave anything valuable in their tents. It is a good idea to have event staff or professional security staff stationed around your campsite – undertaking regular patrols. Before your guests arrive, you should communicate the fact that you are not responsible for the loss of any personal belongings, and highlight some of the things they can do to ensure that they and their property remains safe.
More daring thieves may attempt to steal equipment – such as PA systems, monitors, musical instruments and mixing equipment. To prevent thieves from getting hold of expensive equipment, professional security staff should be positioned at all entrances and exists. Security personnel will be able to check the credentials of anyone moving in and out of your festival and will act as an effective visual deterrent against crime. Event security staff should also be stationed near equipment storage areas and stages to keep an eye on equipment.
Often outside and spread over a large area, festival perimeters can be especially difficult to control. To ensure that only paying guests and legitimate guests can access your festival, you should erect temporary fencing around the entirety of your festival. Fencing should be tall enough to eliminate the possibility of intruders being able to scale it and should be properly weighted to make moving it difficult. Additionally, mobile security patrols should conduct regular perimeter checks (including throughout the night).
At a logical point along your perimeter, you should construct one or more access points. These should be monitored by stationary guards and provide an ideal place to check tickets and allocate wristbands. Entrances and exits may get busy – especially at the beginning and end of your event. At such times, you may need to allocate more security personnel to these areas to ensure delegate safety and security.
Large crowds and festivals go hand in hand. Indeed, as a festival organiser, they’re probably exactly what you want to see. However, large crowds – especially unruly ones – can present numerous risks to guests and staff.
Effective crowd control at festivals requires carefully thinking about which parts of your festival are going to be busy at what times and ensuring that you have measures in place to keep crowds under control.
This will include having in place adequate numbers of highly-trained event security officers with a good understanding of operative crowd control – including how to remove dangerous guests, how to control dangerous activities and how to maintain and establish order in often chaotic situations.
In addition to trained security personnel, you will want to consider erecting crowd control fencing to separate sections of large crowds into smaller, more manageable groups – as well as to separate the crowd from performers or speakers.
Finally, it’s important that, when a crowd disperses, they can do so in a safe and orderly fashion. To maintain control over a large group of people on the move, fencing should be used to guide people’s movements and staff should be on hand to prevent rushing and overcrowding.
Festivals can be unpredictable places. Guests can be injured in lots of different ways – including trips, falls, intoxication, sun stroke and illness. As such, it’s important that you put in place measures to keep guests safe. Having trained first aiders on site is essential. The number of medically trained staff you have on site will vary depending on how many people are planning to attend your festival, what sort of festival it is and what events you are putting on.
Service providers such as St John Ambulance will be able to help you ascertain your needs as well as provide trained paramedics and other medical practitioners. Additionally, having first aid trained event staff on site is also essential – since, though not paramedics, such individuals will be able to provide potentially lifesaving care in circumstances where doing so is time-critical and essential.
Managing a large-scale evacuation requires careful planning and preparation. Before your event takes place, emergency escape procedures should be discussed with emergency services, event staff and security personnel. Clear roles should be allocated and procedures for different types of emergencies should be put in place.
Ultimately, as the event organiser, the decision whether to evacuate falls on you. If you decide that evacuation is necessary, you will give the evacuation signal – which will have been pre-decided and relayed to all event staff prior to the event. The decision to evacuate will be made repeatedly over your PA system, informing guests to calmly make their way to emergency exits. Emergency services will be informed, and security officers and designated event staff will direct guests to exits.
Security and event staff will render further assistance to anyone who requires it, and an immediate check of all areas in your festival will take place (this includes stages, marquees and toilets). Security officers should have the special responsibility of providing additional assistance to disabled guests.
Emergency routes and exits should be clearly marked and well-lit (especially at night). Event staff should cooperate fully with the emergency services and liaison points outside of the festival grounds should be decided.
One-off musical events and concerts present their own unique security considerations. Like festivals, concerts are environments in which guests are more likely than usual to engage in potentially dangerous activities. As such, your security measures should be robust and tailored to the event you are organising. This includes factoring how many people plan to attend and the nature and style of the artist performing.
Concerts present thieves with plenty of opportunities to swipe items that don’t belong to them. Whether they take advantage of overcrowding by picking pockets, or raiding a cloak room, some gig-goers are looking to leave a concert with more than some great memories. If your venue has a cloak room, ensure that it is manned for the entirety of the event. Event security guards should be positioned on the edges of the crowd and should keep an eye out for anybody acting suspiciously. If they see someone stealing, they will be able to either apprehend them or remove them from your premises – as well as return items to their rightful owner.
Thieves may also target equipment. As such, it is wise to position security officers at entrances and exits when equipment is being moved into and out of your venue. Additionally, if equipment is to be kept in the venue overnight, it should be stored in a locked room (preferably with CCTV coverage).
Large crowds are likely to gather outside your venue as opening time approaches. Guests will be excited to see the concert and may attempt to rush the doors when you open them. In order to keep access safe, you should create a designated queuing area using fencing. This will keep guests in a neat line, making admissions slower and safer.
Upon entry, guests should have their tickets stamped, be provided with a wristband or have their hand stamped, and have bags searched and water bottles and other potentially dangerous items removed. Depending on the size of your event, you may require multiple entry points so that everyone is able to make it inside in good time.
Ticket touts may congregate near your venue before the event starts. If you don’t want these people around, event security staff are able to disperse them in a legal and orderly manner. Street sellers require a license to operate, and most ticket touts do not possess one. As such, if stubborn touts refuse to vacate the area, you are entitled to call the police.
Gigs and concerts are synonymous with lots of people congregated in one place. As well as this, audience members are likely to be dancing and drinking. It is important that you keep things from getting out of hand and ensure no one gets hurt.
Crowd control at concerts requires multiple security guards to be placed around the edges of the crowd and between the crowd and the audience. Security personnel will be able to spot anyone acting in an unruly fashion and either calm them down or remove them from the premises.
It is also important to monitor the area around the bar, since this can become incredibly busy between performances. During gaps in the proceedings, some security staff should move from the floor to the bar area in order to ensure safety and security.
Gigs and concerts present audience members with a variety of potentially hazardous situations. Unfortunately, injuries and illness at concerts are not uncommon, and are usually the result of trips and falls, overheating, intoxication and even fights.
To make sure that your guests are properly protected, you need to have numerous first aid trained staff in attendance (one for every 50 guests). Such staff will be able to administer potentially lifesaving first aid if anyone encounters a serious injury or medical issue.
Additionally, fresh water should be readily available to anyone who needs it and event staff should be aware of medical protocols (such as when to alert emergency services). If your concert is taking place indoors during the summer months, you should ensure that the room can be adequately cooled.
In situations where evacuation of the premises becomes a necessity, event staff should adhere to your venue’s evacuation procedures. Venues will typically have clearly marked, unobscured and well-lit escape routes in place. If a venue you are looking at does not offer these, do not use it to host your concert.
If an evacuation does take place, guests should be informed via the PA system to make their way calmly to the nearest exit. Security and event staff should guide guests and maintain order. Disabled guests should be provided with additional assistance and, once everyone is safely outside, checks of the premises should be undertaken.
Churchill Security is an experienced event security provider. If you’re organising event, it’s crucial that you consider health & safety and security. Our highly-qualified event security staff can help you plan your event safely and will implement first-class security on the big day.