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An unruly crowd can be a dangerous place.

As such, it’s important that anyone organising a small-, medium- or large-scale event understands the basics of effective crowd control.

A crucial aspect of event security, understanding how and why crowds get out of control – as well as what you can do to prevent that from happening and how to restore order if it does – makes it much more likely that your event will go ahead without a hitch.

Whether it’s a festival or a concert, a busy corporate event or a wedding, if you’re organising an event, make sure you implement effective crowd control measures to ensure that your staff, guests and venue remain safe.


1 – Understand Your Attendees

What type of people are likely to attend your event?

A heavy metal concert will attract very different demographics than a poetry night. And the event security protocols you put in place should be adapted accordingly. When it comes to crowd control, the types of people you expect to attend – as well as the behaviour they’re likely to exhibit – should determine such things as:

• Whether and where you need to erect control barriers (around the entrance or the stage, for example).

• How many event security guards you require (we go into more detail about this in A Comprehensive Guide For Event Planners).

• Whether bag checks and contraband searches are required at access points.

• What type of evacuation procedures you need to implement.

• What sorts of behaviour security professionals are told to look out for (theft, drug use or violence, say).


2 – Control Access to Alcohol

Alcohol can turn a well-behaved crowd into a disorderly one. If alcohol is available at your event, it’s important that you control who’s able to access it and how much they’re allowed to have. In terms of medium- to large-scale events, a BYOB policy is never a good idea. Instead, limit the availability of alcohol to your venue’s bar or a properly licensed mobile alcoholic beverages provider. If alcohol is available at your event:

• Ensure bar staff never sell alcohol to underage attendees and that they ask for ID if they’re unsure of a guest’s age.

• Make it clear that bar staff are allowed to refuse the sale of alcohol to anyone they deem to be too drunk.

• Ensure event security guards are on the lookout for disruptive alcohol-induced behaviour and illicit alcohol consumption.

• Make sure bags are searched and that anyone carrying a bottle either throws it away or empties it before they are permitted entry.


3 – Minimise Access Points and Monitor Them Properly

Entrance and exit points funnel crowds into and out of your event. As such, they can become dangerous if too many people attempt to enter or exit simultaneously. To keep access points safe, it’s important that you position an adequate number of properly trained event security officers on every access point. Additionally, ensure that only official access points to your venue are open throughout the duration of your event. To keep entrance and exit points under control:

• Use security barriers to control the flow of people into and out of your event.

• Position an adequate number of event security guards on each access point.

• Use an event security services provider to create and implement effective evacuation plans.

Lock all additional entrances – such as staff and service doors – throughout the duration of your event.

• Allow people to enter your event up to two hours before it begins to prevent people rushing the doors.


4 – Organise Venue and Security Staff

Your team will operate at their best when each member is given a clear role and responsibilities. For example, if someone becomes aggressive or violent, it should be down to event security officers to remove that person – not the bar staff.  To get the most from your team, create a list of roles and responsibilities for each member of staff and communicate it to them prior to your event taking place. To help your team work effectively:

• Assign each member of staff a specific list of duties.

• Ensure staff are able to communicate with each other throughout the event (possibly by providing them with radios).

• Ensure that you have enough staff to safely run your event (to avoid being short-staffed, create a list of substitute staff before the big day).

Contact the venue’s management and include them (and their staff) in the process of planning the event.


5 – Encourage Attendees and Staff to Report Suspicious, Dangerous and Illegal Behaviour

Drug and illicit alcohol consumption, violence and even terrorism present threats to your attendees. Although highly trained show and event security officers are able to effectively monitor and control a crowd, there’s always a possibility that non-security staff and even other attendees may spot something dangerous or suspicious. It’s important that you encourage such people to report what they see so that appropriate action can be taken. To encourage staff to report suspicious and dangerous behaviour:

Put up posters informing attendees of who they should go to in order to report something they see (either security officers, the event manager or other staff).

Create a reporting process for staff and make them aware of it before your event takes place.

Highlight specific behaviours (such as drug abuse and underage and illicit alcohol consumption) that you want to encourage attendees and staff to report. Communicate these with staff prior to the event and to attendees using your posters.


Churchill Security is an experienced event security provider. If you’re organising event, it’s crucial that you consider how you’ll keep your attendees and staff safe. Our highly qualified event security staff can help you plan your event safely and will implement first-class security on the big day.

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John Melling is a Director for Churchill Security Ltd. John is a highly motivated, determined and decisive security industry professional. Drawing on his extensive experience gained within the security industry whilst working on the coalface John has operated at all levels within the industry. He has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.