Event Security Planning

Event Security Planning

Every event, small or large, should start with an initial plan. Someone somewhere will be putting together ideas on how any given event will look and proceed as per a client’s requests and expectations. They will consider the event’s theme, the location, budget, expected number of attendees. Safety and security should be integral to this plan and remain a top priority throughout.

Usually, after the essential specifics of an event are finalised, security requirements are discussed. However, this is not always the case. Some smaller events or venues may attempt to hold events without security. Missing or inadequate event security often leads to access control or Health & Safety issues, or breaches of licensing regulations. And, of course, security incidents like theft, crowd control issues, and gate crashing. Ultimately, there is a risk of injuries or even fatalities. So, event planners should consider security requirements at an early stage. All too often, security is overlooked and left until the last minute.

Roles and Responsibilities

The event security plan should define roles and responsibilities. The plan should identify who is in overall control and responsibility for each element of the event and up-to-date contact information. As well as identifying the types of security required, the plan should document how much security role is needed.

Compliance & Competency

The event security plan should also detail the competency, qualifications, licensing and training required of staff taking identified roles. Also, the plan must document how to monitor compliance and who is responsible for vetting and monitoring.

Gauging and Mitigating Risk for Events

Risks should be documented along with systems and procedures to manage these risks. In the past, it may have been sufficient only to consider minor crimes and troublesome guests when planning most events. Unfortunately, threats today can come from terrorists, radicalised lone actors or random armed violence. Even smaller events and low-profile venues need to consider these eventualities.

Large-scale attacks

Large-scale attacks by terrorists or misguided individuals are increasingly common. Anywhere where big crowds gather can present an easy soft target. Give consideration to:

  • whether or not guests should have bags checked for potential weapons by trained personnel?
  • what items will not be allowed into the event:
  • is searching going to be required and, if so, who will perform the searches?
  • are body scanners going to be used, and by whom?
  • how many staff are needed to monitor attendees for suspicious behaviour and what training do these operatives require?
  • how far away from the entrances to the venue needs to be under surveillance?
  • do you need to weigh risks by completing a crime analysis of the area where the event is being held?

Venue

The first question to ask is whether or not the venue is suitable for the event? In determining this, you may need to ask a wide range of additional questions:

  • is the venue location acceptable?
  • can the venue be secured?
  • are there enough escape routes for VIPs in case of an incident?
  • are there are enough toilets to limit queues?
  • are there sufficient evenly spread service points for refreshments to stop people overcrowding in small areas?
  • would it be possible to safely evacuate if needed?

Outdoor events need to establish perimeters. It may be necessary to construct fencing or use barricades. Consider whether or not the boundaries are manned, at what points, and how many staff to minimise “porosity,” i.e. access through unauthorised entry points.

Similarly, indoor events should give particular attention to back doors that staff can open or windows that open from the outside.

Document the venue capacity limit and plan to measure attendee numbers and prevent the venue from going over capacity.

  • The plan should also describe other elements of physical security:
  • How to manage exits to prevent blocking?
  • How to manage entrance queues?
  • How to prevent guests from straying into staff-only or VIP areas?

The venue location in itself could present a risk if it is inaccessible to emergency services. If this is the case, then describe mitigation.

These days, cybercriminals can hack anything connected to the Internet and leverage it to attack physical safety. For example, how will you prevent hackers from breaching venue systems and overriding electronic gates or door locks? What if alarm or communication systems are compromised?

Attendees

A high profile or controversial guest may be a target for protestors, other disruption or attacks. Consider how best to mitigate this. Is it possible and practical to vet every attendee? Can you stop bulk ticket purchases that could be seeking to mask the identities of potential disruptors?

All things being equal, the larger the number of attendees, then the greater the risk. Mitigation requires even more planning and extensive coordination and communication.

Personnel

It is well known that employees are the weakest link in information security. Employees and other personnel are may also be the most significant risk to venue security. Security is everyone’s responsibility. The event security plan should allow for all staff involved in the event to receive security awareness training. 

Gathering & Communicating Information

An event security plan should coordinate all of the Health, safety and security information. The plan communicates this information with all stakeholders, e.g. the client organiser, venue staff, third party staff and contractors and perhaps local government enforcement and emergency services. It is also essential to keep records that all concerned have read and understood the plan.

Larger events need to plan for pre-event meetings with event security suppliers and Health & Safety representatives. These meetings ensure that all security and Health & Safety aspects are covered. Security companies and Health & Safety companies often work very closely together. The event security guards are often ideally positioned within and around venues to maintain Health & Safety and licence regulations.

Communication During the Event

The plan needs to document the type of communication equipment required, responsibility for providing and testing the equipment. Do you need to consider the interoperability of communication systems used by different parties?

Procedure Reviews & Monitoring

Like most plans, event security plans are likely to change right up to the last minute. So, a robust program should allow for this and schedule time for reviews and checks. For a minor event, this could mean completing a simple checklist. For a more significant event, consider a formal meeting of representatives of all concerned parties.

Completing the Event Security Plan

Different events will require planning for additional elements. Emphasis on various aspects will vary. However, at a minimum, an event security plan for a more significant event should always answer the following questions:

Overview

  • What is the background to the event?
  • What is the purpose of the event?
  • How is the event structured?
  • What type of attendees are expected?
  • How many of each type of attendee is expected?

Site Details

  • Who are the venue contacts, and what are their contact details?
  • Can you provide site plans identifying access and exit requirements for general or emergency use?

Health and Safety

  • Has a risk assessment and mitigation plan been completed and a copy appended?
  • Has any additional fire risk been considered?
  • Is fire suppression equipment sufficient?
  • How can medical and first aid facilities and personnel be contacted in an emergency?
  • How are staff going to be made aware of medical and first aid processes?

Infrastructure

  • Are temporary structures described in detail?
  • Are all contractors listed in detail with contact information and responsibilities?
  • Are backup communications such as radios in place?
  • Have checks been made that the utilities such as electrical systems can meet the anticipated demand?
  • Are the required safety protocols in place for dealing with utilities?
  • Can utilities be secured and, if not, should they be guarded?
  • Are backups to power or ventilation required?
  • How are food hygiene standards being managed?
  • Have additional risks such as fire from catering been considered?

Waste Management

  • Has waste management been considered in detail – including rubbish collection, recycling and disposal?
  • How is wastewater being handled?
  • Are arrangements in place for sufficient toilet facilities?

Crowd Management

  • Have anticipated numbers been accurately estimated?
  • Is there a crowd management plan to deal with the movement of at least this number of people?
  • Have details of physical measures for crowd management, such as temporary barriers, been specified?
  • Is a pre-screened guest list needed?
  • Are ID badges going to be used?

Stewarding

  • Has a detailed staffing plan including procedures and placements been completed?
  • Who is responsible for ensuring staff are aware of contingency and emergency plans?

Traffic management

  • Have plans been made for managing traffic to, from and within the event?
  • Are additional measures such as barriers, blockades or fencing required?
  • How will emergency vehicles quickly access the site if needed?
  • Do vehicles need to be pre-registered and identified?
  • Are designated parking areas needed for VIPs, staff and the general public?

Emergency Action Plan (EAP)

  • Does the EAP detail evacuation routes, location of assembly points and how to communicate with each other and emergency services?
  • Have different ways to mass evacuate the event been devised?
  • Do you know how you will direct guests during an emergency?
  • Have you prepared signage and notifications for guests regarding how to respond?
  • Is there an assembly point affording the media access to telephone lines, electricity and toilet facilities?

Major Incident Plan

  • Have the major incident planning requirements of emergency services and local authorities been met?
  • Who is responsible, and what are the processes in the event of an emergency?
  • Have contingency plans been prepared and shared with concerned parties?

One Page

Have you produced a one page summary of all of the most critical points on the event security plan?

Summary

Remember that the event plan is a living document to improve your chances of delivering a safe and secure event. Planning is not a backside covering chore to produce a document that will gather dust in a drawer! 

The plan needs to work and should be reviewed and signed off by all relevant authorities. It may also be necessary to refer to the local authority governing the event’s location and the UK Health and Safety Executive.


Event Security Services

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