We will have all seen at some time in our lives security or people that we believe are security in hi-vis uniforms, at events such as private parties, festivals, football matches, conferences, and concerts. Event security can cover a broad spectrum of requirements. You must have the correct security personnel in place for your particular event.
For many events and venues the security will assist with managing Health and Safety and First Aid, often being strategically positioned makes the security operatives ideal candidates to monitor for such issues and incidents such as slips, trips and falls, venue capacity, and assisting with basic First Aid requirements, as well as venue evacuation procedures.
Most commonly and generally speaking, event security guards are hired to maintain access control of an event. Being the first line of defence, receiving guests and ensuring that only invited guests can access the event or venue. From there, we can then add vital positions that have to be covered, such as fire exits, for example, assisting with the evacuation of guests and attendees in case of an emergency, or covering specific areas that are out of bounds to the guests attendees.
It may also be necessary for attendees to be searched as part of the venue’s entry requirements or event. Event security operatives vitally play out this role.
Let us start at the main entrance of your planned event. Security guards are commonplace at the entrance of shops, pubs, clubs, concerts, and private events checking ID, tickets, and invitations. But their role is much more important than that.
Staff that are checking tickets or taking an entrance fee do not need to be licensed security operatives. Still, we generally see licensed security operatives maintaining access control. This acts as a visible deterrent to any would-be gate crashers. Licensed operatives can then double up to assist with possible emergency incidents or evacuations from the venue.
This licensable role is classed as a ‘Front line’ role. The security operative must hold a front-line SIA licence. This position can be covered by a front-line security operative holding a ‘Security Guarding’ licence. But if the venue is a licensed venue under the licensing act 2003, this position is to be covered by an operative in possession of at least a ‘Door supervisor’ licence which again is a front-line licence but is required for security at venues that supply alcohol and entertainment.
The training for door supervisors includes conflict management skills that aid the operative when dealing with conflicts or disorder within a venue, and search procedures that may be a condition of entry into a venue. The ‘Security Guarding’ licence does not legally permit the operative to carry out this role within a licensable venue or event.
You may also consider using stewards for large scale events; stewards are a non-licensable role. Many companies who supply event stewards would usually assign them for customer care, directing guests to their seats or the toilets, etc. They are also used to provide safety guidance ensuring that fire exits, and gangways are kept clear and again assist with directing guests during emergency evacuations.
You should hire stewards that have undergone previous training based around crowd control such as NVQ level 2 spectator control qualification and possibly fire Marshall training. Even more desirable is a steward that has also gained the counter-terrorism training provided by The National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO), Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) or the previous counter-terrorism initiative known as Project Griffin.
Counter-terrorism now plays a huge part in event planning. It will go hand in hand with crowd control and evacuation procedures for large scale events often calling upon the Police, Health and Safety advisors, and specialist large event organisers that have proven knowledge and experience in large crowd safety and management techniques.
It is at smaller events where you are less likely to see stewards and more likely to see security operatives that hold a ‘Door supervisor’ licence, working dual roles such as access control, searching, removal of unwanted or unruly guests, and directing guests in the case of an emergency evacuation or covering fire exits. The practice of using ‘door supervisors’ for multiple roles must be proactively managed and communicated by a security supervisor or team leader to avoid confusion on the part of individual roles and responsibilities.
Large outdoor events such as concerts and festivals may require additional external security and patrols. This role could equally be carried out by security operatives licensed under security guarding and door supervision. It may also include K9 security dog patrols and additional CCTV measures.
CCTV monitoring falls under a separate licensable activity, any public CCTV operator be it temporary or permanent must only be conducted by an SIA CCTV licensed operative. CCTV will most likely be monitored from a designated control room that has direct communication with event management or commanders, relaying relevant information regarding access control, crowd management, i.e., locations where crowds may be gathering because of a bottleneck or narrow entrance, relaying this type of message will enable the event security guards or stewards to disperse any crowded pinch points reducing the risk of Health and Safety incidents.
Many venues will also have their own CCTV control room with designated in-house CCTV operators, it would be beneficial to create a solid working relationship between your security provider and the venue CCTV room/security team to establish a safe and incident-free event. The in-house security team may not be SIA licensed or trained (they do not have to be). They may not be at the same standard as your event security provider.
Communication is crucial for all events large and small. A clear line of communication between event organisers, security operatives, stewards, management, First Aiders, and any possible CCTV control rooms is vital.
Tried and tested two-way radios should be used either digital or analogue. The choice of radio would be down to budgets, availability, and coverage. You should test radios to ensure there are no black spots (dead spots with no communication link) within a venue. Should any black spots be found consider changing frequencies or adding radiofrequency boosters to cover those areas.
Pre-event familiarisation of radio equipment should be covered ensuring that all operatives are competent at using the radios. It is shocking how many security operatives or stewards say that they can use a two-way radio but do not call in an incident because they were too embarrassed to admit that they cannot use the radio, or did not know what to say as they do not know radio voice procedures. “Roger, out!”
Large events and venues need to have a control room or ‘ops’ room (operations). The control room allows event management, security, health and safety, and event planners to oversee the event’s effective running. Having a designated control room allows for clear communication regarding the dispersal of security, First Aiders, Stewards, or Fire Marshalls to attend to any possible incidents that may arise. From the control room, operatives can keep accurate records of any incidents. The control room would also be used as the designated and immediate response for calling additional emergency services if required.
Many larger events will also have their own medical practitioners such as paramedics onsite and in some cases their own private treatment room and even ambulances on standby where medical treatment can be administered. Although many security operatives and event staff will have received some basic First Aid training it is still prudent to assign or employ someone with more advanced First Aid qualifications and equipment.
It is prudent during any event to have ‘roaming’ or patrolling security operatives and First Aiders. It would be more beneficial to have a security operative who is also First Aid trained to be patrolling your event space. Still, you must consider the scenario where the security operative assists with one situation that is not a medical incident, then another incident arises that is a medical emergency.
Patrols of your event can include the exterior and interior of the event venue thus ensuring access control is maintained and emergency exits are not blocked, plus providing a visual deterrent and peace of mind to guests. Of course, the staffing levels will be budget dependant, but some roles cannot be dual roles.
This also applies to any search procedures you may have in place; a male cannot search a female and vice versa so female security operatives are an essential asset. It has also been proven that female security operatives often have a better ability to de-escalate a potentially violent situation between males than male security operatives. Female security operatives should also be used to search or randomly check the female toilets throughout the event, looking for potential medical emergencies or illegal drug abuse.
Close protection operatives (CPOs) may also be used for event security, especially when VIP guests are expected or a celebrity performing on a stage. Close protection operatives are the SIA licensed security operatives permitted to work guarding individuals (personal protection) against assault or injuries, more commonly known as bodyguards.
Again, due diligence should prevail. You should ensure that any close protection services company you hire can prove that their CPOs are licensed by the SIA and have prior experience working with VIPs, plus they are adequately insured to perform such duties. The CPO’s training is hugely different from that of a door supervisor, they should be skilled and knowledgeable at protecting people in an event or any environment.
The bodyguard or bodyguards should be briefed on your event protocols regarding emergencies so that they are aware of the emergency procedures regarding the VIP and the event itself. The bodyguard(s) should then be used to escort your VIP performers on and off stage and remain close by during the performance.
CPOs may also be used in such roles as covering the stage, backstage, the green room, or any other VIP areas closed off to the public and/or any other general guests.
It is possible to use door supervisors to cover the static positions of the stage and VIP areas. Still, many clients prefer to use CPOs (a.k.a. bodyguards) as they will usually have better etiquette and more experience working with VIPs on a more regular basis. Thus, offering a more professional VIP service. Naturally, bodyguards cost more than standard event security guards or door supervisors.
Considerations should be made regarding visiting close protection teams assigned or travelling with VIP guests or performers. A professional CPO will attempt to contact any event organiser and/or the security provider at an event where their principal (protectee) is expected to attend. The CPO should be looking to introduce themselves to the event organiser and event security provider so that they or their principal are not delayed or hindered on arrival at the event.
Operatives should acquire information as to the route into the venue, where will their principal be seated? where will they be performing and what are the event emergency procedures? Within the close protection sector, this is known as venue recce’ (reconnaissance) and can be carried out by other members of a close protection team called the SAP (security advance party). Their role is to understand exactly where, when, and how their principal will attend a venue and the venue procedures concerning security and emergencies. This pre-planning is vital in ensuring a seamless arrival and departure of the VIP and CP teams attending an event.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case as some CPOs have little or no understanding of how important a recce’ and pre-introduction is and how detrimental it can be by just turning up unannounced with a VIP in tow, only to be told that their VIP did not request that their bodyguard or close protection team was added to the guest list.
Ignorance is not always bliss especially within the close protection industry.
Even after your event has finished there are still many duties that the security team should be carrying out.
Asking your guests to depart in a timely fashion is common practice at events and usually carried out by the security operatives, ensuring that your guests depart the event via the designated routes and exits.
Once confirmation has been received that all guests have departed the event the security should then search the event space or venue for any guests that may still be loitering, then assist and direct them safely to an exit. Searching the event space for any personal items that may have been left behind or dropped and for more sinister suspect packages that may have been hidden.
Once the venue has been cleared of all guests and lost property collected and/or accounted for, a full debrief should be given by the security manager and possibly the event organiser.
A headcount of all security personal should be conducted to ensure that all security personnel are present and accounted for. The ops’ room should follow up on any missing details from any reported incidents before finally releasing or standing down any security team members no longer required. Perimeter security is often kept in place for the de-rigging of equipment and removal of merchandise from the venue.
Following larger events, a further debrief is often held a few days after the event has finished. This is the opportunity to air or highlight any concerns or incidents that may have occurred during the event. Organisers and security companies can learn many valuable lessons by assessing previous events and possible mistakes or incidents.
Westminster Security provides event security services in London and throughout the UK.