Implementing Robust Crowd Control in Public Venues

Any situation that encourages a large volume of people to gather inside a single venue requires a thoroughly considered security plan to ensure the safety of people and property. The tragic stampede in Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, Indonesia has thrust discussions of security surrounding public venues back into the spotlight. Although this horrifying event is still being unpicked, what is clear is the proactive protective measures and venue protocols were not robust enough to keep the fans safe as the level of unrest accelerated.

It is obvious from events like Kanjuruhan Stadium, as well as the Olembé Stadium in Cameroon where eight people lost their lives during the Africa Cup of Nations and a near miss in May at the Champions League final in Paris, plus tragedies in past years, that football stadiums are particularly challenging to protect effectively, especially when filled with passionate fans.

Bringing it home

Looking closer to home, in 2021, the British government launched a Protect Duty public consultation from February to July where it was found that the “majority of respondents support tougher security measures” to improve security in public spaces, protecting and enhancing the safety of both visitors and staff. The Protect Duty builds on ‘Martyn’s Law’, legislation campaigned for by the mother of one of the victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena attack.

The consultation considers ways of developing proportionate security measures in locations that are accessible to the public. The aim is to make it a legal requirement for venue operators to assess and mitigate security risks, taking steps to protect the public, as currently there is no legal requirement to do so. Football stadiums fall into this category as they can accommodate a capacity of over 100 people, with a minimum of 250 staff.

Sadly, it isn’t realistic or possible to predict or completely eradicate the chance of security breaches in public venues, therefore it’s essential that these venues prepare themselves to take appropriate action when needed. This consultation provides a security framework to help venues by considering the adequacy of adopted security measures, systems and processes. This significant shift in regulation demonstrates the UK’s new approach and commitment to improving security and public protection. The new legislation will help guide venue owners and companies to start taking appropriate steps to mitigate security risks.

Which sites and venues does this impact?

The new legislation will apply to every space or facility that the general public can access. This means every public space will have a responsibility to implement measures to protect from attack. Within this the public spaces are broken down into three main categories:

1. Public spaces including parks, beaches and thoroughfares.
2. Public venues with a capacity of over 100 people, for example, entertainment venues, tourist attractions and shopping centres.
3. Large organisations like retail or entertainment chains with a minimum staff size of 250.

Of the three categories, public spaces are much harder to safeguard effectively. Establishing accountability for safety in such areas and considering reasonable expectations and the potential role of legislation on these issues are necessary. Any openly accessible area can become a target because it is impossible to predict or stop all terrorist acts. Therefore, individuals in charge of the places should have a plan and always be prepared to act in an appropriate manner at any time. By evaluating the sufficiency of chosen security measures, systems and processes, a robust security framework needs to be established to assist venues in becoming ready.

Having your wits about you

The consultation document includes a list of recommendations for venues:

• Be alert to suspicious behaviours, engage the person in a welcoming and helpful manner or report them to the police
• Be alert to abandoned bags
• Be security-minded, especially online. Avoid providing specific information that could aid a terrorist, for example, floor plans with security details
• Encourage and enable a security culture
• Complete and provide ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) Awareness e-learning
• Have a clear action plan. How would you respond to an incident inside or outside your site?
• Periodically review and refresh the risk assessment
• Proactive prep work

The framework includes three key points that football stadiums and other public venues should adhere to:

Carrying out a full risk assessment: To give an understanding of the potential motivations for attacks on the venue in question. This includes assessing where the target points may be, how they might attack and how these motivations and methodologies might shift or evolve.

A systematic approach to security: This involves considering security as a combination of physical and behavioural interventions. Erecting physical measures such as fences, bollards, CCTV and blast-resistant glazing will add a firm layer of protection, but it’s essential to develop and nurture a security-minded culture throughout the site or venue. This means encouraging vigilance and providing detailed training for all staff.

Correct installation: Check your system works seamlessly alongside other safety measures, such as health and safety and fire regulations. To do this, organisations are encouraged to use information and guidance provided by the government via the police services to check their specifications comply.

This guidance is designed to help highlight the potential impact of risks. These will vary depending on the specific functions or qualities of the individual site and the security systems that they have in place. Venues should also consider a ‘reasonably practicable’ organisational preparedness system. While not all employees will be dedicated security staff, it is beneficial to providing training and share planning throughout the organisation, so everyone knows how to react quickly in the event of an emergency.

UK Government support explained

As it stands, the government is dedicated to providing advice to help sites and venues to understand different threats and attack methods and provide practical preparedness measures including how to stay vigilant and plan for incidents. This will be conducted via sectoral and regional engagement days, with updates and revisions to training and e-learning programmes. An app devoted to ACT was launched in March 2020 and the government authorities Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) also provide advice.

Budget limitations and time constraints will undoubtably affect organisations, especially smaller scale sites and venues. Compliance is one of the key problems this consultation is attempting to address to make it accessible for all. At present recommendations include employee training, recurring risk assessments and preparedness activities.

Striking the right balance

The tragedies at public venues over the past year alone reaffirm the very real need for sites to assess their security solutions to ensure they’re robust enough to keep visitors and staff safe. While it took a tragic incident to get to this point in time, there is a renewed interest in integrated security in public spaces. With the Fifa World Cup in Qatar about to kick off, and security concerns within this event being of international importance, now has never been a better time to source external professional advice in keeping your events and venues secure.

Priavo understands the importance that security plays in a successful event, and covers all facets of event security. Technical and physical security measures, meticulous planning, skilful execution and discretion ensure your guest’s experiences are not impeded by a security presence. We manage everything from risk assessments, close protection, media access and crowd control to perimeter security, contingency and emergency planning.

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