Guest blog by Duncan Robertson, Head of Events at Venture Security
For any stadium or sports ground, the safety and security of both visitors and staff will be the single most important factor on game day. And the larger the venue, the more complex the security requirement will be. In the current climate, the inherent risks associated with any form of organised mass gathering, present a complex and multi-faceted challenge.
Sports ground security planning, in its most simple form, is about assessing potential risk and taking all steps necessary to remove or mitigate them. Individual risks will vary between different venues and the culture of the sporting event itself – for example, being influenced by the geographical location of the venue, the profile of attendees and the event, and also how long visitors are spending on site. A large number of stadia are also now making the most of their space to host different types of events, such as arena music concerts, which bring a whole host of other concerns.
To provide a seamless and professional experience takes comprehensive planning and above all, a collaborative approach between all stakeholders – from the emergency services, to your security provider, cleaning to parking, all must be involved and on board.
The role a good security team needs to fulfil is broad. It is not simply about being there to deal with the array of potential incidents, but also:
- Supporting the smooth ingress, circulation and egress of visitors
- Providing a visual deterrent
- Informing and helping visitors when required
- Providing asset protection
All these things coming together to provide a hard target mentality for any would-be criminal and enhancing the customer experience for all attendees. Above all, ensuring they have a safe, secure and enjoyable visit.
Key security challenges
Here are a number of general examples of the types of security challenges that different sporting venues are commonly faced with:
- Planning for spectator movement to and from the site (also known as ‘the last mile’)
- Ensuring crowd safety and management
- Capacity management and prevention of overcrowding
- Alcohol and the inherent risks that come from consumption
- Violence against staff, something which is unfortunately on the rise
- Compliance with ground/course regulations
- Away fans and the potential for disorder
- The safety and protection of VIP’s attending
- Planning for events bringing very different audience profiles, such as music
- Managing the circulation of attendees
- The potential for organised crime especially at larger fixtures and music events held at stadia
Importance of planning and contingency
While it is near on impossible to prevent problems from ever occurring, having a comprehensive plan in place, can make a substantial difference – both to the likelihood of there being an issue, and the potential outcome were a problem to arise.
At Venture Security, we’ve been working with sporting venues and events teams for more than a decade – from racecourses to cycling events and football stadia.
While every venue requires its own bespoke security plan, there are some core elements that remain crucial, no matter what the assignment may be. Assessment, critical evaluation and re-evaluation are vital at every level.
7 steps for successful security planning for sporting venues
Strong team work and positive collaboration
The larger the sporting venue, the greater the size of the team who are likely to be involved in the planning and operational aspects of the security detail. It is therefore vital that all teams work together and understand the role they are each to play, in providing a smooth and professional event.
Within the security team there also needs to be strong team work, which is why it’s so important to work with an experienced and highly organised provider, with a good track record in managing these types of assignments.
Key to success is strong communication at all times. Even the best laid plans can fail due to weak communication. Teams need to be reporting, feeding back and having a constant dialogue to ensure everyone is on the same page and up to speed. This element is needed at every stage of planning and operations – from pre-event, through match or show day to post-event, from stakeholder communication to good radio etiquette on the ground, strong communication is fundamental.
Doing the sums
Security and crowd management planning involves mathematics and a significant amount of it. Rates of entry, crowd densities/ flows and capacities are just a few examples. Shared areas like vomitories or bar areas need to be looked at carefully, especially during potentially busy periods like half time, or in extreme weather, to ensure circulation is safe. These are important technical workings including physical area, layout, furniture and the number and size of exits, so it calls for the skills of a specialist consultant.
Being up to date
The imminent arrival of the sixth edition of the Green Guide it is an example of why security teams need to be up to date on the latest legislation, as well as suitable technologies. A vital but often overlooked practice is monitoring intelligence on trends, amongst the general public or certain profiles and how it can impact the crowd, their behaviour and safety.
Regular access to up to date training at all levels, covering the various aspects of the industry – from counter terrorism to physical intervention – is important for ensuring the latest methods of best practice are being followed.
Having a contingency plan
We can’t stress enough the importance of contingency planning, as well as the ability to adapt to differing situations. Without proper contingency planning (and ensure you ask your security provider what their plans are) you are at serious risk. From staff not turning up to handling a major incident, you need a plan!
Learning from past experiences
Debriefs after every fixture and a wash up at the end of season make for crucial learning materials. Findings then need to be analysed and cascaded to all levels.
This should be done as soon as possible after the event, when memories, observations and insights will be most accurate. Record and document feedback, and form actions. By following this process of continual improvement and enhancement, you will ensure that your venue continues to offer a premium service.
Overall, there needs to be trust. Any security provider you work with needs to deliver on their promises – in respect of both the service they provide on the day, but also their reporting and communications processes.
They need to be consistent and they need to be reliable. You should value their advice and experience, and find they are approachable, proactive and organised in supporting you.
You should always be able to trust that the number of stewards and operatives you have been promised are there, trained and where necessary licensed, as well as briefed and prepared for any occurrence. You need to be able to trust that should an issue arise, the operatives in any one area will be able to deal with it quickly and professionally.
If you don’t feel this about your current provider, then it’s time to assess your options.
About Venture Security
Venture Security, based in Andover, provides specialist security services to sports and entertainment venues, corporate, and residential customers based across central, southern England. The company is ranked within the top 2% of UK security providers. The team has supported customers, including Salisbury Race Course, Southampton Football Club and the OVO cycling Tour Series. For more information, visit www.venturesec.co.uk or call 01264 391538.