An engaging fireside chat at the Event Production Show.

When you refer to a ‘fireside chat’, it conjures up an image of a cosy tête-à-tête over a glass of wine at a country pub. But my recent fireside chat with Joe Pidgeon, director of special events at event company, AGMP, couldn’t be further from that scenario. A dynamic and fast-paced conversation about the changing threats to event security and the hotly anticipated compliance requirements that will soon affect the sector, it was an engaging talk that had members of the audience at the Event Production Show totally absorbed.

I was privileged to be part of the event and to be given responsibility for tapping into Joe’s knowledge and experience for the benefit of delegates. Event security is a topic of significant interest to both us; Joe as an events professional with responsibility for keeping people safe, and me as a hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM) and perimeter security provider, trusted to respond to the event industry’s needs.

I started by asking Joe whether he thinks there is more risk for event goers and event organisers these days, or if we are we just more aware of the potential risks. He agreed that both event organisers and the public are more aware of the risks these days, due to incidents that have happened over the past few years, notably the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017. However, he pointed out that, while we must be careful not to scare people or over emphasise the dangers, there is still a need to be clear about identifying those dangers and put measures in place to reduce risk. He explained that risk factors are constantly evolving, and it’s up to event organisers to understand where events or venues may be vulnerable to attacks or security risks and put measures in place to keep people safer.

When I asked Joe how the events industry can help keep people safer, he explained that there are two vital aspects to safety and security for the events industry – we must ensure that we reduce safety risk and also that event goers feel safer. It’s an interesting distinction and one that resonates very strongly with me as a professional working in HVM and perimeter protection supply and installation. Our surface-mounted event security systems are very visible indicators that security risk has been considered and acted upon. What that means for event organisers is that the installation acts as both a deterrent for would-be attackers and a reassurance for event goers.

But, as Joe pointed out during our fireside talk, event protection is not just about the visible security measures put in place by larger venues and bigger events; it is the responsibility of every venue and every event organiser.

We discussed the role of UK Protect Duty, also known as Martyn’s Law, after Martyn Hett who was killed during the Manchester Arena terror attack. Proposals for the legislation include a focus on risk assessment and staff training, along with physical safety systems to protect people from terror attacks and other security threats. Although the draft bill has not yet been published, it seems likely from the public consultation that the mandatory requirements to implement these measures will be based on the size of the venue or event. However, Joe pointed out that every venue and event organiser – no matter their size – has a duty of care to implement any new guidance provided by the Protect Duty as closely as possible, in order to achieve those twin goals of keeping people safer and helping them feel safer.

The conversation was certainly food for thought and showed a clear focus from the events industry on considering security matters as an integral part of event planning. As we continue to await the draft UK Protect Duty bill, it’s clear that the events industry is already getting ready to respond.

Article written by Crowdguard Operations Director, Deborah Ainscough