Protecting the public at popular Durham Lumiere light festival

Durham was bathed in light and transformed into an artistic wonderland as art biennial Lumiere returned to its birthplace once again this month. The festival brings together local and internationally renowned artists to create works that reimagine familiar buildings and public spaces, changing the way urban surroundings are experienced.

Hundreds of people are involved in producing the event and thousands more visit to admire the spectacular installations, which this year spread beyond the city to Bishop Auckland. To ensure that everyone could enjoy the event securely, festival organisers called upon Crowdguard to protect visitors with proportionate hostile vehicle mitigation, based on a threat, vulnerability and risk assessment.

This year’s Lumiere festival was the biggest yet, featuring more than 40 installations dotted throughout the city and beyond. Having provided counter terrorism protection for the event for a number of years, Crowdguard was delighted to be enlisted again to protect the 2023 event. Given the longstanding relationship, coupled with nationally increasing security tensions, Crowdguard’s Counter Terrorism & Risk Director, Russ Phillips, carried out a new threat vulnerability and risk assessment this year, as an added value service to ensure that the HVM specification was appropriate, proportionate and aligned to the event’s operational needs.

We specified the ATG Access Surface Guard system for three locations in Durham: Claypath, Leazes Road and North Road, enabling excellent pedestrian flow rates, while protecting visitors from vehicle attacks and incursions. The equipment was installed by Crowdguard’s trained and experienced technicians by 4pm on Thursday 16th November, ready for the start of the event, and removed as soon as the festivities were over at 10.30pm on Sunday 19th November. Vehicle access units were incorporated into the Surface Guard installation at all three locations to enable event organisers to reopen the roads to general traffic between the hours of midnight and 2pm on each day of the weekend, and to allow rapid access for emergency and authorised vehicles throughout the weekend.

Over in Bishop Auckland, the Crowdguard team assessed a number of locations to protect access routes to the main event location, specifying the Highway Care RB50 moveable HVM barrier system and the ARX Stopper!™. The two HVM systems in Bishop Auckland were installed concurrently with the Durham installation, to the same timetable, and the flexibility to enable normal vehicular and pedestrian access outside of event times was built into the specification.

At Newgate Street, trained Crowdguard deployment teams installed the ARX Stopper!™ to provide 30.8m of protection to a pedestrianised location in VADS configuration. Meanwhile at New Bondgate, Castle Chare and one other location, ARX Stopper!™ was installed in VADS configuration to provide protection for pedestrian access, while RB50 was used to enable immediate authorised vehicular access when required.

In each of these locations, stillages were provided to allow the removal of HVM equipment, which was stored securely on site between event times, and re-deployed quickly in time for crowds gathering.

The Lumiere event ran seamlessly, thanks to the collaborative efforts of our expert team and the event organisers.

Scott Dow, Head of Event Traffic Control at Lumiere commented: “Crowdguard understand the need to keep people safe while they attend the Lumiere event, whilst also building flexibility into the HVM installation do that all routes can operate as normal outside event times. The company has gone the extra mile this year by providing a threat, vulnerability and risk assessment, highlighting how proactive they are in ensuring the solution is proportionate and people are protected.”

Next year will mark the 15th instalment of Lumiere in Durham and we hope to return once again to ensure the city and its surroundings are safe and secure for the ever-popular occasion.


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