Guest Blog Post by Dan Petrovic
Security planning is a crucial component of the event planning process, especially when the event involves a large number of people. Planning an event with no security has been tried before, and it often results in tragedy. The most famous example of an event that had a lack of security planning is the Altamont Free Concert of 1969.
The road manager of The Rolling Stones decided that the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club could handle keeping the crowd safe and away from the stage. The result was a violent night filled with extensive property damage, dozens of injuries, three accidental deaths, and one stabbing. Event security is certainly not something that can be made up on the fly and it requires careful planning.
Security planning takes careful consideration that depends on what kind of event is being planned, the layout of the facilities, and how many people are expected to attend. If the event is simply overwhelmed with security staff, this could negatively affect the image of the event, or inconvenience the people attending the event. By identifying potential threats, security can be focused on the areas that will most likely require their attention.
One way to do this is by creating a risk assessment matrix. A matrix can be created by looking at a past history of events and considering how likely incidents are going to happen again. For example, previous concerts might have had problems with audience members trying to rush the stage, so the stage area should be identified as a high risk area in the matrix.
If the parking area for an event is in a well-lit area with enough space for the free flow of traffic, that could be considered a low risk area. Planers should also try to picture the people that would benefit from the failure or disruption of the event, and how they might try to accomplish it.
Making the Plan
Once all threats are assessed, the next step is planning what staff and materials are needed to address each identified threat or risk. There are several components that should be considered in such a security plan.
The first component is deterrence, factors that would deter someone that would want to disrupt an event. Some components of deterrence could include lights and security cameras. If the deterrence is not enough, the next component is prevention, or how effectively an item or person would be when intercepting a security disruption.
Special barricades are made to handle crowds and these are more effective at keeping people in a designated area than simple caution tape. Another component to consider in a security plan is incident preparedness. Good incident preparedness includes having a clear evacuation plan if there is a fire or bomb threat, and having ambulances on stand-by in the case of a medical emergency.
Hiring the Right People
All good plans are worth nothing if they are not implemented by quality security staff. Some events might be secure enough with onsite security that’s already available; other events require hiring a professional security company.
Security personnel should also have experience working with similar types of events. Local emergency responders will be able to identify practical threats based on their experience and include strategies to deal with such threats in a security plan. Each staff member assigned to a certain duty should not just know what to do in their assigned area, but also the emergency incident plans.
All members of staff also need to be able to communicate with other members in case of a large scale incident. Since a good security plan will identify vulnerabilities, staff should be kept somewhat on a need-to-know basis regarding other specific plans.
In summary, the first step in implementing a security plan is to know the risks. Once that is done, the person in charge of event security needs to know how to address each risk and create a compressive security plan.
Make sure to hire well trained staff that knows the plan and can communicate effectively. With such a plan, even the most complex event will pass without any incidents.
Dan Petrovic is a marketing and security specialist from Australia. He writes articles on marketing and security for several blogs in his free time. He is currently working for Custom Lanyards as a consultant.