Event security is a unique sector of the industry with a myriad of challenges.
With a national shortage of available licensed security officers, finding large numbers of qualified personnel at short notice, for short-term assignments, is an act of wizardry.
Thankfully, there is a hard-core, dedicated, cohort of security officers, that love this sector and return year after year to the major festivals and events. Unfortunately, this experienced pool of officers will never be enough to meet demand, and recruitment will always be difficult. This puts serious pressure on contract managers, and supervisors, to train and monitor the performance of new recruits, as there are few roles within the security industry where protection of the public is so important.
Who do you need?
Event security is fundamentally about the safety of the public. Early identification of a problem, and clear and accurate communication, regarding any issue, are vitally important. Your recruits need to be observant, have good communication skills, and have well-developed situational awareness. Keeping a cool head when things don’t go as planned, is also highly desirable. If your officers can tick these basic boxes, you are most of the way to forming a successful team.
Don’t cut corners when vetting.
Due to the fact that this sector of the industry always requires personnel in a hurry, some companies are somewhat lax in their vetting. Because of the transient nature of the work, events security traditionally attracts the shadier element of the workforce. Those with fake licenses, or who may be using the license of another, or whose licenses were obtained using fake credentials, are rife. Careful and complete vetting is always absolutely essential. For the benefit of the industry as a whole, please report any “officer” you find who is attempting to use fake or dubious SIA license credentials, to the Security Industry Authority via their website at: https://www.services.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/Pages/Report-Illegal-Activity.aspx
We’ve all heard about, or even seen, dodgy security personnel selling drugs at festivals or taking cash to let people into venues via the back door. Do not let your company name be displayed across the press or social media when these unsavoury individuals are found out and carted off in the back of a Police van!
To run an effective and professional security team, your officers will require or will need to possess appropriate skills and knowledge. First aid will be a must. Although this is now part of SIA mandatory training, those who haven’t yet needed to renew their licenses since the new requirements came into force, will probably not have done a suitable course. Keep this in mind and if required, consider running a one-day course, on-site, prior to the commencement of the event. Physical intervention skills and an excellent knowledge of the laws around trespass, position of drugs, and powers of arrest will be essential. Also of great importance will be emergency communication skills. Make sure the officers can operate a two-way radio effectively, (you’d be surprised) and they will need to know the phonetic alphabet, as spoken communication in noisy and busy environments, is difficult.
Taking a few hours at the start of a deployment, to establish that these boxes are ticked, or to provide guidance to those that need it, will prove invaluable if the need arises to deal with any incidents that may arise. Also, consider the deployment of your officers and place those with key skills where they are of most value.
Wherever you decide to position your assets, every security officer should have a security site induction that identifies emergency escape routes, potential “pinch points” for visitors, perimeter weak spots, first aid posts, communication centres, CCTV locations and more. It is also important that any previous problem is mentioned, and that steps are taken to mitigate the likelihood of any repeat.
Avoiding the pitfalls.
Employing legitimately licensed security officers, with quality training, as mentioned, can be extremely challenging. One very successful way to bypass many of the usual problems is to utilise GuardPass. GuardPass provides a recruitment portal for employers called GuardHire. GuardHire is a highly efficient way to advertise for appropriate officers and allows you to search a huge pool of available staff, identifying those with the skills you need and even providing the ability to watch a 20-second introductory video for each potential candidate.
Once you’ve chosen the right people for the job, the GuardPass system also has a feature that can provide compliant and high-quality vetting, to BS7858 standards. GuardCheck is fast, and efficient, and will ensure that your people are fully and diligently vetted in time for deployment at your events. For more information have a look here. https://www.guardpass.com/employers
Think about welfare.
In a great many instances, it will be impractical to expect a large security team to travel to and from site before and after every shift. Many of these large events will require some form of arrangement to house security personnel during the duration of the assignment. Regardless of the rate you may be paying, it will still be the employer’s responsibility to ensure that officers are looked after, and their welfare is considered, for whatever arrangements are made. Somewhere safe, comfortable, and quiet, will need to be made available for sleeping, along with clean and sanitary toilet facilities, fresh drinking water, and somewhere to eat and have regular refreshment breaks. An employer will also need to consider the necessity for their officers to eat and drink healthily and at regular intervals, and if there is nowhere nearby for supplies to be purchased, will have to ensure that their team is fed and watered.
Many festivals and large events are held at venues that may not be possible for security officers to reach via public transport, or to park their cars. In these situations, it will be wise to provide some form of company transportation to the site from the nearest transport hub. If there is enough notice and forward planning, it may also be possible to arrange caravans, tents or local accommodation for your officers.
Event security can be the most enjoyable sector of the industry. We all see videos on YouTube of officers dancing at concerts, and that’s all very entertaining. But please remind your people that, whilst they may be having a whale of a time, they are not doing their job.
A professional security team will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors. When things go wrong at major events, however, the consequences can be catastrophic. Make sure you employ the right people, with appropriate training, deployed in the most effective locations, to ensure the best possible outcomes, if the worst should happen.
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