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Venue Summit: Safety & security

Venue Summit: Safety & security

Chairs: Prof Chris Kemp, Mind Over Matter Consultancy (UK) & Coralie Berael, Forest National Arena (BE)

Panellists: Steve Schwenkglenks, Barclaycard Arena Hamburg (DE) & Gary Simpson, ASM Global 

ILMC's Venue Summit opened with a busy room full of people keen to hear about one of the most pressing issues currently: safety and security of audiences.

Coralie Berael from Belgium’s Forest National venue told the audience that enhanced searches have meant that the police have concerns about the number of people waiting outside the venue while the checks take place. So, where does this issue end? she asked. At the point they get on transport? She stressed the need for venues to ensure patrons have a good customer experience and posed the question of whose role it is to detect the bad actors.

ASM Global’s Gary Simpson said security costs money, so venues need to understand what their threats and risks are, because they have to make decisions on where to allocate resources. We have to be rational about it, agreed Berael.

Simpson said he is an advocate for high standards but at the same time it’s important that venues understand what the threat levels are -  and to do what is necessary with regards to information. There isn’t the same terrorism threat level in London as in a small town in Scotland, so how can venues get more localised information in order to prepare accordingly and manage costs more effectively.

Panel chairman Chris Kemp from Mind Over Matter Consultancy discussed issues that can arise from a cyber-attack, such as how to handle it and what the threats could be. Simpson said the advent of ‘smart’ buildings, which are highly connected to the Internet means this is likely to be a growing issue. Practising good cyber security is important, for example changing passwords. But remember machines are not the only weakness – people can be too, he pointed out.

Kemp said there’s an issue with finding sufficient numbers of qualified people for security roles, so can tech help us? Simpson shared details about machines that can spot dangerous objects in bags without people needing to open them for staff.

Some audiences are getting younger and younger – with children as young as 10 being left alone at gigs. Some parents drop their kids off in the morning thinking the venue can look after their kids. Now, if parents are dropping off kids, some venues have created a disclaimer form asking the parent to say there’s no responsibility on the venue’s part.

Simpson said venues and promoters need to work together more closely. Some security riders from artists now list every potential threat that needs to be covered – but that’s not always financially viable. So it’s important to discuss what are the priorities and what’s a reasonable level of protection given the circumstances.

With increasing numbers of people with disabilities coming to concerts, Berael reminded the room that policies are in place for evacuating people with disabilities if there’s an incident.