Sunday, 31 March 2019

Event Safety -Training

In last weeks blog we talked about qualifications.  Today I want to talk about training.

There are many skills that you need in event safety and as the role has moved on during my time the list increases.

Some of these skills people have and they may just need sharpening.  Other skills are hidden and they need to be coaxed out.  Some need to be taught.

Personally speaking I have always said and indeed will always say so long as you have the basic building blocks then I can train and teach the rest.

So what are the skills:

  • Customer Service
  • Observation skills
  • Tact and diplomacy
  • A good sense of humour
  • Patience
  • An ability to not take things personally
  • Professionalism

The above is not an exhaustive list but if you can say that you have the above then you certainly have the building blocks that I am referring to.

So, let's take each of these one at a time.

Customer Service

When I first started in Event Safety I was taught that I was there for safety and security and not customer service.  My job was to make sure that everything was safe and if that meant being blunt then so be it.

Nowadays though the accepted thinking is dramatically different.  In 99% of events an attendees first interaction with a representative of the event is when they interact with event safety and security staff.

That first interaction can set the tone.  By using your customer service skills, greeting the attendee, responding to there questions and indeed being proactive and advising where points of interest are you can effect the mood of that attendee.

If they enter the event in a good mood and can see the human side of event safety staff then if you do need to challenge them later there is a better chance that you will get a positive outcome.

Observation Skills

For event safety and security staff these are very important and are definitely one that will need sharpening and focusing.

From the moment you arrive at the event site to the moment that you leave you will use your powers of observation.

This can be from doing pre event checks, to watching a queue of arriving attendees, to monitoring an area or group of attendees to the post event checks.

As time goes on you will learn to read people and there body language.  You can even get to the point where you know what that person is thinking at pretty much the same time as they do.

This is not a skill that can be taught from a book but through experience.  I can teach the signs to look for based on my experience and indeed will do.

Tact and Diplomacy

There are occasions where you will need to use both of these in dealing with certain circumstances.  If you are not capable of using these skills then it will hamper your ability to do the job.

If you embarrass an attendee then this can come back on you and can cause them to become aggressive and for a situation to escalate.   

A good sense of humour

Now it probably won't surprise you to read that this is one that I can't train.  I can't teach you to have a good sense of humour.

It does help you to do the job though and so I have included it on the list.

This sits side by side with your customer service skills and can be invaluable in building a rapport with attendees.

Also, at times it can help defuse situations especially if you are able to laugh at yourself.


This is very important.  There are times when you want to go into a situation to deal with it but in doing so you could make it worse.  It can be because to go in on your own would put you at risk or you have to wait for CCTV resource or Police backup.

Sometimes it can be that an attendee has caught your eye but they haven't stepped far enough over the line to warrant action being taken against them yet.  You know what is about to happen but you have to let it play out.

I once spent a whole football match watching an attendee that I knew had snuck alcohol into the stand.  I knew I had seen it but I had to wait to see it again before I reported it just in case I was wrong.  There are after all some soft drinks that are served in green bottles.

When the event finished I went straight to that persons seat and sure enough there was the alcohol.  It turns out I had seen him drinking the last dregs of his beer.

An ability to not take things personally and professionalism

I've included these together as what I have to say about them is pretty much the same.

There will be times when you will have attendees get in your face.  They will be rude to you, make suggestions about your parentage and call you a jobsworth and worse besides.

Football fans have a song that they like to sing to you about getting a proper job.

As much as these insults can be personal and they do hurt you cannot take them that way.  You have to let it go and move on with your job.

Of course that does not apply to anything that can be construed as of a racial or homophobic nature.  This is never acceptable and anyone engaging in this should be dealt with immediately.

I have had times where people have spent most of the game watching me rather then the game that they originally purchased there ticket for.  It happens.

Especially during high stakes games when fans are tense the steward in the fluorescent jacket that it asking them to comply with the ground regulations is the straw that breaks the camels back and you cop it.

If it is excessive or as I said above of a racial or homophobic nature then the person has to go but you have to deal with it professionally and within the rules.

When I teach and train event staff these are the things that I focus on.  I also encourage reflective learning.  Review your performance and ask yourself could you have dealt with every situation you were involved in today differently.  Would you knowing the outcome do it differently?

Even after all of my years involved in event safety I still reflect on each event and pick up on things that I could improve on.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Event Safety - Qualifications

Unless you have certain qualifications it is highly unlikely that Event Safety is a full time job for you.  Most event safety staff are employed either as contractors or on zero hours contracts.

There is the potential to make money but you could quite easily find yourself working a lot of hours to do so.

Event safety especially at an entry level will tend to attract people looking for some extra money around other commitments.  For example students or as was the case for me someone looking to make a few extra pounds whilst learning and honing a specific skill.

In my case I fell in love with the job and twenty two years later I'm still doing it.  That said during that time I've said goodbye to a number of great colleagues whose careers outside of event safety have taken off to the point that they can't do both and event safety has lost out.

The fact that I am now in the positions that I am will I'm sure tell you that as well as doing the job I have put a lot into my professional development.  For the record, I hold a NVQ Level 4 Diploma in Spectator Safety Management and the NCRQ Level 6 certificate in Applied Health and Safety with merit.  I also have over the years taken other courses that are now defunct and no longer recognised.

If you are going to be in event safety for a sustained period then you will need to obtain a qualification in event safety.  Currently this is the NVQ2 in Spectator Safety.  As is always the way this may change later this year but as things stand at the moment this is the course that you need.

To pass this course you will need to produce a portfolio of evidence of you doing the job and to demonstrate a level of competence in doing so.  Your NVQ assessor and training college will help you to do this.

Depending on your aspirations there are other additional courses that you can do to take your learning further and to potentially gain access to higher level jobs within event safety but if you are happy at an entry level then the NVQ 2 is the one for you.

If you are considering going further in the first instance I would encourage you to speak with one of the people that are doing the job that you covet.  Personally speaking I'm always happy to speak with members of my team that want my job.  I will mentor and guide them and assist them in any way that I can.  Why?  It's simple.  When I leave that job for the next one I know that there is someone there that can deliver for me and will do so to my standards.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Entering the field of play in Football. Is it illegal?

We all saw what happened last weekend both at Arsenal and at Birmingham with spectators deciding to enter the field of play.

Over the years I have had to deal with spectators entering the field of play on a number of occasions.  Without a moments hesitation that person has to be removed from the stadium.  Sometimes though they manage to get back into the stands and there fellow supporters will try to actively stop you getting to that person and ejecting them.

Where you have the benefit of CCTV you can track an individual and seek to eject them later.  Alternatively, if you have the resources and it is safe to do so you can go into the stand and eject them from the stand.

Where it is a Policed game you can hand the individual to the Police there and then for them to take action.  If it is a Police free game then you may want to either try to obtain details of the individual or at least capture a photograph of the person to enable the Police to take retrospective action.

What annoyed me the most last weekend though was listening to football pundits saying that entering the field of play should be illegal.  It already is!!

As you can see from the above it is an offence under the Football (Offences) Act 1991 and yes even if you don't make it to the grass but enter any area adjacent to the grass you still commit the same offence.

If you are found guilty (or plead guilty) then the punishment you can expect is a fine of up to £1,000.00.  You may also find that you are subject to a Football Banning Order.  This can be in place for anything from three years to five years.

A banning order will mean that you are required to surrender your passport when asked by the enforcing authority and then report to a Police station during any control period.

A control period is likely to be anytime a high profile event such as the World Cup is on but is not restricted to this. 

You could also find that you are forbidden from coming within a certain distance of a named stadium from two hours before to two hours after an event or from using the rail network without the prior approval of the British Transport Police.

There may be further restrictions imposed as well.

On top of the above you may find that you receive a club ban as well.  This including the length of any such ban is completely at the sole discretion of the club. 

You may also find that your club, the club that you love may end up facing a FA charge based on your actions.  The FA may decide to fine your club, force them to play behind closed doors or deduct points as punishment.  This in itself could open up a whole number of issues and potentially could cost the club either a league title or may be the difference between the club staying up or being relegated.

I'm not going to dwell on the above any further or to debate the fairness of the club facing the above sanctions as that in itself could be a separate blog and is not in keeping with what I want this blog to be about.

I will however bring this blog to a close by answering the question posed at the beginning.  Yes, it is.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Keep it simple

I can spend a lot of my time thinking and planning.  Imagining different scenarios and risks and making plans to mitigate, minimise or remove them.

The challenge sometimes can be knowing when to take a moment and to not over complicate things.  Sometimes a control that is in place for one thing can also cover off other things at the same time.

The other challenge can be ensuring that your staff are clear on what they are required to do.  If your plans are not clear and simple then there is an increased risk that staff may struggle to action your plans.  

As such I will tend to keep somewhere between eighty and ninety percent of my plans to myself or just between myself and my deputy.  Not because I don't want to share it but just to keep things simple.  Although sometimes it can be because that it is now evident that a particular scenario isn't now going to come to pass and so my plan for dealing with it is no longer needed.

The plans are usually written down and form a part of the event contingency plans. 

The plans are also living documents and are reviewed and revised (if any revision is needed) on a regular basis.  This can be annually or after they are required.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

A good day in event safety

For those that have sat through any of my briefings or discussions there is a very simple answer that I give or will proclaim.

"A good day is where everyone that attends this event goes home with the same number of fingers and toes as they came here with."

The above answer is also one of the yard sticks that I use when I reflect on my own performance.

If you look at my function at an event and boil it down to the most basic level my job is to ensure that everyone is safe at the event. 

At any event there can be any number of risks that are present.  Some obvious and some less so.  At times I can also be involved in protecting someone from there own questionable decisions.

In my job I can get called many names, have my parentage questioned and much more besides.  However, that person following my intervention should now go home safely.

I accept that people will disagree with me at times and will feel that I am being a killjoy or jobsworth.  However, ultimately if anything does go wrong it will be me in the dock being asked to explain a decision to not get involved.  At this point those same people (now with the benefit of hindsight) can be the first calling for my head as they now think that I should have intervened.

As such I have to find a balance.  For me this is where the above quote is my guiding light.  The wording changes slightly though and becomes a very simple question.

- If we step in is there a better chance that this person will go home with the same number of fingers and toes as they arrived with?

If the answer is yes then we must step in.

There are obviously a number of other considerations, criteria and questions to answer and in Event Safety you can have to go through these in a matter of seconds. At the most basic level though this is for me the primary question.

In our Social Media age any decisions to either get involved or not (as the case maybe) can be discussed at length by people who have the luxury of time and the benefit of hindsight.

As an Event Safety Manager I have my experience to guide me and at times may only have seconds to make a decision.

We will train for and plan for many different situations and scenarios.  We are also in a very elite club of roles where it is a good day when you don't have to use most of your planning and only a small percentage of your skills.