Eric Stuart QPM, Chair of the United Kingdom Crowd Management Association (UKCMA), writes:
The Autumn Budget raised a new challenge, across the board pay rises to the National Minimum Wage of around 10%.
I operate in the ‘events space’ and wonder if companies anticipated this rise when negotiating rates for 2023? Did promoters calculate this when setting ticket rates? 10% additional security costs will impact security companies, the promoter and customers already facing a cost-of-living crisis.
Production costs are rising, so will security (and hence safety) be reduced? Does a 10% rise on the security costs mean a 10% reduction in staff to balance the books? Or will the new, cheap, untrained and inexperienced companies gain even more work?
Meanwhile, the Manchester findings loom large, yet larger still the ‘Protect Duty’. Understandably, the families are pushing Government to introduce this legislation quickly, although I have considerable sympathy with Home Office officials trying to resolve complex issues, including:
• Defining responsibility for grey space/last mile/zone ex
• Defining a Publicly Accessible Location
• Defining a competent person or the competence needed
• Defining who will monitor, investigate breaches, or prosecute ‘failures’
• Defining ‘reasonable steps’ in terms of terrorism, where the person making the assessment will lack the full intelligence picture
• Assessing what CT public liability insurance will cost
• Understanding whether existing companies will be prepared to take the risk of providing a CT service
Perhaps an amendment to the H+S@WA 1974 might have more quickly delivered much of what was needed, but in an emotionally charged public inquiry, promises were made that others now have to deliver. However, the ‘just make it happen’ attitude cannot be allowed to permit the introduction of bad law.
Amongst others, the safety and security industry will ultimately be expected to deliver this legislation and when we ‘fail’, as we will now be judged against a flawed ‘duty’ and found wanting as the easy scapegoats.
In government agencies, when that happens, people move sideways (sometimes getting promoted) and promises are made that lessons will be learnt. That will not be the same for the security industry or those within it. Companies will face prosecution and bankruptcy whilst individuals may be prosecuted and face the families and courts. All of that is right and proper, so long as the law is fair in the first place.
The Protect Duty may prevent some future attacks or divert a terrorist to softer targets. But, if anyone expects 100% protection from terrorism, then that means living in a world where all freedoms are restricted for everyone. If it takes longer, so be it.
Eric Stuart QPM is a vastly experienced professional in police work and crowd safety management.
He was a witness at the Manchester Arena Inquiry, specifically in relation the role of security and their counter terrorism roles, and most lately in relation to the ‘Care Gap’ after a major incident.
Among the many strings to his bow, he is a crowd safety manager for events ranging from summer festivals and concerts through to Edinburgh Hogmanay.
Stuart was the co-author of the 2015 UK Good Practice Guide to working in Safety Advisory Groups.
He has been involved in crowd safety for 17 years and was the police planning lead for Notting Hill Carnival, London New Year’s Eve and the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.