Do you prepare against acts of Terrorism?
October 13, 2017
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Can we be more pro-active as an industry?

I took a while to write this blog after another recent experience of having a  bomb threat at a recent Conference that innov8 was managing in June 2017. Whilst all our contingency planning came into effect and we saw a full rounded approach from both ourselves, the police and also our venue that allowed us to quickly ascertain that the building was in fact save. At the end of the day, when I was rewinding in my head briefing my team on our processes and procedures and the venues counter-terrorism evacuation policies etc, it did make me think back to when I visit various colleagues and Universities studying Events Managements and how little we actually speak about these issues openly within our industry.

There is no denying that the number of Terrorism offences and often the fear of Terrorism itself is on the rise, a recent Reuters report showed that Number of fatal terrorist attacks in western Europe is increasing.

However within our conversations in the events industry we often find ourselves focussing on more common issues such as Social Media Marketing, Exhibition Pricing and Delegate Catering habits. That's not to say these issues are not important, and that we should only talk about one subject, however is Terrorism at events the elephant in the room that we all don't want to talk about?

There have been a huge increase in funding around the world on Counter Terrorism, including more Conferences and Expo's discussing this in great detail such as the Security and Counter Terror Expo which takes place every year at the London Olympia. Some of the announcements and advice coming out of the event have been frankly blunt but also incredibly useful to the events industry, allowing us to make clear decisions about how best to keep our attendees safe. Including the recent updates on Managing the Security of Crowded places, which clearly showed how current security arrangements at the Stade de France prevented more loss of life whilst also introducing the industry to a document the Government produced in June 2017 which provides a full 174 pages of advice on various scenarios however you can clearly find the advice for those in the Major Events section. If you've not seen the report you can download the full report straight from the gov.uk website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/619411/170614_crowded-places-guidance_v1.pdf

Just before the International Conference I referred to earlier, my home town of Manchester fell victim to one of its worst ever Terrorist attacks, with 22 people sadly losing their lives and a further 116 injured at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena. We were all on high alert after this and understandably emotions were also high when a bomb threat was made to the Conference and was reported by a delegate of the Conference. I'm proud of the way both ourselves, the venue and the police responded to ensure the safety of the delegates at the event, however I know its also an experience a number of others in our industry have experienced. 

The Grand Hotel and Brighton Centre were both recently evacuated at the TUC Congress, in what thankfully turned out to be a Hoax Call, however concerns around Terrorism at major events : - Article on the Guardian Website


The question remains though, that despite the recent issues in our industry the threat of Terrorism is often took seriously individually within each organisation, we don't seem comfortable with talking about it openly. Events such as the first ever Association of Event Venues Conference which took place last year, should be applauded for putting Counter-Terrorism at the front of its programme of speakers. We do need more events such as these, and we also need to ensure that we all discuss these issues with our clients clearly and explain what processes we have put into place to help mitigate against them. 

However its also the conversations we have over Coffee, and those personal meetings where we will find that sharing our experiences as event organisers with our peers will help develop each other individually. Its a tough subject but we do need to tackle it.

A quote below from the Managing the Security of Crowded places:

It is accepted that the concept of absolute security is almost impossible to achieve in combatting the threat of terrorism, but it is possible, through the use of this guidance, to reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable. It is recognised that there is a need to maintain a friendly and welcoming atmosphere within major events environments.

Only by continuing to share our experiences of dealing with Terrorism and Risk Assessments in an open way within the key venues/ partners and organisers can we help to make our events even safer.

Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts on this, and I look forward to reading your comments and thoughts below.

James Caldwell

Director

innov8 Conference Services