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Last edited 19 Jun 2021
Protecting sports grounds and event arenas post COVID
Hopefully, 2021 will be the year sports grounds and events arenas can open up for business as usual. Now would therefore be a good time for businesses to review venue security. With that in mind, here are some key points to consider.
 Crowd control is likely to be a major issue
The nature of sports grounds and event arenas is that they host major events. The nature of major events is that they are exciting. This means that there are usually challenges with crowd control. Most of these are purely about people getting over-enthusiastic and/or over-eager to get early access.
Now take all that and multiply it by the “COVID-factor”. Once the UK finally moves out of pandemic restrictions, people are understandably going to be desperate for live entertainment. Realistically, this fact has implications which go way beyond just dealing with rowdy ticket-holders.
Firstly, it’s going to increase the likelihood that people are going to try to access venues by unauthorized means. This may be because the effects of COVID19 have left them without the funds to buy tickets. It could also be because there are no tickets to be had.
Secondly, it increases opportunities for touts and fraudsters. Touts do at least sell real tickets, albeit at massively inflated prices. Fraudsters, however, sell fake tickets. Their victims may only discover they’ve been scammed when they arrive and they may have spent a lot of money and/or travelled a long way.
 Petty crime is also likely to be a concern
On a similar note, the economic impact of COVID19 could well lead to an increase in petty crime. This could be both vandalism (as a result of boredom and frustration) and theft (for economic reasons). If venues fail to implement effective crowd-control measures then petty criminals could essentially operate unchecked.
Significant, premeditated attacks are, fortunately, very rare. There is, however, no room for complacency. At present, it’s impossible to say what impact, if any, COVID19 will have on the likelihood of terror attacks. Venues, must, however, prepare for the worst given that successful attacks tend to have a truly horrendous impact.
 Security will depend on pre-event organisation
Venues will have to keep up their fight against touts and scammers to ensure that only legitimate ticket-holders arrive at the venue. They will then need to ensure that these ticket holders know exactly what is expected of them. Basically, venues need to take away the excuse of ignorance.
On the plus side, venues may be able to adopt and adapt some of the crowd-control measures developed as a result of COVID19. In particular, they may want to start encouraging patrons to wait at a distance from the venue until you are ready to call them. This can make patrons more comfortable as well as making life easier for security personnel.
Securing your perimeter is a fundamental in any environment. It takes on a whole new level of significance for sports grounds and event arenas. These venues, essentially by definition, are designed to be open. This makes it effectively impossible to implement meaningful access controls once people are inside the main area.
Venues should therefore do whatever they can to maintain control of their immediate surroundings. This may involve working with relevant parties (e.g. local authorities) to agree on a balance between security concerns and privacy concerns.
Firstly, you need to ensure that malicious actors cannot exploit weak security in (what should be) private areas. Secondly, you need to ensure that staff do not fall victim to lack of security. This means that you need to be willing to invest both in physical deterrents (e.g. security doors and shutters) and staff training.
--Newgate 13:49, 20 Feb 2021 (BST)
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