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Events industry 'hugely vulnerable' to attack, debate hears

A panel at EventHuddle debated whether the industry is doing enough to keep delegates and events safe

The events industry is “hugely vulnerable” to terror threats, an industry debate has heard.

A panel of experts from the field of event safety, security and insurance debated whether the industry is doing enough to keep delegates and events safe at the latest edition of EventHuddle.  

On the subject of screening event attendees, Simon Garrett of global risk assessment company X-Venture said: “If we scrapped all our screening, I don’t think it would make a blind bit of difference to this threat. We need to start facing the issues; anybody wearing a contractor t-shirt carrying a box can walk into a venue. 

“The events industry is hugely vulnerable because we don’t employ anyone; we pay a lot of people, but don’t directly employ. So we don’t check National Insurance status, etc.”

Chris Woodford, head of events safety at Capita, said: “If we want to provide all round cover and screening, you can’t just look on the outside: you need to start on the inside and work your way out. Consultants, security guards...why can’t the stage manager be RFID tagged?” 

Mark Blair of insurance company InEvexco questioned whether we know who is threatening the industry.

He said: “It can be clearer when it’s a physical threat, but when it comes to cyber threats they could be anywhere and be anyone and we need to put just as much emphasis on this before it’s too late.” 

Woodford reiterated the need to look at the potential new threat from cybercrime. He said: “How do we identify what is and what isn’t a threat and then what do we do about it?

“Planning, communication and threat should be communicated between planner and venue. Some venues are refusing to give out their emergency and evacuation procedures in case it breaches their security, which puts the event organiser in a massive quandary. We need joined up thinking.” 

Simon Hughes of MCHA ltd noted that while there is a fair amount of guidance to be found online from the Home Office and other security agencies, a large amount of it hasn’t been updated for around six to eight years. 

Garrett concurred that he also sees many out of date documents, and feels that since the days of Irish republican terrorism, the threat has moved on and is different; so we need to become far more nuanced in our response.

The next EventHuddle takes place on Thursday 17 March, discussing event food wastage and how to reduce it, with Mark Dodds of Roythornes and Samantha Wilson of EcoEvents already set to feature.

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