Large-scale action

Event security - Large-scale action, Sabine Funk

Sabine Funk is the Managing Director of IBIT GmbH and is one of Germany’s leading experts on event security and crowd management. She has been advising authorities and event organizers on planning and running events since 2007.

Mrs. Funk, many small associations have been complaining of the high costs that come with heightened security requirements. They can barely afford well-trained security personnel.

They definitely need to think about that more carefully, since there aren’t any standards when it comes to defining what ‘suitable’ personnel actually are. There aren’t any formal requirements for event managers. Theoretically, anyone could do it. The need to bear in mind, though, that the event manager is the one who decides if the event should be cancelled due to poor weather forecasts, for example. They’re also the one who acts as the main contact for firefighters and police. Those tasks alone call for a great deal of responsibility – it’s not something that just any random civilian would necessarily be able to take on. When it comes to security and guarding services, some event organizers are happy to cut costs, and choose personnel who may well make the wrong decisions when push comes to shove due to improper qualifications. Event organizers should be certain that they can properly respond to small- and large-scale emergencies. They definitely shouldn’t just assume that everything will work out fine. The better each one of them does their homework, the better we can respond to unforeseen events.

The state of global security is giving rise to new security requirements. What impact has the threat of terrorism had on events?

Whenever tragic events occur, such as at the Love Parade in Duisburg or the attacks in Paris, there is naturally a great deal of commotion and a subsequent pressure to act. What we’re seeing now is similar to what happened right after the Love Parade. First, there’s a response to things that already happened. We seldom see strategic planning; instead, people turn to large-scale actions.

Could you elaborate on that using an example?

A truck is steered into a crowd of pedestrians, so people decide that street blockades have to be put up everywhere. Nobody who’d looked into this topic in greater depth would believe that you’d really come closer to solving the problem by putting up a concrete block. What good would that do if a terrorist with a bomb in their bike basket simply rode past? Of course, these kinds of blockades do serve a purpose, but it would be mistaken to think that setting them up would resolve everything. I hope that we’ll increasingly start discussing holistic concepts, as was ultimately the case following the 2010 Love Parade.

How could we make that happen?

First, we should all accept that threat levels are a part of our lives – and are therefore a factor that comes into play for events. I hope that we could come to discuss this topic just as calmly and neutrally as we discuss the necessity of setting up barriers on stages, for example. There’s no reason to get hysterical or frightened when developing holistic concepts. We need to take a calm approach, and ask ourselves: What is possible? What would really make sense? Above all, we need to find solutions that are tailored to one another. Deploying properly trained personnel across the board is an indispensable part of that.

Picture Credits: © Nicolas Ottersbach