Choosing a crowd management and security company: Which will be right for your event?

How do you go about selecting the company that is right for your event and where do you start? Teresa Moore, Head of Department Music and Event Management at Bucks New University, has the answers

With increasing numbers of crowd management and security companies entering the market place all the time, how do you go about selecting the company that is right for your event and where do you start?

It is worth saying at this point that not all events need to hire a crowd management or security company. Where the event is small, local and the audience is made up of families, for example, very often it is enough to find some volunteers to help with entry and exit and provide assistance if needed. If your event is bigger with a more mixed audience then you may decide that you will need some professional help. In either case, if you are in any doubt about the need for crowd management and security you should seek advice.

If professional crowd management is necessary and you have decided or are required to hire a company to provide this service, the first question that you may want to consider is exactly what service you need from the company and the roles that you wish their staff to fulfil.

Crowd Management

Essentially, the service that crowd management companies provide is one that is designed to help ensure the health and safety of all audience members including children, those with special needs and those working on your event, including the stewards themselves.

The first thing that you will need is a crowd management plan and the company will want to carry out an inspection of your event site so that it can prepare the plan. Depending on the complexity of your event, this will include details such as the findings of the site inspection, the recommended numbers and types of stewards, the crowd management command and control structure, the audience profile, methods of ingress and egress (entry and exist), contingency planning and emergency procedures.

It should also identify any significant hazards associated with the tasks to be undertaken by the stewards and security staff and provide a means by which to either eliminate, or at least control them to a tolerable level. This plan will form the basis for the rest of the crowd management activity for your event.

Crowd Management companies will provide stewards to staff entrances and exits, and control or direct the audience who are entering or leaving the event to help achieve an even flow of people into and from the various parts of the site. They can man other strategic points such as exit doors or gates which are not open while the event is in progress and can assist in keeping gangways and exits clear. Stewards can be an invaluable help by providing audience members with information about the available facilities including first aid, toilet, welfare and concessions and can provide a number of other roles.

Beyond the general welfare of your audience, stewards should be able to recognise a variety of crowd conditions and, where necessary, act to safely disperse the audience if there is any danger of overcrowding. They should make themselves familiar with your arrangements for evacuating the audience in case of an emergency and undertake specific and previously assigned duties in an emergency, communicating with any event control centre.