Understanding Safety Management in policing major events

Understanding Safety Management in policing major events

The Event Safety Institute (ESI) teaches police commanders and advisors how to police major events. We note that police experts have started to pay more attention to crowd safety management which is a good development, since public order management and safety management should be in balance.

The safety and security of major events is an important topic in many countries around the globe. Generally, events are required to get a permit or license from local governments, and police agencies advise city councils about the requirements to hold a safe event. Historically, police have been focusing on public order risks that threaten events. Whether it be a potential for riots in the streets during New Year’s celebrations, or just the risk of small-scale fights around local fairs, police advisers are in a position to determine the police deployment around events and to suggest the measures to be taken by event organizers themselves.

Safety management

Public order risks are still present at many events, but awareness about safety management of crowds at events is increasing. This is very understandable: most of the larger incidents during events were more safety-related than security or public order based. At recent incidents like those at the Love Parade in 2010 (Duisburg, Germany) the Falls Festival in 2016 (Lorne, Australia) and Astroworld in 2021 (Houston, TX, USA),  safety issues led to deaths and many injuries. These types of risks are  foreseeable and preventable most of the time.

Crowd risk analysis

What is the safety management of events about? It starts with understanding events have different safety risks in different phases of the event. During ingress, long queues can lead to risks. Mid-event risks could appear during popular acts, and post-event risks can arise when egress management is poorly managed and traffic management is ineffective. These different safety risks can have a combination of factors that lead to incidents or even major catastrophes. A thorough crowd risk analysis gives insight into what can be done to prevent these foreseeable incidents from happening. This risks analysis also helps to demonstrate the stakeholders involved have done everything they should have done.

Police advisers

Safety management should also be a focal point for police advisers. The care for the safety of the public is a joint effort of the organizer, the city council and its advisors, including the police. Traditionally, fire departments pay the most attention to escape routes and accessibility of the location for emergency services. Medical advisers pay most attention to health risks like extreme temperatures, food safety and the deployment of medical care. Police advisers have their focus on security and public order risks. But who has made the crowd risk analysis? It is our belief that all these agencies should take these risks into consideration together.

Teaching risk assessment

In the courses that ESI teaches police officers on event safety, we give better insights in to how safety risks could be assessed and the tools that can easily be applied to make a profound crowd risk analysis. Professor Keith Still’s DIM-ICE model, RAMP analysis and congestion mapping method are amongst the most used globally. ESI has a long-term relationship with Keith Still, which brings us in the unique position to deliver his level 5 course under his supervision. We’ve been doing this in The Netherlands since 2016 and from 2022 we extend this to Australia and New Zealand. We look forward to meeting many police officers and other stakeholders during these courses. ESI’s mission is to make the awareness of professional safety management more common in the planning, permitting and execution phase of major events. We hope to meet you in our courses!


Learn more about our courses on our website or contact us at info@esi.email.

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