When organising or running an event, the number one priority should always be safety and security — no matter the size or nature of it. However, large events such as concerts, festivals or sports matches intrinsically come with an added level of risk.
Predicting exactly when and where every attack will occur is an impossible task, and recent years have seen several tragic examples of events being targeted. Although we can’t always foresee attacks, we can learn from past ones and find ways to prevent similar ones in the future…
France vs Germany Football Match, Paris
In November 2015, three suicide bombers consecutively detonated explosives outside the Stade de France, where 79,000 spectators — including the French President Francois Hollande —were watching a football game. A man was reportedly prevented from entering the stadium after a security check detected explosives: he then backed away from security guards and detonated a suicide belt.
One passer-by was killed in the attack, but the death toll would likely have been in the hundreds were it not for the adequate security at the stadium which prevented the attackers from penetrating the perimeter. The attack highlights the importance of ensuring robust security measures are implemented a safe distance from the epicentre of the event site or venue.
Eagles of Death Metal Concert, Paris
Later that night, three attackers armed with assault weapons entered the Bataclan concert venue and opened fire, killing 90 concert-goers. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, several artists who were due to hold concerts in the area cancelled or postponed appearances. Security was also ramped up at other event venues around the world.
It’s still not clear exactly how armed attackers were able to storm the Bataclan, but the attack proved eye-opening for the event industry, with many artist managers and concert promoters calling for the wider use of metal detectors at concert venues.
When Sting performed at the Bataclan one year later to mark the reopening of the venue, security had been significantly ramped up — and concert-goers were met with barricades, extensive body searches and scores of armed police.
Bastille Day Firework Display, Nice
In 2016, event organisers had to contend with a new type of threat. On 14 July, thousands of people had just finished watching a firework display to mark Bastille Day in France when a lorry breached the promenade barriers and careered at full speed towards the crowd. In total, 84 people died, and hundreds of others were injured. Due to security fears, organisers cancelled many other upcoming events in the area in the wake of the attack.
Christmas Market, Berlin
A few months later in December, a truck was deliberately driven into a packed Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring more than 60 others. When the market reopened three days later on 22 December, concrete barriers lined all sides facing the street.
Both this attack and the one in Nice demonstrate how difficult it is to predict where and when attackers will strike next — and even how they will strike. Organisers of large-scale events or security professionals at high-capacity venues, therefore, need to be particularly wary and take appropriate precautions.
Ariana Grande Concert, Manchester
On 22 May 2017, 14,200 fans — many of them children — were starting to leave a concert at Manchester Arena when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb, killing 22 people and wounding many more. The blast occurred in the foyer, outside the ticketing perimeter and the designated security zone.
With this in mind, it is essential event organisers assess the location of the event perimeter and ensure adequate safety measures are implemented at strategic places to mitigate the potential risks.
Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, Las Vegas
Over in the US, event organisers once again faced a very different method of attack in October 2017. On the final night of the festival, 58 people were killed, and hundreds more injured as the attacker opened fire on the crowd from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel across the road.
The attack was unprecedented, and it would have been incredibly challenging to prepare for this type of scenario. However, it highlights the increasing need for event organisers to work with external security professionals and other venues in the surrounding area to ensure security is covered from all angles.
What can we do to prevent this?
Statistically, a site or venue is still far more likely to be evacuated due to a fire than a terrorist attack. However, with the risks faced in the world today, it is imperative to prepare security in line with the highest threat level. Event organisers and venue security officers have a duty of care and should always plan events with the assumption that the worst will happen.
Frank Baldwin, a security scanning expert and CEO of 2X Event Solutions, says: “Rather than be paralysed by fear, effective solutions and an ‘inside out, outside in’ approach need to be adopted to help thwart future attacks at events. There is also a real case for ensuring security zones and adequate perimeters are erected further from the areas where large crowds gather to maximise safety”.
When carrying out the risk assessment of the site or venue, it is essential to remember there are phases to an event and consideration should be given to factors such as crowd management, exterior perimeters, exit or entry points and entertainment zones. However, security should not hinder the overall feel and atmosphere of the event, so striking a balance is vital.
2X Event Solutions’ sophisticated security screening equipment is available for short or long-term rental hire — offering flexible hiring options for both public and private events. Contact email@example.com to find out more.