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Biggest threats to crowd security and safety at sporting fixtures in the UK

Sporting events are complicated events to manage. There are so many elements and moving parts to consider – many managed by independent companies on behalf of the event organiser. One critical aspect of any sporting event is security. It’s essential that spectators, fans and athletes are safe and secure to ensure that the event is successful for all. Across a range of sports, there are a few fundamental crowd security concerns that need to be planned and prepared for. We discuss these below:

Crowd dynamics
First and foremost, the crowd itself is an inevitable yet necessary security concern. Crowds mean revenue for event organisers, but they need to be carefully managed. Individuals become irrelevant and at times in danger when in a crowd – the terrible happenings of the Hillsborough disaster and more recent events in Indonesia are dreadful evidence of this. Crowds need to be managed and ushered safely and securely to their final destination – whether it be seats or standing areas. Staff wearing high vis clothing should be clearly visible so anyone who needs help can attain this effectively.

UK sporting events are usually accompanied by excessive drinking, which can be a great way to make money but it often stirs up trouble in crowds and between spectators. Football has a ban on drinking in the stands altogether, which was brought in to combat hooliganism. However, this tends to make fans drink more heavily before matches or at halftime – which can exacerbate security issues in itself. Staff need to be educated about when to refuse service to spectators in order to reduce the chances of fights or disorderly behaviour, but these will likely happen anyway. Having the appropriate security forces and services in stadiums and sporting complexes is a must.

Stemming from alcohol consumption, violence is often an inevitable repercussion of excessive drinking, made worse by rivalries and feuds between supporters. Violence can snowball, meaning that one incident can cause many more and things can quickly get out of hand. Quick response to any violence occurring in a crowd is critical to ensure that the situation doesn’t get worse.

Venue and sporting activity
The venue and actual sporting activity taking place can also be a threat to members of the public. Take motorsport, for example, cars or bikes racing around a track at high speeds can be potentially fatal to spectators if there aren’t proper measures in place. Or even at tennis, cricket or golf venues – hard flying balls can effectively become projectiles into the crowd. These factors are more difficult to prepare for and are more random in occurrence, but they’re important to consider and prepare emergency responses for.

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