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Keeping events safe and secure in 2019 – why it’s everyone’s job

Harrogate Convention Centre

Published

Richard Catton


With North Yorkshire enjoying the lowest crime rates in the UK, it still pays to be vigilant. The responsibility is on every one of us to ensure we’re all safe and enjoy a successful event, according to Harrogate Convention Centre Operations Executive, Alistair Good.

If you’ve attended a major public event in the past couple of years you’ve almost certainly experienced some kind of security check. Whether it’s a metal detector, bag search or the expert nose of a trained security dog, door checks are now part of life when attending shows and events.

Being stopped and asked to reveal the contents of a bag can provoke a range of reactions from visitors, from acceptance to downright outrage that someone should suspect them of carrying something dodgy in their Louis Vuitton.

But with the public called on to be ever more vigilant, and door security checks here to stay, we spoke to one of the people doing the checking to explain how to make a necessary process as painless as possible.

Alistair Good, Operations Executive with Showsec, the company behind security at Harrogate Convention Centre, said the key to getting into your event smoothly was not adopting a them-and-us attitude to security, but to work with door staff.

“If you’re asked to empty your bag, remember this is probably because it’s a term of entry established by the venue itself,” he explained.

“We work to a set of rules about what you can and cannot bring into an event. It’s the venue which decides the prohibited items lists. People will often say to us ‘I don’t have bomb in my bag’. And, of course, we realise it’s highly unlikely anyone has a bomb in their bag, but we can’t make exceptions. There’s no typical look for someone who poses a security threat.

“It’s all about sensible precaution with as little disruption to the visitor as possible. My advice would be to only bring what you really need and to use as small a bag as possible.

“Ask yourself if you really need to bring that rucksack; could you get away with just using a handbag?”

A number of high-profile UK terror attacks over the past two years have seen the public become more vigilant when spotting and reporting anything suspicious but, as Alistair explains, security checks aren’t always about sinister threats.

“Things as innocent as selfie-sticks could be on a venue’s prohibited list. It’s about not taking up space, especially if the venue has to be evacuated for some reason. People walk at roughly one-meter per second so the fewer bags and larger items there are around, the easier it makes the situation if we need to get everybody outside quickly and safely.

“Unattended bags are still one of the main reasons venues get evacuated. The public, thankfully, are a lot more clued up on what to look out for, so please don’t be the person who leaves a bag or suitcase unattended because someone will report it, meaning we have to make quick decisions on what action to take. It’s also one of the reasons we supply cloakrooms. “

Alistair pointed out a recent Transport Police security campaign as a simple but effective strategy for members of the public to keep in mind when they attend events.

“See it, say it, sorted,” he said. “If you see something suspicious, don’t worry about being a nuisance, just tell us about it straight away and we’ll sort it. We’re there for your reassurance so come and speak to us.

“It’s up to us all to be the eyes and ears at an event. And remember, if you’re at a show and there’s a highly visible security presence it doesn’t mean the event is unsafe, in fact it means the opposite. It’s probably the safest place you can be.”

Would you like to join the security team at Harrogate Convention Centre? Showsec is currently looking to recruit staff from the Harrogate area. Click here for details.

If you’re visiting Harrogate Convention Centre for an event you can read our security advice here including which types bags you are permitted to bring into the venue.

Exhibition delegates make their way into one of the halls at Harrogate Convention Centre
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