Alex Lepingwell: Stewards to be given voice

Stewards often are an overlooked resource. Alex Lepingwell, managing director, Green Stewards, asks whether the creation of a National Stewarding Council will professionalise the sector and create guidelines for event organisers.

Within the outdoor event arena and outside of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), stewarding has no universally accepted body of representation. This seems unusual given that stewards are often the largest single group of operational staff at an event.

SIA legislation prescribes activities that stewards can be involved in but does not provide any guidance on what stewards can do or how that should best be achieved. There are organisations in existence such as the UKCMA, which cover the wider issue of crowd management and safety, but I do not feel that it is representative of stewarding specifically. Stewarding is a unique activity at events and needs to be treated as a separate issue from SIA licensable activities.

BS 8406:2009 is a very comprehensive document covering event stewarding and crowd safety. However, it would be very hard for a small event to adhere to the code of practice laid out within the guidelines. The industry needs a simplified set of guidelines covering the fundamentals of stewarding applicable to small non-professional organisations and also applicable to professionally produced major events.

I am currently working with NOEA to create a National Stewarding Council, which could address these issues – it could rationalise a number of grey areas. Without standardisation of qualifications and a clear code of practice for stewarding providers, we remain in a situation where the largest body of staff responsible for the health, safety and customer care of an event are unregulated. A voluntary or accredited code of practice would allow industry to expect professional levels of service from stewarding companies and thus well trained and well managed stewards.