Eventia: Do events need police cred?

Can police involvement give security more credit? Rory Sloan, Eventia board director, and head of production, RPM, asks the question…

The Government is currently under pressure to reduce costs in the public sector, which inevitably means cutting the number of police on our streets. With the violent riots still fresh in everyone’s minds, this is a troubling thought – so where could their skills be put to good use? There is no reason why we cannot take a leaf out of America’s book, and use off duty police officers on event security teams. This is common practice stateside, and although their system of policing isn’t perfect, when I’ve co-ordinated events in America I will always have a number of off duty police officers on my security team. Some may feel this is unnecessary, but it has many advantages.

Firstly, not only would this supplement the rather meagre salaries of the police but it would also ensure a certain level of professionalism that comes with extensive training, as opposed to a certificate that can be gained after a two-day course. This is not to say I haven’t worked with some excellent security personnel over the years, but I also have my fair share of horror stories.

Secondly, if an incident arises which requires police attention, then the off duty police officers are able to talk to their “own” in a common language, often diffusing the situation before ego’s get inflated. Finally, as is the nature of events involving the public, there are occasions where people get injured which can result in legal action being taken. Despite having an excellent record of defending actions taken against us, some do inevitably end up in court where it doesn’t feel as if much respect is given to incident reports completed by security personnel. I would bet that an incident report from a police officer would add more credence.

I realise that implementing this idea wouldn’t be without its challenges. Would we end up with over-tired policemen, would their integrity be compromised and could this lead to corruption concerns? Despite these potential setbacks, I feel they could all be easily dealt with if managed properly. There is in fact a similar system in place for firemen in the UK, a lot of whom have second jobs as a result of their four days on four days off rotas. I’ve worked with some very successfully as security at music festivals, so it can work.