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The recent Transec conference at London Olympia heard from Dave Steele, the former Met and Hampshire Police officer now the operations manager of the annual Isle of Wight festival near Newport, that organised crime gangs are a problem – not just at the Island event each September – seeking to steal mobiles from crowds where they are at their most dense, for instance around stages.
For example, Northumbria Police ahead of the Kasabian concert at Newcastle Metro Radio Arena on the evening of Thursday, December 11, 2014 warned of such thefts at previous concerts by the Leicester rockers.
In the December 2013 and April 2014 print issues of Professional Security magazine, we featured the event security and crowd management contractors Showsec, whose work at such large events such as Download includes work with police against phone theft; and theft from tents, another perennial problem at such temporary venues, where tens of thousands of people may camp for a weekend.
Whether the London 2012 Olympics, or the more regular sporting occasions at Wembley, the Wimbledon tennis fortnight, or royal occasions such as the Queen’s jubilee also in 2012, or new year’s celebrations in London, the UK has a reputation for putting on large events safely, largely stewarded by the private sector. Likewise after decades of hooliganism and under-investment in sports stadia that led to the Bradford stadium fire of 1985, Heysel, and the Hillsborough tragedy at the FA Cup Final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989, the UK can point to football and other mass spectator sport stadia that are if anything more secure and safe than the surrounds and equivalent mass gatherings in town and city centres.
Unlike other parts of the UK economy, the event sector has been booming, and significantly for non-event security people, hotels, shopping centres and private-owned spaces such as Broadgate in central London have put on events with success – whether ice rinks in winter (pictured), or open-air big screens to watch World Cup football in the summer of 2014, which require stewarding and security for crime prevention and safety reasons.