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Professional Security magazine MD Roy Cooper rounds off his visit to The O2 as a guest of head of security Richard Latham. More words and pictures in the February 2018 print issue of the magazine.
For all the talk and worry of terrorism after attacks on public spaces in London in 2017, and the Manchester Arena, what you might call traditional issues still arise, such as theft from the person, typically of phones, which are desirable, portable and easily lifted in a crowd; and easily overlooked by the owner – especially if carried casually in the back pocket. For some years now venues and event stewarding companies alike have worked by themselves and with police against such pick-pocketing.
Also, in a venue holding tens of thousands serving alcohol, inevitably some people may drink too much and make trouble for fellow concert-goers and have to be asked to leave. Yet again, that depends on the artist and their audience. Teenagers may simply run out of charge on their phone and be distraught because they need to ring home. Hence Richard spoke of a ‘bespoke customer service’, and told a story of a recent concert when, to cut the story short, Security told a couple that they had to leave. The response team duly approached the scene, and took the couple out, after a manager had confirmed that they would have to leave. Even people being thrown out merit the same customer service. They were allowed to go out at their own pace, to preserve their dignity. And when out, Richard recalled, the ejected man shook hands with the response team.
Echoes of 2012
To sum up, I left with a sense of how far The O2 has come in security terms since our May 2000 article, when we featured what was then the Millennium Dome (remember that?!) and its then contractor G4S – in the days when it was still called Group 4, before the merger with Securicor; but then the security threat has come a long way also, since the millennium. I saw echoes of London 2012 in the signage, that seeks to nudge the visitor to have a safe ‘customer journey’, whereby every fits; signage with security and crowd safety and having a good experience, getting what you want in good time – a bite to eat beforehand, and a smooth passage out the venue and to the Tube station and home afterwards. Richard spoke of The O2’s security as the best in Europe, and to that I would only say that to appreciate it you should go there.
Professional Security stayed inside The O2 to eat after meeting Richard and it got busy with Steps fans on their night out. We left well after dark and sure enough the layers of security were there; such as the members of staff with ‘customer safety’ on their back. Our last question to Richard had been a personal one; how he liked working in event security; the glamour of working for a landmark name? Probably not as glamorous as people might think, he replied. It was telling that he answered in terms of people: “I have a fantastic security team, brilliant managers that work for me, and excellent suppliers,” and by doing really good security they allow people to have an unforgettable experience; and want to come back another day, or another night.
For The O2’s bag search policy and advice to visitors, visit https://www.theo2.co.uk/visit-us/security.
The O2 and a recent Project Servator deployment: http://www.professionalsecurity.co.uk/news/interviews/the-o2-and-servator/.