It’s inevitable when dealing with people that things can be a bit unpredictable. We’re all individuals after all, responding to different situations in a variety of ways. It’s something our customer service reps remind themselves of every day when meeting members of the public, out and about travelling with MetroLink or Blackpool Trams for example.
But what makes for a good experience when helping keep the public safe and secure, whilst safeguarding staff and property? It’s simple really. You need a plan. When you’ve got a plan, you can then prepare for the unexpected and you’re more likely to be able to anticipate it.
So how do you go about planning your event security needs? Here are our eight top tips to think about:
Research: we supply security staff for transport providers taking fans to and from football matches at Old Trafford and The Etihad, cricket matches at Lancashire’s ground, gigs and other events where there are going to be thousands of people, like the Olympic homecoming in 2012 or Blackpool Illuminations. We know to take time to put a calendar together that highlights the dates and times of all the football matches, cricket matches, festivals, gigs and concerts that are going to crop up in the forthcoming year. You might not need to attend all of them but it’s good to have a heads up. Don’t forget timings will shift throughout the year, for example for cup matches!
Drill into the detail: for each event check out the exact timings and likely volume of attendees. If there’s any information available about how people are travelling and where from that’s helpful too. That way it’s easier to predict pinch points when you could have a large volume of people in one location, such as a station, or clashes where two different events are on at once
Plan your kit: you might need to think about barriers for queuing systems, torches to help guide people at night, as well as a megaphone if you’re needing to communicate with lots of people.
Resource planning: once you know the number of events you’re being asked to support you can start to plan how many customer support and security staff you’ll need and how you’re going to supervise and co-ordinate their activities to deliver an effective service. You may need to recruit up more people, which takes time, so it’s good to plan this early
Training: this can take a number of forms, but making sure your staff are properly trained will enable them to perform at their best, support them in diffusing potentially challenging situations and gather you some brownie points from the public. We put all our staff through Welcome Host training and courses to deal effectively with challenging situations (the majority of our team are ex-police or forces so are already well versed in this). We also arrange Security Industry Authority training for key staff. We’ll then ensure the team have specific training needed by different companies we work with – for example, trackside training and counter terrorist training for MetroLink. Always train more of your team than you’re actually going to use, so you’ve got back up if needed
Communication: you can’t do too much of this. Primarily with the in-house supervisor to make sure we understand what they need at any one time, and then close communication with staff on the ground to ensure they are aware of any issues, for example around antisocial behaviour. You are then in a position to relay back any problems to a central control to act upon them. Equally important is making sure you’re keeping members of the public well informed, whilst having a bit of a laugh and a joke with them.
Contingency: do some scenario planning of what unexpected things could crop up and try and plan what you’d do, for example in the event of a major incident, to make sure you can support your customers
Refine, refine, refine: no plan is going to work for the whole year without refinement. Don’t forget to do a debrief after each event to learn the lessons for the future – the good, the bad and the ugly. And then plough the learnings back into your plan to that you’re always improving the service you provide.
Peter Giles is Chief Executive Officer of Palladium Associates. For 30 years, Peter worked with Greater Manchester Police (“GMP”) as Detective Chief Inspector with GMP Major Incidents Team. He has been a nationally registered Senior Investigating Officer (“SIO”) in Major Incidents, and completed the National Counter Corruption SIO’s course whilst head of the GMP Counter Corruption Unit.
Do you want to have a chat about how we could help support your customer service and security requirements? Why not get in touch.