By Chris Kemp
Responding to the raised terror threat is often difficult for arts and events organisations where they do not have a venue or event environment to manage or run. The target of the terrorist is the crowded space environment and to ensure that the maximum devastation is caused and hitting at the very core of our beliefs and values. As such, those working for venues and those supplying services are considered to be ‘front line delivery’ when it comes to counter terrorism initiatives in the arts and entertainment world.
Theatre, dance, opera and other art forms companies are less likely to be prepared for an attack as they firstly rely on the resilience of the venue and event promoter and secondly that they are at arm’s length from those promoting managing and watching (in many cases), and thus are less likely to feel concern as they see themselves as protected by both the detection of threats by hostile reconnaissance before the event and the steps taken to prevent an attack during and after an event.
One main element lacking in many organisations is a resilient business continuity plan and an emergency planning document identifying what to do in an attack by a terrorist organisation. As well as this, a plan is often only a piece of paper and this can prove useless unless it is regularly tested and updated. The business continuity plan and cycle ensure that through careful planning if an incident takes place those affected by it both centrally and peripherally have a plan to ensure that the business continues and is able to survive.
It is clear from our work with festivals and events that many of them are not taking heed of the changing terror environment and they are not putting in place either physical or psychological deterrents. Many are not thinking like the terrorist to identify where an attack may come from. An example of this is the rising profile of behavioural detection at events. Although festivals across Europe are providing behavioural detection either across the site, at entrances or on the periphery, it is clear from the results of our survey that 20% of these events have no behavioural detection at all.
Many of those preferring not to put such measures in place are from venues or countries where they do not see terror as a threat but as we have seen across the past year that every event is a legitimate target for the terrorist. The key to being ready for a terrorist attack is to ensure that your documentation is live and that every risk possible has been thought about and noted in your risk assessment, risk register and event plan. The linkage of these documents is crucial in helping to prevent these atrocities.
Chris Kemp is a Visiting Professor at Edinburgh University and lectures on Event Safety and Security