Q&A with Malcolm Tarbitt - ICSS Executive Director

EDITQ&A withMalcolmTarbitt (Executive Director – Safety and Security, International Centre for Sport Security)

MEI sits down with Malcolm Tarbitt from the International Centre for Sport Security, new members of the Major Events Network.


Tell us a bit about yourself Malcolm and your experience working in major sporting events?

As Executive Director of Safety and Security at the ICSS, I’ve played various key roles in major sporting events, law enforcement and the security industry for over 30 years, securing numerous high-profile international events including the FIFA World Cup, FIFA Confederations Cup, ICC World Cup, Arab Games, as well as advising on security for a number of major sporting event bids at an international and Olympic level.

Throughout my career, I’ve also led various security design and security peer reviews for various sport facilities, as well as performing numerous safety and security assessments for major sporting events around the world.

In my current role as Executive Director of Safety and Security at the ICSS, I oversee the strategic positioning and management of the Safety and Security Directorate and the delivery of the ICSS’s ongoing sport safety and security work with major sporting events, sport organisations and large scale sport facilities.

Why did you decide to join the ICSS? Can you tell us about some of the projects you are working on at the moment?

As a globally-renowned and respected leader in the field of sport safety, security and integrity, the decision to join the ICSS was an easy one as it is one of the only organisations in the world that works with the entire spectrum of organisations who are involved with safeguarding major sporting eventse.g sport, law enforcement agencies, governments and private security.

The ICSS has the potential to create a globally recognised approach to ensuring the safety and security of sport, and I share that passion too.  It would be a tremendous legacy for me to be a part of a team that enhanced global knowledge in this field, whilst minimising risk and cost for stakeholders.

From advising on event bidding and hosting to venue design and event master planning, our international experts provide cutting-edge advice on the latest trends and techniques in sport safety and security whilst  also delivering threat and risk assessments, operational planning and implementation, as well as advanced training and education for safety and security professionals.

Some of the projects the ICSS Safety and Security team are working on include technical peer reviews and security design services for several top international sports venues in the Middle East and Europe, as well as workshops with the Russian Football Professional League, Asian Football Confederation and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.

Alongside our core work in safety and security, we also partner with organisations like the European Stadium and Safety Management Association to share our expertise throughout the sports community.

What are the main lessons you’ve learnt about the major event industry whilst working at the ICSS?

At the ICSS, we have recognised that there is a clear need to apply a more standardised and international approach to sport safety and security – whether it’ssecuring a major event or when planning or designing a major sport facility.

When it comes to planning safety and security, we encourage any event or venue to appoint the security design consultant from the very beginning of the initiation phase, along with the operator before any architect has been approached.  All too often at the moment, venue owners and architects include security at the later stages of the design and planning process which affects the quality, cost-effectiveness and overall operations.

From a training and education perspective, we’ve also noticed a clear gap developing between the current skill set and knowledge of security staff being employed by major sport events and what is now required to secure an event.

At the moment, the majority of security staff are usually employed on a part-time, casual basis with unsteady hours and challenging wages resulting in high turnover rates. And with the growing influence of technology in sport, evolving threats and increasing risks of diverse nature, the challenges of training and developing a skilled security workforce will continue to increase.

With this in mind, one of the main lessons for sport over the next few years will be the need to professionalise security staff and ensure proper training and education between sports and major event organisers.

What will the MEI and how will it add value to the ICSS’s current work?

As one of the leading international sport business services platforms, Major Events International (MEI) will allow the ICSS to access and take advantage of new business opportunities related to the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup, as well as other major sporting events around the world.

We believe that global partnerships with leading organisations inside and outside sport will enable the ICSS to share best practice and expertise, as well as safeguard sport.

MEI offers us a platform that allows the ICSS and its international sport safety, security and integrity experts to be connected and build stronger relationships with event organisers so we can better understand what they really need and how we can support them better.

By joining the MEI Major Events Professional Membership group in a leadership role and as a member of the Safety, Security and Resilience Steering Group, the ICSS can continue to play a role in helping major event organisers to protect themselves from the growing and constantly evolving threats that now face sport.

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