Focus on 3Cs to carry Britain’s secure events baton

2015110501 mei digest zaun Glasgow Commonwealth Games pic 3 smallWith the All Blacks having defended their Rugby World Cup crown, the major event focus will shift away from the UK for a while.  But India, France and Brazil can all learn from the British experience of organising secure sporting spectaculars, argues Chris Plimley.


The final whistle has just blown on the latest world sporting event successfully staged by the UK – with champions New Zealand retaining their crown and sadly without hosts England even making the knockout stages of the IRB Rugby World Cup.


2015110501 mei digest zaun fencing for the NATO Summit pic 2 small

It followed hot on the heels of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships, where hosts England’s women produced an incredible late comeback to beat world champions and odds-on favourites Holland to land their second European title.


Both ignited the sporting and spectating passion in England and played to our further strengths of staging secure and safe spectaculars – from London 2012 to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and NATO Summit last year and even the annual summer mud-fest that is Glastonbury.

After all, if you mess up on security at a major global event, you’re never going to live it down.


The eyes of the world and the media scrum in 2016 shift first to India for the World Twenty20 cricket cup in March, followed by the Euro2016 football championships in France for a month from 10 June and then to Brazil for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in August and September.


And if they and other major events organisers in 2016 want to avoid any negative publicity, they must focus on collaboration, communication and consistency.


Early collaboration ensures logistics and planning can be co-ordinated to maximum effect and efficiency. It allows for the identification of the right personnel in the right numbers and gives time for them to be properly vetted, accredited and trained.


With fore-planning, installers can manufacture in good time and devise detailed build schedules to ensure the safest working practices can be maintained even under the most exacting timelines, with work often having to be carried out in the tightest window in the small hours of morning darkness when public transport isn’t running and roads can be briefly closed and diverted.


And that’s where the importance of good communication from the earliest opportunity comes in.


LOCOG and the ODA built and maintained excellent communication throughout with all stakeholders – from athletes to volunteers, spectators to taxpayers, and contractors to media.


Major events, both while they are taking place and in the build-up to them, are always going to disrupt life for some – which will cause some people to complain.


Whether it's diversions and road closures, potentially affecting trade and workers’ commute, or the cost of staging an event – just look at the riots in Brazil before the Football World Cup at the ‘misuse' of public funds as the protesters saw it – some will feel they’ve been negatively affected, abused or their rights have been infringed.


So security contractors need to work closely with event organisers, governments, the police, local councils, residents and the media to ensure potential clash points are known about well in advance, mitigation plans are well understood and the overall greater good is wherever possible an aspiration shared by all.


The third C is for consistency – and that’s where the London organisers could have done better.  London 2012 staged 26 Olympic sports and 20 Paralympic sports across 29 venues in 27 days – the equivalent of 541 concurrent days of sports –multiplying the importance of consistency a hundredfold.


So the late change in plans requested of the security team was significant.  Inconsistency causes rework, waste, extra cost and delay and introduces friction between a tight-knit team that is under collective pressure to deliver to an immovable deadline in the full beam of both media and political headlights.


Stick to your plans – and if you have to change them, do it early, with comprehensive collaboration and complete communication.


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