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Council of Europe Convention Signed

This week the UK Government has signed the Council of Europe Convention on an integrated safety, security and service approach at football matches and other sports events.  We join 14 other countries across Europe who have signed the convention, including France, Russia and Portugal.

This convention is the only internationally binding instrument to establish an integrated approach based on safety, security and service. It also promotes co-operation between all public and private stakeholders: governments, municipal authorities, police, football authorities and also supporters, in order to provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment at football matches and other sports events, whether it be inside or outside the stadia.

Role of Football Authorities and Football Clubs

The key function and responsibility of the football authorities, in particular the event organiser, is to provide stadia that are safe, secure and welcoming for all participants and spectators. This is a complex and multi-faceted responsibility which European experience evidences is best vested in a designated stadium safety officer.

The establishment of effective national multi-agency co-ordination arrangements, highlighted above, can be crucial in providing a forum in which the football authorities and partner agencies can share perspectives and operating imperatives in order to develop a joint partnership ethos and complementary operating strategies.

The national co-ordination arrangements also provide a platform for the football authorities to consult the police and other partner agencies in determining and refining policies on a range of in-stadia safety, security and service considerations, including: ticketing, sale and consumption of alcohol, pyrotechnics, segregation of rival supporters (inside and on the approaches to and from stadia), entry checks and controls, counter-terrorist measures, and threats posed by organised criminality (for example, counterfeit tickets and the unauthorised sale of tickets through the black market).

Provision within the Convention applicable to the UK Football Authorities.

ARTICLE 5 – Safety, Security and Service in Sports Stadia

The Parties shall encourage their competent agencies to highlight the need for players, coaches or other representatives of participating teams to act in accordance with key sporting principles, such as tolerance, respect and fair play, and recognise that acting in a violent, racist or other provocative manner can have a negative impact on spectator behaviour.

ARTICLE 6 – Safety, Security and Service in Public Places

The Parties undertake to encourage all agencies and stakeholders involved in organising football and other sports related events in public spaces, including the municipal authorities, police, local communities and businesses, supporter representatives, football clubs and national associations, to work together, notably in respect of:
a) assessing risk and preparing appropriate preventative measures designed to minimise disruption and provide reassurance to local communities and businesses, in particular those located in the vicinity of where the event is taking place or public viewing areas; and
b) generating a safe, secure and welcoming environment in public spaces that are designated for supporters to gather before and after the event, or locations in which supporters can be expected to frequent of their own volition, and along transit routes to and from the city and/or to and from stadia.

ARTICLE 8 – Engagement with Supporters and Local Communities

The Parties undertake to encourage all agencies to develop and pursue a policy of pro-active and regular communication with key stakeholders, including supporter representatives and local communities, based on the principles of dialogue, and with aim of generating a partnership ethos and positive co-operation as well as identifying solutions to potential problems.

The Parties undertake to encourage all public and private agencies and other stakeholders, including local communities and supporter representatives, to initiate or participate in multi-agency social, educational, crime prevention and other community projects designed to foster mutual respect and understanding, especially amongst supporters, sports clubs and associations as well as safety and security agencies.

View the full Convention text.

Safety – Recommended Good Practices

Annex A (Safety – Recommended Good Practices) provides a wide range of guidance in respect of stadium safety imperatives designed to assist the football authorities and their safety personnel fulfil their crucial safety obligations.

Extract

G         Football Authorities and Safety

23.       National governing bodies of football, for example football federations and, if different, the relevant league and cup authorities, have an important role to play and a vested interest in making football stadia safe.  Their role may vary across Europe but usually includes stadium licensing and other regulatory responsibilities  In terms of stadium safety management arrangements, the governing bodies should consider how best to ensure consistency in the approach adopted nationwide through the provision of guidance or instructions, for example:

  • model stadium (ground) regulations setting out conditions of entry, behavioural codes of conduct for spectators, prohibited items and other information (see Appendix 16);
  • minimum stadium safety standards and obligations;
  • provision of advisory services for  stadium safety officers;
  • model agreements between stadium safety officers and the police and other emergency services regarding respective roles and responsibilities.

24.       The participation of the governing bodies in the national co-ordination arrangements should provide opportunity to identify and consider the merits of providing other infrastructural and advisory services and ensure that whatever is proposed is consistent with national laws and regulations and in harmony with the national multi-agency safety, security and service strategy.”

Cyber Security for Major Events Guidance

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued guidance on cyber security for major events,  This guide outlines how to incorporate Cyber Risk Management processes into major event planning.

The guidance includes three overarching principles that should define your approach to cyber security:

Add value – your approach to cyber security should contribute to the overall security and success of the event.

Proportionate – the security measures you put in place should be proportionate to the risk.

Aligned – your approach should be agreed and coordinated with key stakeholders.

Alongside this guidance, the NCSC has today published a new blog about Securing Office 365 with Better Configuration which may be of interest.

Reflections on security at future major events

Today, Ken Scott, Head of Inspectorate at the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) spoke at the Host City 2018 conference. Here, he offers his reflections on security at future major events.

Ensuring safe, enjoyable events is at the heart of what we do at the SGSA. This not only means having a safe environment inside a stadium, but also on the way in and out of the ground…something we refer to as Zone Ex in the newly released sixth edition of the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide).

As we have seen in recent years with the attack at Stade de France and at Manchester Arena, areas directly outside an event can be vulnerable ‘soft’ targets. Stadium and event operators can no longer think about the space outside the stadium in isolation. When considering safety, the sum of all parts is critical to creating as safe an environment as possible for everyone at the ground.

Alongside the Zone Ex, sports grounds operators should think about three clear areas for creating a safe environment:

  1. Security. At times there is a need to consider additional security overlays to manage risks at an event, whether it’s enhanced screening/searching, vehicle barriers, etc. At the same time, consideration must also be given to understanding the unintended consequences of these, for examples increased queues and delayed entry into a sports ground.
  2. Safety. The importance of overlay around a sports ground can sometimes impact upon the safe arrival, circulation and egress of spectators. It’s important that considerations are given when planning any security measures to ensure that safety isn’t compromises.
  3. Customer service. The need to balance safety and security against customer experience remembering this should be an enjoyable sporting event is critical. Fans attend a sports ground to watch and enjoy the spectacle – whether it’s football, rugby, athletics, horse racing, etc, everyone is there for the same reason. Engaging with spectators early on can help to reduce some of the unintended consequences of increased security. This could be providing additional entertainment inside the ground to encourage people to arrive early. The days of someone turning up to a stadium 15 minutes before kick off and expect to be in immediately are a thing of the past, so stadiums need to create ‘incentives’ to encourage early arrivals.

Whilst technology has its part to play, we should never lose sight of the important role of venue staff can play in overall safety equation. The most important asset a sports ground has in terms of safety is the staff. Effective and vigilant staff, who provide excellent customer service to those attending an event are a critical element to a safe, enjoyable experience for fans.

There is a risk attached to every event. The only completely safe stadium is an empty one. But there are ways to manage and mitigate risk effectively to create as safe an environment for fans as possible. The guidance provided within the new edition of the Green Guide offers the expert advice to support this aim.