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Five top messages from the Green Guide Briefings

Over the last few weeks our Inspectors have been travelling the country on our Green Guide Regional Briefings.  Over 400 people have attended the five sessions we’ve held.  For those unable to attend, here are the top five messages from the briefings:

  1. The most important chapter of the Green Guide is Chapter 1

For those familiar with the previous edition of the Green Guide, it may be easy to dive straight into the detailed chapters in the new sixth edition.  Our advice is don’t miss out chapter 1.  The sixth edition isn’t an updated version, with slight amendments here and there; it’s an entirely rewritten guidance document and should be seen as such.  Chapter 1 includes important points:

  • It is an advisory document for use by competent persons. The Green Guide isn’t for everyone.  It’s for use by people who have sufficient training and experience for its implementation.
  • The Guide applies to the safety of all people present at a sports ground, not just spectators. This includes all staff, players, support teams, etc.  The total number of people in a sports ground must be considered in the calculation of the safe capacity.
  • The Guide is not just for football. Previous editions of the Green Guide have been football focused.  However, we have purposely made the Guide relevant to all sports grounds.
  1. Zone Ex isn’t new

When we were consulting on the new additions to the Green Guide, there was concern about the inclusion of details about Zone Ex – the zone outside the stadium where spectators either arrive or leave via.  Our message is simple: Zone Ex isn’t a new idea.  In the London Olympics in 2012, for example, it was referred to as the Last Mile.  While this area may not be the direct responsibility of the stadium owner, it’s important that all parties – stadium owners, local authorities, police, etc – are involved in the effective management of this zone to ensure that spectators are safe during ingress and egress.

  1. You can deviate from the Green Guide

The Green Guide is a guidance document, not a statutory requirement.  We have spent the last two years working with experts to develop the advice it holds.  However, we know that stadia may want to deviate from what we say, and there’s no problem with that subject to being able to demonstrate that any deviation meets at least the same standard or preferably a higher standard.  Our advice is to keep a list of the deviations, which clearly set out what your deviations are, why you chose to deviate, and details of how the deviations are at least as safe as the advice in the Green Guide.  This may seem like an overly bureaucratic way of working.  However, it’s important to have a written record if something does go wrong.

  1. Annexes and worked examples are available online

The Green Guide is supported by annexes and worked examples which are freely available on the SGSA’s website.  These cover P and S factor questions, guidance on colour vision deficiency, demountable stand checklist and medical room checklist.  We also have worked examples of capacity calculations for football, rugby, cricket and horse racing.

  1. Counter terrorism advice isn’t extensively detailed in the guide

The terrorist attacks in the Stade de France in 2015 and Manchester Arena in 2017 had a significant impact on our updates to the Guide.  10 years ago when the fifth edition was published we weren’t facing the types of threats we do today.  You may be expecting specific, detailed advice on counter terrorism.  While the threats have impacted on a lot of our rewrites, we have purposely not included extensive detail.  The simple reason for this is that the challenges we face change on a regular basis and the sixth edition would already be out of date.  Instead, we are advising people to use the information on the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) website, along with SGSA’s website.

If you haven’t already done so, you can get your copy of the Green Guide at our website.

Terrorism, Technology and Thinking – Key messages for Venue Safety

I had the privilege of being asked to speak at the Public Venue Security and Counter-Terrorism Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, organised by the Bosco Training Institute. The SGSA often gets asked to speak at events around the world and, where we can, we try to do so because getting across the importance of safety on a world stage is a fantastic way to raise the profile of just how far we’ve come on the journey to make live sport safer.

One of the (few) benefits of a long-haul flight is the thinking time it affords you when you aren’t disturbed by phone calls and e-mails and I wanted to share some of my reflections on the main themes of the conference. No doubt these issues will be prevalent in other parts of the world and taken together they show that, despite progress, we cannot become complacent.

Terrorism knows no bounds

We’ve known for a long time that terrorist activity knows no bounds; even more so in the 24/7 digitally connected world that we now live in. However, there are nuances: different regions of the world with differing political climates face different terror threats. It’s important to recognise these cultural and political variations when developing and operating venues or events in different parts of the world and ensure that operational plans recognise unique threats and have embedded appropriate ways of mitigating them.

Sadly, the SGSA has seen first hand around the world what can happen when operational plans for events are not effective. Operational plans are critical but, as Helmuth van Moltke wrote in 1880, “No plan of operations reaches with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main force.” The same applies to spectators at an event and it is critical that systems and procedures are tested and reviewed in the light of experience so that safety can be improved in incremental steps.

Key Message Identifying and sharing good practice and reviewing plans post-event to see where risk could have been further reduced is key.

The Ugly Side of Technology

A key theme that emerged from the conference was the misuse of technology by people intent on causing harm. The acceleration and proliferation of technology has led to some incredible advances in smart stadiums, enabling spectators to truly engage with their sporting icons clubs, and leading to significant improvements in safety. As examples, safety critical information can now be shared quickly via mobile phones and crowd movements can be monitored wirelessly helping to improve the flow of people around a venue.

However, the threat of cyber-crime is significant, and constant vigilance is required and many governmental agencies and private sector companies are dedicated to the pursuit of prevention.

The same principles apply to other technologies such as drones. We saw in 2015 how a drone was used to carry political messaging leading to the outbreak of violence between Serbia and Albania. Drones also pose a payload threat and of course, the threat of physical injury to people within a venue.

Key message Technology will continue to advance – and rightly so – but we must remain open in our thinking as to potential misuse.

Thinking outside of the line

The boundaries of a venue, as defined on a plan or a safety certificate are often the boundary at which legal responsibility for spectators starts and ends for the venue operators. However, there is a moral obligation to ensure that consideration is given to the area beyond this line (which exists only on paper and is not painted on the floor).

Recent terrorist attacks, including that at the Arianna Grande concert in Manchester showed that whilst we can be very good at managing the ingress of people into a venue, we can do more to ensure a safe exit and onward transit.

The new version of the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds, due in October this year, recognises this and offers guidance on this zone that is ‘external’ to the stadium boundary. We call it ‘Zone Ex’.

There are many challenges to ensuring safety in this area, not least of which is that it is unlikely that the venue owner has any legal responsibility for people within it. A multi-disciplinary approach is needed, working across disciplines such as safety, police, stadium management, ambulance and other key stakeholders to ensure that someone has the lead for safety in this area.

Key message Safety doesn’t end at the legal boundary of the stadium so nor should our thinking

ACT Awareness ELearning

ACT Awareness eLearning is a new CT awareness product designed for all UK based companies and organisations.

Counter Terrorism Police are aiming to deliver awareness training to more than a million crowded places workers with the help of a ground-breaking new free of charge e-learning package.

Called ACT Awareness e-Learning, it consists of six primary modules designed to teach staff about the threat to the public from terrorism and how to mitigate it, such as spotting the signs of suspicious behaviour and reacting to a firearms or weapons attack.

The course, which is fully interactive, can be taken at times to suit business needs and will give all those who complete the sections a nationally accredited certificate. The initiative follows on from the successful launch of the industry self-delivery package two years ago. This enabled accredited trainers instead of police officers to deliver counter terrorism workshops.

“This package could save lives,” says the police national coordinator for protective security, Det Chief Supt Scott Wilson.

“Industry specifically requested the development of this product to better equip their staff and help protect communities and businesses.

“All staff working in crowded places – not just those who have a security role – can follow the course and be in a stronger position to help protect themselves, colleagues and the public.

For more information visit NaCTSO.