Ready for duty: How the AEV is preparing for Martyn’s Law

Henry Havis, head of security, ExCeL London, and chair of the AEV Security Working Group explains how the events industry is working together to improve security and prepare for the planned introduction of Protect Duty legislation later this year. 

As chair of the Association of Event Venues (AEV)’s security working group, ExCeL London’s head of security Henry Havis has been working with other security experts to share best practice and prepare for new regulations.
Havis guides EN into the inner working of the security operations at ExCeL. He shields the exact details of what the team of staff are monitoring across the site – and the wider internet – to protect the venue – even on a rare day of no live events.
Havis is chair of the Association of Event Venue’s security working group. Members have said the groups are an invaluable resource to share expertise and best practice to ensure live events are safe for all – whilst behaving proportionately to ensure they are still welcoming.

Shared knowledge
Explaining the working groups Havis says: “The security discipline affects lots of different areas within the events world. So, although a lot of us are security specialists, we also have relevant senior operations people. Some venues may not have security managers, so they may contract that in, but they still sit on the group to understand the different needs and expectations. We’ve got lots of smaller venues as well, who again may not have security heads of security or security managers, but they still want to know what the future holds. They want to know what the current industry is looking at and what they can do to enhance stuff.”

He says one area that knowledge sharing has proved especially beneficial is in highlighting technology that can help identify potential risks.
Havis says: “For example ExCeL might go and work with NEC on a particular project and then we’ll bring back to the working group.
“We’re looking at a lot of technology, what’s out there, what others are using, what we like.
“For example, Dataminr, is a great piece of equipment, which as a platform looks at open-source reporting, and brings it all together for you to be able to see. So, for example, you could type in ExCeL, and you can see what the chatter is about ExCeL. And then you can break that down further.
“We might get a new event and I want to know what’s previously happened with that.”

Technology can help security teams identify previous controversies or security risks in relation to any given event.
“As a group we can look at a piece of technology and say, ‘Okay, this is great’. We’ll go out to training providers, the training guys will come and present a talk about what they can offer for the event industry, specifically security. Sometimes we will work with other working groups as well. For example, with cybersecurity risks, we can work together and that’s very useful.
“There’s a lot going on particularly at the moment in understanding and being prepared for protect duty. There are lots and lots of people out there selling lots and lots of products to say this will make you protect duty safe, but we still don’t know the exact details of what it will contain.”

Protect Duty 
There is currently no legislative requirement for organisations or venues to use anti-terrorism measures at the vast majority of public places, but new Protect Duty laws set to come into force later this year could apply to any venue with a capacity of more than 100 people.
The draft bill was included in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May. The announcement said legislation would introduce new requirements for certain public locations and venues to draw up plans to respond to terrorism.
Whilst the exact ramifications of the new laws are still to be set, Havis says there is no harm in venues and event organisers preparing themselves for what is to come, but they do need reassurance that security advice is reliable, which is where the AEV’s working groups can help.

He says that the events industry can look to the findings of the inquiry to identify security shortcomings in their own operations and prepare plans to cover all eventualities. He adds that there are various online training course that cost little or nothing and can make a huge difference to staff awareness of threats.
He says: “The Protect UK app is in the process of being finished, it’s not finished yet but everyone, every operations executive or member of your security team can have access to it.
“It is very simple, and it lays out generic security requirements, you can pick up the app, start reading through requirements and responses. It is all open source material, and that would be fantastic for everyone. But before that, online courses, Action Counters Terrorism or See, Check and Notify are very valuable training sessions. The government provides the links on YouTube. So they are easy people digest and for everyone to take on-board.”

Whilst the Protect Duty will create legal responsibilities for putting anti-terrorism risk assessments in place, Havis believes every single individual has a personal responsibility to protect our own safety.
He says that it falls to every individual attending or organising an event to raise any concerns with security staff or police – rather than assuming someone else is responsible.

“Because someone is acting suspiciously it does not necessarily mean they are a security risk or terrorism threat, but it might mean they need some kind of support,” he says. “It is always better to raise a concern and be wrong than assume someone else is taking care of it.”

Sunday 22 May marks the 5th anniversary of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, in which 22 people were killed during an Ariana Grande concert. 

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The mother of victim Martyn Hett, Figen Murray, who has campaigned tirelessly for new anti-terrorism laws at large venues, told EN she was optimistic about the legacy of the new Protect Duty set to come into force this year.

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