Theatre Security – So What's Changing?

THEATRE SECURITY - SO WHAT'S CHANGING? Practical tips for a #SAFERtheatre

Krissy Regan SQR

by Krissy Regan, Special Projects Director, SQR Security Solutions Ltd. 

Date Published: 14 August 2017

Over the past 18 months the training needs of theatres and entertainment venues has changed. Why is this?  Staff, management and ticket holder’s perceptions have changed based on a number of different but connected issues. 

People have a much higher awareness now of security challenges in the UK and expect venues to take responsibility for their safety and security.  The economy means people have less cash to spend on luxury’s like entertainment and expect good service, and if they don’t get it they use social media to complain, therefore how staff react and deal with customers has a positive or negative impact on the experience of visitors. 

Frontline customer facing staff are the first to experience a variety of risks because they are the first people to see, notice or confront a difficult situation, which can lead to potentially harmful outcomes for the individual, management and the venue.  In the current environment, it is vital for everyone working in the entertainment sector to have a solid knowledge and practical experience of health, safety and security risks, which is why SQR developed a unique and bespoke training programme for theatres and visitor attractions based on customer service, security awareness, conflict management and self-defence. To date our training has been successfully implemented at Nimax group, Buckingham Palace, and Time Warner to name a few so here are our top tips for a #SAFERtheatre.

Preparation is key. Train staff using practical scenarios

As with first aid training, security training can provide a level of reassurance to staff and management that should something happen, staff are equipped to keep themselves and visitors safe until the emergency services arrive. 

People often expect security checks and for Security to be on hand to deal with threats - they know when checks are not being carried out professionally. 

Create scenarios and role plays to put staff into a realistic encounter and see how they respond to specific challenges posed by their role or the location in which they work.  Staff appreciate the skills and experience that this provides and the training is transferrable to everyday life.

Recognise that each venue and each show is unique

Whilst a Peppa Pig show for families may seem innocuous, we saw in Manchester that parents and children were not excluded from violent terrorism.  Not to mention the logistical challenges of push chairs, baby change and different catering requirements all which can create stress and conflict for visitors and staff. 

A cast member might bring a level of threat to the show or venue merely by their popularity or heritage.  This will then carry higher risks which need to be assessed and managed differently, even for a short period. 

We saw Nimax group embrace a new kind of security with the opening of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for 3 reasons: to protect the integrity and secrets of the show, to avoid the kind of risks that occurred in Paris and to ensure cast, crew and audience feel safe and secure during their visit. 

CCTV Active Monitoring

We’ve seen numerous examples recently where CCTV was used to spot suspicious activity including scoping of box offices, trying to access stage doors using everyday tools and preventing drug activity in theatre doorways. 

Active monitoring of CCTV can be set up relatively easily and viewed remotely by trained professionals. It plays a crucial role in spotting and deterring crime. Professionally managed CCTV monitoring is a proactive step in the prevention of crime as well as providing valuable evidence to law enforcement agencies and keeping the venue and staff safe.

Bag and Body Checks

People expect to be searched.  But how many of us have been to a show, concert or venue where our bags are checked but not our bodies or the contents of our water bottles?  I may wish to bring my bag of sweets into the theatre, do you really care? What we should be caring more about are the common threats faced by us today - knife crime and acid. 

Trained staff, search wands and more rigorous searching practices enhance the feeling of security and reduces the risks of any incidents that may be caused by weapons or acid.  Staff have a much better chance to react quickly to these threats rather than waiting until the threat has entered inside the venue. 

Create and practise a Lock Down Procedure

A lockdown procedure or invacuation is the opposite of an evacuation.  Having a robust and automated and practised lockdown procedure in the event of an incident nearby or outside the venue has 2 main benefits. 

  1. Buys precious time for staff and visitors to retreat to a safe place whilst waiting for the emergency services to arrive.
  2. Prevents the threat from easily entering the building which can save lives.

We know that these measures make a difference to people.  It’s not always possible to have a full-time security team in place for all shows, we know that, we focus on staff who are on the frontline and can make the difference.  After all, safety and security is everyone’s responsibility. 

                                             

SQR are proud to sponsor this year’s Off Stage Conference in October. During the conference we will lead a Staff Security Awareness session, introducing some of the topics covered by our training.  If you would like to find out more about these topics and how you can implement a programme for your venue than please email info@sqrgroup.com.  

To find out more about UK Theatre's Frontline and Off Stage conferences click here.

  

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