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The grim reality of the security industry

Its no lie to anyone that knows me that I’m not big or strong, so it may shock people to know that I used to work in the security industry, I wasn’t exactly on the door at your local club I was a “event steward” but it comes under the same umbrella, its all run by the same people.

I’m not going to be naming any companies or specific people, I won’t be calling out any events in particular I don’t want this to cause any trouble for me. I will be telling some true experiences I’ve had and explaining just how unsafe some events really are.

Firstly, you need to understand that event security is a deterrent, its meant to make the public feel safe and to make trouble makers think twice. Yes, if there’s a fight or someone decides to try pocket a few phones at a gig security will sort it, But the reality is that during something major, something life threating, staff are told to leave their post and evacuate exactly the same as the public would. Nothing against staff who leave their posts in this situation, I would do the same, a minimum wage job isn’t something I’m putting my life on the line for. But that’s just it at almost all major events there are no staff whose job is to run into dangerous situations, any attacker just has free reign until the police show up.

I’ve worked roadblocks at lots of high profile events in London, roads are shut off for big races with thousands of participants and countless spectators, and we have been understaffed every single time often having not enough staff or sometimes no staff on a roadblock. Now obviously if a vehicle is speeding towards you with no intent on stopping get out the way, but then you can move cones signs or anything to hand into its path to try and slow it down and the more of you there are the more successful this will be, and if the vehicle gets on the course radio it through to control and they will put into action the evacuation of the course and deployment of police. So, when I’m put on a roadblock with no radio and the next road along has no one manning it what’s to stop someone driving onto the course and causing devastation.

An event having enough staff doesn’t automatically mean your safe however. Security used to have a pretty bad rep in the UK, in the 80s bouncers would have no shame in bashing people about and regularly taking strong drugs. But since the 2000s the industry has had to shake up its look. The SIA badge and training course teaches you how to deal with people verbally and use physical contact and force as a last resort, but the reality is it’s the same people with the same attitudes the reality is nothing has really changed.

Festivals are fun, filling your belly with beer listening to your favourite bands play long into the night, and sure the security might be ramped up more than your average gig to stop dealers and ticket evaders but that’s about as much as they do. I won’t name it but its one of the world’s biggest music festivals and it takes place here in the UK, so you can probably guess what I’m on about. My job here was a gruelling 12 hour night shift in one of the many campsites ensuring everyone was in the right place I had a chair to sit on and had a few snacks to get me through the shift I couldn’t complain to much, from my chair I could see the back of the filed excluding and area of around 10 meters this was the back row of the filed where some large tents obstructed my view, I was working with one other guy he was SIA and matey with the supervisors of the company we had been contracted out to. We didn’t speak much but on first impressions he seemed nice enough

One night a girl who looked to be In her early twenties came into the campsite by herself she was clearly very intoxicated. I didn’t want to risk making her feel paranoid, so I didn’t follow her to her tent I just watched from my chair making sure she didn’t trip or fall and got back to her tent okay. As she approached the end of the filed where she would go out of view behind the large tents my colleague stood up from his chair and said, “she looked alright didn’t she, better make sure she’s okay” and began to head off in her direction. I was shocked, I didn’t know what to do or say I’m ashamed to say I just sat there till he got back about ten minutes later and although I’m almost certain nothing happened ill never know for sure. But even if I was sure something had happened who do I tell, he would know it was me and the supervisors where his mates the whole security industry is just bully culture.

I’ve seen bosses shout horrendous abuse at staff for minor things, or things they have not been properly trained in, staff morale is low, people are tired underpaid and treated badly staff don’t care or pay attention they do the very minimum to get to the end of the shift collect their minimum wage pay packet and get home but this is the problem, You need staff who are well paid and are treated well so they want to do the job and will do their very best to prevent incidents from happening.

Now I’ve experienced and witnessed some shocking said and done by staff, from staff talking about and doing drugs on shift, drinking on shift and male staff talking about female staff members and female members of the public in derogatory ways. However, my worst experience came thanks to the supervisors.

During the summer of 2016 I was working at a long-distance cycling event in London, my area was by Kingston bridge, crowds had gathered and as the cyclists began to pass through there was almost a party atmosphere, this however came to a very abrupt very serial end. A man who looked to be in his late 40s had come of his bike me and several other stewards came to help along with some members of the public, he was however unconscious and unresponsive. Has someone began to administer CPR I gave my phone to another steward to call an ambulance and I began to direct the other riders around the incident.

While doing this me and the other stewards where on our radios attempting to get the control room to send the course paramedic, however they kept denying us the course ambulance instructing us to phone for an ambulance ignoring the fact we had already done this. The course paramedic could have reached us in a matter of minutes, the ambulance we had phoned for had to et through several roadblocks and large crowds on roads that where temporarily pedestrianised for this event. This meant an ambulance didn’t arrive for around half an hour but by this time it was to late and as they laid a white sheet over the man’s body the reality dawned on me of what was happening.

I’m left feeling unsure how to conclude this, it’s unlikely anyone with any real power will read this and if they did would they take note? Well it’s unlikely in fact from previous experience they are most likely to get angry and splutter a whole host of expletives, but in truth this article isn’t for them its for you the reader to gain an insight to the world behind the high-vis.