FEATURE: Safe from Harm: Why We Need to Increase Security at Music Venues




Safe from Harm


PHOTO CREDIT: @josephtpearson/Unsplash

Why We Need to Increase Security at Music Venues


ALTHOUGH the atrocious attack at the Manchester Arena…


 IN THIS PHOTO: Martyn Hett (right) was among the twenty-three people who died as a result of the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena on 22nd May, 2017/PHOTO CREDIT: @martynhett

happened two years ago, the reverberations and smoke remains. Twenty-three people died in the attack of 22nd May, 2017 and it left scores injured. It was a horrible thing to see happen and, out of nowhere, a peaceful concert (fans were there to see Ariana Grande) turned to chaos. I remember hearing the story break and following the developments. It was an enormous shock to see a suicide bomber enter the foyer of the venue and create a moment of sheer madness. Apart from the dead and immured, questions were raised. There is not a lot anyone could have done in that situation regarding the attacker and what he did. He walked in to the venue and, in this very quick moment surrounded by people, detonated an explosive. It is understandable that, in the wake of the tragedy, people asked whether more could have been done. How did this happen and why did it happen? Unfortunately, one can never prevent every horrific event from occurring but, recently, there have been calls for greater security at venues. This BBC article explains how there is movement/call for great action:

A former National Counter Terrorism Co-ordinator has told the BBC the government is not doing enough to ensure that venues are secure.

Nick Aldworth has warned new legislation is needed to reduce the impact of any future attack.

He is supporting a campaign for more rigorous checks at venues, under the name Martyn's Law, after Martyn Hett, a victim of the Manchester Arena attack.

IN THIS PHOTO: Ariana Grande/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images 

He said such a law could have prevented the spate of attacks in the UK in 2017.

At the time, Mr Aldworth was a Metropolitan Police chief superintendent in charge of keeping Londoners safe.

"People died on my watch when I was responsible for trying to keep London and, more subsequently, the UK secure," he said.

At the moment, venues such as theatres, cinemas, and concert halls do not have any legal obligation to put counter terrorism security in place, or to plan for what they would do in the event of an attack.

"I think that without being specific - because there are coroners' inquests under way at the moment - I think there are definitely some places that could have benefitted from some infrastructure," Mr Aldworth continued.

"But one of the things I was told after one of the attacks by a survivor... was she was in a restaurant and nobody knew what to do."

Many places do have bag checks and security screening but Mr Aldworth said it was not the case everywhere, and that some venues were "reckless and negligent".

Responding to the calls for Martyn's Law, security minister Ben Wallace said: "Going to concerts, exhibitions, shopping centres, watching sport and other events are part of the fabric of life, things that should be enjoyed without fear”.

Through the years, there have been few wide-scale tragedies such as the attack in Manchester. An attack at the Bataclan in 2015 left many dead and, again, it would have been hard to detect attackers.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @ev/Unsplash

That said, there were questions raised suggesting security was not tight and vigilant enough. Even if we are talking about smaller attacks or sexual assault, in areas where there are hundred/thousands of people, ensuring there is more security is key. In the cases of the Manchester Arena and Bataclan, perhaps having bag searches at the very front of the venue would have deterred attacks and any chance of a tragedy happening. It sounds quite strict and severe but, with that barrier being placed in the street, as it were, you sort of reduce the chance of anything happening. I know that sounds simplistic but these tragedies occurred because the attackers were able to get into the venues and mingle with the crowds. It might be unfeasible to impose strict and heightened security checks at all venues but, in terms of the large arenas, there does need to be this initiative. One might say that, if there was this imposing and very present vision of security, it might make people more nervous; like something was about to happen or they should be worried. I do agree that, if we go too far, it does give this sort of rather daunting impression but, with people still scared to attend big gigs through fear of attack, increasing security and bringing in new guidelines is a good thing. Fortunately, we do not experience attacks that often at venues but, on a smaller scale, there are cases of violence and assault.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @yvettedewit/Unsplash 

Music should be a safe space and, at concerts, we should be able to attend without worrying about trouble and disruption. It is hard to police so many people and keep everything safe but, in order to make venues safer and create a feeling of safety, action does need to take place. In the wake of the attacks in 2015 and 2017, police forces and venues pledged to step up security and make things safer. There has been improvements but, as the report at the top of this article suggests, there is this vulnerability and nervousness that lingers. I have also heard about cases of sexual assault at venues. We assume security is needed, primarily, to avoid major catastrophes but, on a simpler level, there are incidences where women are being assaulted and attacked. Again, it might not be the easiest thing to eradicate but there are too many cases where women are being made to feel unsafe. Manchester is the first city to sign up Martyn's Law and it will mean, going forward, there are tighter checks at venues. Whether it is increased intelligence surveillance or increased C.C.T.V. Maybe there will be more security guards and police at venues or simple bag checks at the entrance to venues – all of this will make a big difference. Although there are fewer attacks at outdoor events, the same sort of measures there are needed, I think. I am not surprised Manchester has signed up and is leading the way.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @5tep5/Unsplash

I am not saying that because of the Arena attack in 2017 but (because) there is this proactive and conscientious nature. It is about time and, with our Government not doing enough, let’s hope this example leads to change. I think, as we all become more anxious and unsure, having counter-terrorism officers and checks put in place will make us all feel safer and less worried. We all, essentially, want to enjoy the music and come together as people. If we all have to look over our shoulders or forsake gigs because of attacks, that creates a really worrying situation. It is not just music events that will benefit from the new measures: theatres, smaller spaces and cinemas are also vulnerable. We remember those killed and injured in Manchester (and other attacks) and the right thing to do is honour them and ensure such awful events do not happen again. If we can make venues and public spaces feel secure and tight then that would provide peace of mind. I know it is not possible to avoid every incident and accident but, by making a concerted effort and promising greater security, it will definitely make a difference. Largely, luckily, venues are safe spaces but it only takes one attack to rock the foundations and create a huge setback! Let’s hope that does not happen and, in the meantime, these new calls will (one hopes) provoke venues and public spaces throughout the U.K. to think hard and promise increased protection. Ensuring we are all safe from harm is paramount and I, like so many people, know that the safety of gig-goers and the general public is…  


 PHOTO CREDIT: @lifesimplyrocks/Unsplash

THE most important thing.