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A steward's eye view on event security

G4S Secure Solutions (UK And Ireland) : 21 August, 2009  (Technical Article)
G4S provides an interesting insight into the lengths they have to go to in order to maintain peace and order at major events from confiscating smuggled absinthe to spotting fake celebrities
The following revelations are drawn from a series of in-depth interviews with G4S Events' security and stewarding staff about incidents they have witnessed over the last year at some of the country's largest events:

Offensive weapons - A visitor to a major summer music festival was caught with a pair of stiletto heels sharpened into knife blades. During a routine bag search a G4S Events' employee noticed a pair of high heeled shoes that looked out of place in the list of essential items for a muddy festival site. The individual was immediately handed over to the police for questioning.

Hardcore fans of one heavy metal band were perturbed to find they had to check their spiked piercings and chains into the cloakroom at one of UK's leading concert venues, as the heavy metal arsenal of body adornments could have been used as offensive weapons. Some revellers appear blind to the security risks posed by items they wish to bring into a festival. One visitor to a festival had to be reprimanded for attempting to bring an axe into the festival to 'fix his tent pegs.'

Mark Hamilton, managing director, G4S Events: "Event goers should carefully check what they are permitted to bring into an event, or risk having items confiscated. The safety and security of visitors is an absolute priority for event organisers and it is a shame that a small minority persistently fail to act appropriately. G4S's security and stewarding staff are trained to handle every eventually and are regularly called upon to safeguard the health and safety of thousands of Britons attending events across the UK each year."

Fake celebrities - From Jordan's other sister, to fake sheikhs and the Queen's fourth son, some event goers will try any 'don't you know who I am' excuse to try and secure entry past G4S Events' security staff to restricted backstage and VIP areas at concerts and festivals. One enterprising reveller thought they would be granted admittance backstage at a Britney Spears concert by claiming to be the cousin of Bez of the Happy Mondays.

The perils of fence jumping - Festival goers attempting to sneak their way into events without paying should be aware of the hazards of this fruitless activity. At one festival a number of music lovers tried to tunnel under a fence at a point revellers inside the venue were using as an alfresco toilet. The music fans found themselves soaking wet and summarily removed by security from the festival.

Beware fake ticket scams - At several festivals, fans are tempted into buying unofficial merchandise from roadside stalls or unlicensed vendors on the way to a venue. Individuals have been scammed into buying laminated passes that also featured a map of venues and set listings. However, revellers often find these passes are fakes, with the set listings featuring bands that had never even been booked.

Many festival goers think they are being sneaky by wearing a lanyard and fluorescent jacket to give the illusion they are official contractors. One group of festival goers had travelled all the way from Inverness to attend a festival in Staffordshire without tickets, armed just with a set of security vests. Spotted immediately as fakes, the group tried to protest their innocence to security until it was pointed out that their jackets were glowing day-glow under UV lights and were covered in slogans from the last rave they attended.

Hidden alcohol - One of the favourite tricks of revellers and most easily foiled scams by G4S Events' staff is the attempt to smuggle absinthe in a bottle of mouthwash. While revellers believe officers will be fooled by the bright green colour, officers have confiscated hundreds of bottles from events in the last year. One music fan tried to hide vodka in a bottle of saline solution for his 'piercing,' but was rumbled when eagle eyed staff spotted his diamond studs were clip-ons.

Nude crowd surfing - G4S Events staff have also been called into action to protect the dignity of hundreds of festival goers in the last year. Revellers have thought it humorous to set their friends crowd surfing and then pull off their clothes, leaving them nude in front of some of the world's biggest music stages and television cameras. G4S is advising crowd surfers to keep tight hold of their clothes lest they lose their modesty in front of thousands of strangers.
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