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A journalist with 13 years of experience on trade publications covering construction, local government, property, pubs, and transport.
July 19, 2017

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Event security: How to keep your venue safe

Tom Sutton-Roberts, the general manager of London entertainment venue, Troxy, discusses the plight of grassroots venues and explores the importance of event security in keeping gig-goers safe.

In the wake of recent terror attacks, venue security has never been more paramount. This coupled with the increase in venue closures has led to a sense of sadness within the industry, however in times like this we must remember the positives; the provision of safe places with security, medics on standby, regulated drink sales and curfews.

When Fabric was forced to close in September 2016 it was a decision made in the name of the war on drugs, with Islington Council, supported by the Metropolitan Police, moving swiftly after the deaths of two clubbers there in the space of nine months.

Club closures

Closing venues like Fabric, which thankfully was reprieved, will not stop clubbers taking drugs. While Fabric survived, there is a long and depressing list of London venues that have closed in the past decade – half of the capital’s clubs have shut in that time.

Make no mistake, this situation is a threat to London’s status as a world-class culture hub with a 24-hour nightlife. When the Night Tube service was launched there was great excitement, but you wonder where all these trains will be taking people in a few years’ time.

When these venues close, it’s not simply a case of replacing them with something else. Fabric, along with countless other clubs, has its own rich history and identity, something you can’t just replicate somewhere else.

Avoiding licensing issues

There are steps venues can take to avoid falling foul of the licensing committees. We work as closely as we possibly can with the local authority and the Metropolitan Police because dialogue and sharing ideas is a much more healthy approach than clashing over regulations.

I’m proud of what we achieve at Troxy every day. We provide a safe, secure venue in the heart of one of the world’s biggest and most vibrant cities which helps people create new experiences, discover new music, create new memories and simply live life.

When it comes to venue security, the tragic bombing at Manchester Arena caused most venues to reflect and review their security measures.

Even before then we had taken steps – along with other major venues and festivals – to put counter-terrorism measures front and centre of our security policies.

Strong police relationship

Our relationship with The Met is strong, and we have ongoing conversations with them which includes swapping information before and after events. This allows us to be kept in the loop with regards to the very latest security information and flag up any events the police might have concerns about.

The police offer a great service in the form of Project Griffin – their counter-terrorism training programme, something we’ve put our entire senior management team through. It’s free and is aimed at deterring and detecting not just terrorist activity, but crime as well.

We work hard to identify potential problems before they might arrive, and we’re mindful when liaising with promoters who want to bring artists or shows to Troxy that there might be potential risks.

Bringing venues closer together

However, amidst all the sadness that these tragic events created, events such as venue closures or terror attacks have helped make our industry stronger. These horrific events have brought venues closer and helped created a greater sense of community as the industry pulls together to support one another and ensure everyone who steps through our doors is kept as safe as possible.

We can’t speak for other venues, but this heightened threat level has ensured we’re constantly reviewing our security measures to make certain they match the heightened threats.

The events industry is brimming with innovation, creativity and is always pushing boundaries to enhance the experience for artists and guests. I do believe other industries can learn from what this industry achieves every year. Our practices around entry and exit, security and safety are constantly evolving.

At Troxy we’re used to holding multiple shows in one week, all of which present different challenges. From a sold-out drag night to a rock gig, we host events of all shapes and sizes and approach each of them with the same vigilance and care.

In the end, it’s all about the people who come through our doors. We want them to have an incredible night and create great memories that will stay with them forever, but we must also ensure we create a safe, problem-free experience as well.

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