Skip to main content
27 Jun 2024

In tune with festival best practice: Insights from our Operations Director Vicki Hearn

SafeCrowds Stand: D90
In tune with festival best practice: Insights from our Operations Director Vicki Hearn

From huge productions sprawled across multiple fields and several days, featuring world-famous names, through to one-day urban events – and everything in between – what all music festivals have in common is that people turn up to have a great time, and they need to do that safely.

That’s our starting point for festival security at SAFECROWDS. Obviously we need to look after the commercial interests of the festival organiser, so there is a clear focus on stopping unticketed entry, preventing theft, and protecting both the license and reputation of the event too. But festival organisers have a duty of care to look after everyone on site, and we’re there to help them deliver that duty, while contributing to a fantastic experience for all.

Before the music starts

Festival security begins long before any of the bands even start to warm up, much less begin playing. In fact, we’ve often completed our plans for festivals before all the bands have even been booked!

We begin by getting to know the event: the location, operational processes, crowd volumes, crowd demographics, entry points – these are just a few of the considerations that help us understand where the security risk factors might lie and what is needed from us in terms of skills, services and team numbers.

Where we are responsible for counter terrorism protection, our Threat Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (TVRA) and Vehicle Dynamics Assessment (VDA) services enable us to provide an expert approach to understanding risk, with proportionate recommendations for any hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM) specification, aligned to the identified risk and operational considerations.

Even if our remit is security or stewarding only, risk assessment and familiarity with the site and event is an important part of our approach to informing the security strategy and planning security for the event, in collaboration with the festival organiser, the local authority and the police.

From here we can provide a detailed plan, with an outline of what skills will be deployed where, how we will work with others, and our KPIs.

Entering the event

In a big crowd, even known safety or security threats can easily find a place to hide, so getting security right at entry points is absolutely vital – if there is a threat, it needs to be picked up here.

Our teams are experienced in security and safeguarding, and have also been trained in customer service, first aid and ACT (Action counters terrorism), so they are vigilant, while still focused on the reason why everyone is there (to have a great time!), and operational priorities (smooth crowd flow).

From checking tickets, handing out wristbands and wayfinding, through to bag checks, body searches and K9 drug and expo detection dogs, we can provide a complete security service at festival entry points, ensuring people know their safety is a priority, while welcoming them to the event and treating them with respect. We know that surly, unfriendly or jobsworth behaviours from security teams could spoil the vibe for ticket holders and compromise the reputation of the festival, so our teams are hand-picked and well-trained. That means they know when to escalate things if there is an issue, and whether to bring in support from our supervisors on site.

Often, our teams are there protecting people and contributing to a smooth running event even before festival goers make it to the entry points. We specify, supply and install temporary, semi-permanent and permanent HVM systems, provide traffic management planning and deployment, and deploy stewards and security personnel for the last mile area leading to the festival site, all to ensure people arrive safely and crowds are managed efficiently.

And we’re also on hand to make sure non-ticketholders can’t gain entry by breaching the perimeter, with security teams, which may include K9 dog patrols.


The party atmosphere at festivals makes them a great place to be, but it also comes with safeguarding risk. It’s easy for individuals to become separated from the group, get lost, forget where they’ve pitched their tent, or simply find themselves in a vulnerable position. Our teams are there to help with everything from wayfinding to supporting people who are unwell from the affects of drugs or alcohol, or dealing with threatening or predatory behaviours.

In addition to our stewards and security professionals, we deploy safeguarding teams and medics at festivals, experts who are there specifically to look out for problems and offer support. With clearly labelled uniforms, our safeguarding teams are easy to identify for people who need help, and are also proactive in identifying anyone who looks vulnerable, ill or upset.

Our K9 drug detection teams are also an important part of this aspect of our festivals expertise. Drugs are one of the biggest causes of sickness, vulnerability, mental health crisis and aggressive behaviours at festivals and our drug detection dogs and handlers can be deployed to reduce the risk of drug misuse and dealing on site.

Security centre stage

Those lucky enough to make it to the front of the stage at a festival have the opportunity to enjoy the experience of a lifetime, but the front of stage area can be dangerous too. Our specially trained front of stage pit teams are there to keep people safe in the event of crowd surfing, crowd surges or moshing. They are also on hand to pre-empt potential problems before they begin, by handing out water in hot weather, for example.

Our front of stage pit teams are also there to protect the artist on stage, preventing stage invasions and tackling any anti-social behaviour, such as items being thrown or performances being disrupted.

We also deploy backstage teams to look after the artists, with a remit of preventing any unauthorised backstage access, protecting equipment, and getting the artists safely from A to B on the festival site. If required, we can even provide experienced close protection personnel to protect high profile performers and their entourage.

Response and eviction

If something does go wrong, it’s important that any issues are handled well and promptly. Even if people have caused trouble or behaved badly, our teams have the training and experience needed to de-escalate conflict, physically restrain threats and take action if police intervention is required.

Our teams are integrated and fully briefed, which means we implement protocols for rapid and effective response at the first signs of an issue, whether that’s locking down the site, calling trained personnel to a specific location, or detaining someone until the police arrive.

Response and eviction can be a sensitive element of what we do and physically removing someone is always a last resort, aligned to the policies of the specific event and parameters agreed with the local police force. And, of course, logs are kept of everything we do on site, providing an opportunity for detailed de-briefs and any learning opportunities during event wrap up meetings.

Trust the experts

Around 6.5 million people attend music festivals each year in the UK and all of them go expecting to have a great time and return home safely. Festival sites can sometimes be a hazardous environment – our role at SAFECROWDS is to help both festival organisers and festival goers to navigate those hazards so that every moment hits the right note!


View all Exhibitor News


24-25 September 2024, Olympia Events, London


What's included in your FREE pass?

  • Source the latest products from 300+ global-leading suppliers from across the entire security spectrum
  • Network with over 10,000 high-level security professionals including government, policymakers, c-suite professional, heads of security and many more
  • Engage with our world-class CPD accredited summits and conference programmes
  • Experience exciting live demonstrations and witness the latest security products in action first-hand
  • 1 pass, 2 events your pass gives you free access to International Cyber Expo