The utterly shocking scenes of rioting that erupted on the streets of Britain last month might seem safely removed from the world of events and exhibitions, but the uproar and unprecedented outbreaks of lawlessness have raised the spectre of an escalation of anarchic breaches of security that could cast a whole new perspective on the security of events and venues.
To see Birmingham, Manchester and London under siege certainly does the UK’s image no good – creating yet another headache for teams vying to attract large-scale international events to this country. It’s a task that is difficult enough without the doubts raised by the sight of masked law breakers smashing shop windows and making off with their contents.
But it is the logistics of individual events that also have the potential to be severely affected by the August riots. For organisations like our own that work on high-profile events such as the Conservative Party Conference, where security is already a major consideration, the implications of potential social unrest joining the standard terrorist threat is simply staggering.
The prospect of a baying mob attacking an event has suddenly become a consideration – if nothing more substantial at this stage – that organisers may now need to factor in. The kinds of protests that we have experienced, and coped with fairly easily at events that have attracted the attention of peace activists and animal rights campaigners, could pale into insignificance compared with the displays of determined disregard for authority, property and the law that plagued Britain’s high streets last month.
With the rise of social media, the ability to assemble a malicious mob to hijack a peaceful protest is within the grasp of any semi-determined troublemaker and could place major events in the firing line of lawbreakers.
The failure to curb recurrent lawless outbreaks on this scale – if rioters chose major events as a target rather than shops – would spell nothing short of a decimation of the events industry. Let’s hope the government really have dealt firmly enough with the rioters to prevent this nightmare ever becoming a reality.
– Andrew Manby, Director of conference services provider, Joe Manby.
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