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Global Crowd Management Alliance launched

The Global Crowd Management Alliance (GCMA), a not-for profit group bringing together crowd managers, organisations, businesses and academics, has officially launched.

Spearheaded by the United Kingdom Crowd Management Association (UKCMA), the Event Safety Alliance (ESA) and Event Safety Alliance Canada (ESAC), the initiative will endeavour to “promote reasonable crowd management and crowd safety practices worldwide”, with the aim of becoming a globally recognised body of knowledge for professional crowd managers.

GCMA will be chaired by Gentian Events founder Eric Stuart and has board members from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the US, with advocates spanning more than 15 countries on five continents.

This organisation will enable us to expand the opportunities for sharing knowledge and experience that will help keep people safe

“This organisation will enable us to expand the opportunities for sharing knowledge and experience that will help keep people safe,” says Stuart.

“Whilst crowd plans are sometimes complex and need specialist knowledge, basic safety principles can be applied to many locations where crowds gather, and those principles can often be learnt and implemented at little cost.

“Most importantly, we should never forget that crowds are made up of people who expect to enjoy a pleasant day or evening out, then return home safely. Good crowd management can help achieve that simple, fundamental goal.”

Stuart, who also chairs the UKCMA, emphasises GCMA’s commitment to diversity in both leadership and membership.

“We welcome everyone who wishes to enhance crowd safety standards across the globe, and who supports GCMA’s goals to Educate, Advocate and Motivate crowd management professionals,” he says.

The organisation stresses that, with the mass exodus of experienced workers from the sector during the pandemic, training and education is more important than ever.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, many event professionals have, quite logically, focused on infection mitigation measures so events and venues can reopen safely,” says Steve Adelman, GCMA’s deputy chair and VP of the ESA. “But crowds require much more than vaccine passports and face coverings. From catastrophic occurrences like armed attacks to more routine risks such as overcrowding, trip hazards, and inadequate wayfinding signage, crowd management remains an essential issue for everyone involved with live events.

“I am thrilled that the Global Crowd Management Alliance has assembled subject matter experts from around the world who work with these issues every day, and who are prepared to lead and teach others to host safe post-pandemic events.”


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Safe to hold hackathon on Covid-19 solutions for live

Safe – a European project that deals with event safety, security and crowd management – is inviting the public to join its hackathon, which aims to find innovative and viable solutions to help festival and events manage the constraints caused by Covid-19.

The hackathon will take place in the form of an ideation camp with four different focus groups, which will be guided by experts from the live sector, safety management, technology, data, smart cities and sociology:

The Safe hackathon will take place on 21 and 22 January from 9:30 am –12:30 pm CET. Each group will host a maximum of 12 participants and registration is now open.

Safe is a project lead by Prodiss, with International Live Music Conference (ILMC), Le Laba, Issue, Wallifornia, TSC Group Management, Mind Over Matter Consultancy, BDV and European Arenas Association, and backed by the European Union via Erasmus Plus program.


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Five killed in Algerian rap concert crush

A stampede at a concert by Algerian rapper Soolking in Algiers has left five dead and many more injured, reports local news outlet TSA Algerie.

Soolking, real name Abderraouf Derradji, was performing at the August 20, 1955 stadium in the Algerian capital last night (22 August), which has a seated capacity of 10,000. Reports estimate attendance to have been between 25,000 and 30,000.

According to Algerian journalist Akram Kharief, “four small entrances” were serving the concert. “This caused a stampede and people fell as they pushed to get inside before the start of the concert,” Kharief told reporters.

“There were so many people at the concert, that I’m not surprised an accident happened”

Journalist Linda Chebbah, who was at the concert, told BBC’s Newsday that “there were way too many people for this stadium.”

“On the pitch, people were jostling for space. There were so many people at the concert, that I’m not surprised an accident happened,” said Chebbah.

The concert went ahead as planned following the incident, with a 30-minute delay, and was broadcast live on Canal Algérie. Derradji has yet to comment on the incident.

Industry experts from around the world will discuss ways to ensure safety at live events, including effective crowd management techniques, at the Event Safety and Security Summit (E3S) on 8 October.


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New chair for UK Crowd Management Association

The United Kingdom Crowd Management Association (UKCMA) has elected Eric Stuart as chairperson, succeeding Showsec’s Mark Harding.

Gentian Events director Stuart steps up following a ten-year tenure for Harding at the head of the association, which represents more than 40 British crowd-management firms.

UKCMA achievements over the past decade include the creation of National Occupational Standards and subsequent event industry qualifications, while Harding was also seconded to the SIA Strategic Advisory Group and will continue his work with the Safety Industry Authority.

He comments: “It has been an honour chairing the UKCMA throughout a decade of hard work; receiving SIA recognition has been ground-breaking for the industry.

“The future is very bright at the UKCMA”

“The commercial acumen and industry knowledge of the membership provides a solid platform for the new chairperson to take the association to the next stage of development.”

Other UKCMA personnel changes include Steve Blake of Storm4Events joining Tony Ball of SES Group (Show and Event) as a second vice-chairperson to support Stuart.

Anne Marie Chebib, who remains in post as secretary of the UKCMA, says: “The association sends immense thanks to Mark Harding for his tireless efforts over many years, and the support he continues to show in an ambassadorial role to ensure continuity for the organisation.

“We are also extremely excited to welcome Eric Stuart into role as the new chairperson and the creation of a new vice-chairperson role to support. The future is very bright at the UKCMA. We look forward to continuing improvement for all members and stakeholders”.


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A question of safety

In order to successfully complete a risk assessment for safety management at temporary event sites – and, it could be argued, on every site where entertainment is performed – “two entirely separate, but equally important roles” were vital, argued the late Mick Upton:

1. Crowd safety manager (CSM)
2. Health and safety consultant (HSC)

Upton clearly advises in one of his papers that the “crowd manager should be responsible for designing a crowd management plan and then focus on command and control of the event. The health and safety consultant or advisor should adopt a broader role in monitoring working practices during the build-up, event day(s) and de-rig.” (Upton, 2004) Both should operate in co-operation and in tandem with each other, as the roles complement each other but are not interchangeable.

Health and safety management is an industrial process defined as organised efforts and procedures for identifying workplace hazards and reducing accidents and exposure to harmful situations and substances. It also includes training of personnel in accident prevention, accident response, emergency preparedness and use of protective clothing and equipment. Typically at events, these hazards include work at height, temporary structures, rigging (lifting equipment and lifting operations), electricity, noise, plant and machinery, fire, weather, hazardous substances, manual handling, etc.

“Occupational health aims at: the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers; the prevention amongst workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; the placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological capabilities; and, to summarise, the adaptation of work to man and of each man to his job.”

Even highly experienced event professionals still talk about … “event safety and crowd management”

Crowd safety management is the supervision of safe, orderly movement and assembly of people. It is a vast subject that the majority of health and safety practitioners have little or no knowledge of and, until relatively recently, was not considered a social science. Sadly, it is not a term that the majority of small security companies (who often make unsubstantiated claims that they are event security companies) are familiar with, and who still place emphasis on public order rather than public safety. The Security Industry Authority (SIA), the UK government body which licenses companies and individuals in the security industry who have passed a relevant compulsory industry training course, has not helped, as there are no crowd management aspects included within SIA training, so in effect we have two separate roles to consider – crowd safety management and security – and it is the forward-thinking and well-placed event security companies and individuals who undertake crowd safety management.

By the same token, very few crowd safety managers know very much about general event health and safety. I am not saying they do not know anything, but that they are two very different roles.

Local authorities, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcement and police officers are not trained in, and generally know nothing of, crowd safety management, but they are charged with the responsibility of assessing us (usually during the event licensing process) and enforcement. A case of the blind leading the sighted, as we have many trained, experienced and qualified crowd safety managers within the events industry who have far more knowledge than most of the regulators and enforcers.

Local authorities, HSE enforcement and police officers are not trained in, and generally know nothing of, crowd safety management

A similar situation arises within health and safety enforcement: many local authority officers lack the required knowledge and skills to assess health and safety standards within the event industry, but, fortunately, the HSE are aware of this problem and are attempting to bring local authority officers up to speed – an issue that will not be resolved quickly enough.

So, we have three very different yet equally important roles – the event safety manager, the crowd safety manager and the security manager – but, unfortunately, many see the three titles as interchangeable and simply a matter of semantics. They are not.

This does not help our situation, especially with limited local authority and police understanding and knowledge. Even highly experienced event professionals still talk about and even run conferences or training courses in what they generally refer to as “event safety and crowd management” that, when looked at in further detail, are actually crowd management or security with little or no reference to event (health and) safety. They are different disciplines and I beseech everyone to use the correct terminology in the right context.

Let’s stop the confusion now!


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Crowd management leader Mick Upton passes

One of the UK’s most prominent crowd management specialists, Mick Upton, has passed away. Upton founded ShowSec International Ltd in 1982 and was the recipient of numerous awards recognising his contribution to the field.

“He gave many people (including me) a start in the industry and had a profound effect on everyone he met and worked with,” says Jon Corbishley at the Safety Officer Pty.

Following his retirement from ShowSec in 2000, Upton worked with Chris Kemp and Iain Hill on the development of the first ever crowd management foundation degree course at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College (now Buckinghamshire New University).

A statement from ShowSec pays tribute a “pioneer in the crowd-management industry” who made it “his life’s work to enhance standards for crowd safety and promote a professional approach to event security.

“Above all, he was a kind and caring man, always taking time to provide others with advice or encouragement to assist them in their careers or lives. A true gentleman; may he rest in peace.”

“His sheer enthusiasm and lust for life were his hallmark and shone through”

In 2005, Upton was awarded a Doctorate for his work and he was appointed as the first Head of the Centre for Crowd Management & Security Studies at BNU. He retired from that position in December 2007.

“There are three things that stick in my mind about Mick,” says Kemp. “The first was the day I first met him back stage at Bon Jovi at Milton Keynes Bowl where we talked about the possibility of education courses for the crowd management industry. His sheer enthusiasm and lust for life were his hallmark and this shone through in just speaking about the possibilities.

“Secondly his generosity. Mick never wanted much, when we finished our first book, Case Studies in Crowd Management, Mick came to my house for Dinner with Iain Hill to celebrate, it was a great night and his generosity of spirit just amazed us as we talked for hours about the next steps. Thirdly, he was just a great guy, never saw the bad in others just the opportunities and possibilities. He was the last of a breed. The mould has been thrown away and he will be sorely missed.”

“He was just a great guy, never saw the bad in others just the opportunities and possibilities. He was the last of a breed”

Upton’s career in the security business began in the sixties when he worked as a close protection bodyguard for a wide range of VIP clients including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Subsequently, as Head of Security at Artistes Services Ltd, he worked with celebrity clients that ranged from ABBA to Led Zeppelin.

It was this period that saw his keen interest in crowd management develop, specifically following the death of a young woman at a 1974 David Cassidy concert at which he was working.

Upton frequently consulted with police services, local authorities and foreign agencies on both crowd management and close security. In 2009, he acted as liaison between UK Special Forces and BNU to successfully establish civilian qualifications for military close protection training.

In addition to the book that Upton co-authored with Kemp and Hill, he also published From Ancient Rome to Rock & Roll – A Review of the UK Leisure Security Industry in 2007.


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