Public facilities and the modern security landscape

Public facilities and the modern security landscape 

Andy Read MCIMSPA, Places for People
Martin Girvan FCIMSPA, Sports Ground Safety Authority

Martin Girvan

Martin Girvan, an inspector with the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA), explained that as part of its role in securing safe and secure sports venues for spectators, the SGSA was moving into the world of counter terrorism planning and risk management. The talk these days, said Girvan, is about crowded places. Sports centres by their very nature are crowded spaces, so operators can’t ignore the fact that their centres are considered to be potential targets.

The threat level from international terrorism is currently severe, and has been at this level, or higher, since August 2014. Operators need to think about how they make their buildings secure; they need to consider lockdown procedures, evacuation plans etc.


Martin advised operators to read the free Crowded Places guidance. The next edition, due out in a few months, will include a dedicated section for sports and leisure centres. He also pointed delegates to counter terrorism training:

  • Project Griffin (available through National Counter Terrorism Security Office - NaCTSO) and
  • Argus; a strategic training programme, which is currently being re-written.

The national occupational standards for stewards, supervisors and safety managers at events were currently being re-written to incorporate the additional skills needed such as dealing with firearms and blast injuries. The standards, which are relevant for operators who host events, will be available to the sector by September.

“We have to accept that we are in a sector that bad people are going to want to do bad things to. You need to start to think about your contingency and response plans, how you would lock down your buildings and the protective security arrangements for the chemicals in your buildings. It’s difficult and it’s challenging, but there is plenty of good advice out there, so I urge you to visit the National Counter Terrorism Security Office and Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure websites and download their information.”

Doing something is better than doing nothing.
— Andy Read MCIMSPA, Places for People

Andy Read

Andy Read, Head of Safety at Places for People Leisure, took delegates through a journey of a leisure centre to illustrate safety and security issues from an operational perspective, starting in car parks where we need to think about lighting and barriers etc, moving to the reception area where we need to think about reception staff, CCTV signage, entry barriers and even security staff. Do we need floor to ceiling cubicles to prevent the inappropriate use of phones in changing areas and are we thinking about the layout and sightlines of changing rooms?

“I think this is one area of our business that the majority of centres haven’t taken seriously enough,” said Andy.

Some delegates questioned how to strike a sensible balance to keep people safe without going over the top with security measures. Martin agreed that in some cases it’s not appropriate to put in huge amounts of capital investment because the risk is so low, but the best thing operators could do was to train staff to challenge people who are unfamiliar and respond to incidents. He also suggested reminding people on your website that you have CCTV. Doing something is doing better than nothing, he said.