Andy Haslam CPP, managing partner at ASK International, takes a look at how to build and maintain a solid chain of command when dealing with event security and safety.
As we recover from the impact of the attacks in Paris, Belgium and Istanbul, those responsible for managing crowded places should be feeling increased anxiety. Whether motivated by an ethical or legal duty of care, there is much that can be done to improve safety and security for events too. The first step is to establish an effective chain of command as part of the event management process. Following our previous article on the benefits of appointing your security provider early, here are five steps that any event management team can do to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them.
Step 1: Conduct a holistic and honest self-assessment of the risk to your event
List the threats (maintain a risk register), identify vulnerabilities, consider risk reduction (mitigation) options and try to include as many team members as possible, from all disciplines, to gain a holistic overview. Your time and available resource may restrict the rate of action so a risk matrix, which will help to prioritise key vulnerabilities, will prove beneficial.
Step 2: Delegate authority to mitigate identified risks
Effective delegation will allow you, as the senior event management team, to manage the holistic event process better. Remember, however, that you can ‘delegate authority, but not responsibility’. You remain ultimately responsible for the actions of your staff and sub-contractors, including security staff.
Step 3: Establish reporting timelines and a lead management representative
Throughout the process of establishing the ‘chain of command’ there should be one lead. They should be the one responsible for reporting lines. The lead representative should be empowered to make decisions, although issues with financial implications should — of course — remain with the boss. He or she should also establish their own reporting timelines that fit with the event planning process.
Step 4: Increase visibility of the chain of command
Everyone within the process should know and understand the chain of command — they should always go to the lowest member of the chain that can facilitate or make decisions that affect their work. This protects the senior management team and allows them, once again, to do what they do best.
Step 5: Challenge and question
Management must challenge and question throughout the event planning process, this is a given. Once the chain of command is established it is increasingly important for them to identify how one decision affects another aspect of the event. However, lead managers should not take decisions that are outside of their responsibility, except in extremis.