The Future of Security in the Major Events Sector

Filling the void: An insight into the approach to high footfall security screening
at major events and why this has to change, not only for events but for
crowded places in general. Crowded places remain attractive and vulnerable
to terrorist attack. Despite developments in technology, ‘users’ continue to
accept risks when there are so few formal drivers to change. What are these
technological developments and what are their implications?
The Future of Security in the Major Events Sector




Filling the void: An insight into the approach to high footfall security screening at major events and why this has to change, not only for events but for crowded places in general. Crowded places remain attractive and vulnerable to terrorist attack. Despite developments in technology, ‘users’ continue to accept risks when there are so few formal drivers to change. What are these technological developments and what are their implications?

About Stephen Cooper

Stephen Cooper is Apstec’s Customer Solutions Director responsible for providing advice on operational integration and security concepts relating to Human Security Radar (HSR).
Prior to joining Apstec, Stephen was the security advisor to the British Government on joint security programmes with friendly foreign governments. His move into government consultancy was a natural progression from the six years he spent working on the London 2012 Olympics, initially as the Head of Security for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and as the Head of Security for the Olympic Park and Village during the Games.

We join Stephen’s keynote address at the Security Exhibition and Conference 2018 in Melbourne.

Below a transcript of Mr Cooper’s keynote address.

If you have any questions or would like further information on high footfall security screening or aviation detection, contact us at info@tactical.co.nz
Tactical Solutions are detection and security specialists in the New Zealand and Australian markets and proud partners with Apstec.
There is so much out there to get our heads around these days.
There are many threats that are unpredictable and massively diverse.
I am familiar with the threat profile in Australia and New Zealand.
Below are a few points to make with the threats that are going on elsewhere, particularly in Europe, to illustrate a few key points.
These are some stats from 2015 to March 2018.
There was a total of 43 attacks in that period, very little in vehicle borne IEDs and most of them were suicide type attacks.
The take away from these stats are, from those 43 attacks, 46% were person borne IEDs or automatic firearms or a combination of those two types of attacks.
At Atatϋrk airport they used suicide vests and automatic firearms, as well as in the Paris attacks.
That accounted for 70% of the fatalities (329) and 68% of the injuries (1,744).
You will see the trend in Europe and parts of the Middle East where we see an increased use of vehicles as well. 18% of the attacks were vehicles and that accounted for 27% of the fatalities (131) and 25% of the injuries (784).
Conversely knife attacks counted for 36% of the attacks but in terms of their impact only accounted for 2% of the fatalities (9) and only 1.4% of the injuries (36).
The reason that I make this point is that people get fixated on knife attacks.
A knife attack is still significant and if you are an event organiser, it is a very bad day if you have a knife attack. It is a big deal, but when you have a look at the seriousness of how they impact events and security in and around stadiums, actually they are nowhere near as challenging as some of these other threats.

That is not the whole story.


In the UK 2005 to 2018, 70 serious attacks were disrupted.
In Australia between 2014 to 2018, 19 serious attacks were disrupted.
To compound it with a major events context you might be aware of Inspire, the Jihadi magazine, which is put together by al-Qaeda.
In 2014 Inspire urged its followers to attack sporting events. It urged them not to attack the venue but to attack people leaving the venue and as they approach the venue.

In other words, attacking people in a public space.

If you reflect on the Paris attacks, you will remember that there was an attack on the national stadium. They tried to get in to the stadium with two or three suicide bombers and a number of people with automatic weapons.
They didn’t get into the stadium, they detonated their devices outside, causing minor injuries with two or three people killed.
If you can imagine what it would have been like if they would have waited for people to come out of the venue or timed their assault as the people were exiting the venue, it would have been a very different story.

So, the bottom line is that people who would attack major events are very focused on public spaces, they understand our vulnerabilities.

Looking at the threat assessment associated with Australia, the threat levels are improbable at the moment. The next 12 months we are looking at low cost, simple type attacks and in that it includes, explosives, weapons and firearms.
However complex attacks cannot be discounted.
There is nothing that you cannot find in Australia, that you can find in the UK and when you have a look at the problems that they are having with returning Jihadis and fundamentalists who are looking to attack the UK in regards to Australia. It might be a benign threat environment with weapons and knives but there is absolutely no reason why that cannot fundamentally change and change quickly.

The intent and capability is there, and all it would take is a change of direction and you have a very different problem.

So, what are we doing about it?

In most countries where terrorism is an issue, there has been a lot of work around things like crowded places strategies and counter terrorism strategies.
These are all good documents and very worthwhile, but most of them don’t really have teeth because they are very focused on partnerships, sharing information and co-operation. This is all good and improves matters but does not take us forward in mitigating some of these risks.
Looking at Security Design Integration which is designing of securities for sports venue to have hostile threat mitigation, hostile vehicle mitigation and blast mitigation of structures. All of those things are happening and it is sadly a sign of where we’ve come from and where we’re going.
If we think about the West Minster attacks in London, you couldn’t find hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM) around public places, apart from Whitehall where there is a very extensive HVM programme.
Everywhere else there is not much, there was nothing at Westminster Bridge prior to those vehicles that drove into people on the bridge.
Everywhere you go in London now, there is hostile vehicle mitigation in place.

You can’t chase a risk all the time, there’s only so much you can do…

…but at least with vehicle impact or vehicles used as weapons, there is some scope for hostile vehicle mitigation to reduce risk of some of the high-profile places.
On the other hand, people screening has been a real problem.

So, what have we really done about people screening?

What we see generally, is a hardening of screening at venues.
To give you a bit of an example, in Paris, I was at a rugby match five month after the Paris attacks.
A week before that match they had disrupted a potential attack in Paris. About 150 meters away from that stadium, they were splitting men and women. Everyone was going through a pat-down search.
I was one of probably 10,000 to 12,000 people standing on a big road waiting to go through a pat-down search.

What a classic example! We’ve just had the whole thing of Jihad’s attacking crowded and public spaces, they didn’t need to get into the venue, there was a massive target standing in the middle of the road and we were there for a long time.

So, we are doing some screening, but I’m not entirely sure that we are doing it right.
Every time we tighten up security at venues, we are just creating bigger and bigger crowds outside the venue which are becoming more attractive to attacks.
For the London Olympics, you will most probably be aware that were the London Olympics site was sited in Stratford, it was the most radicalised part in the UK by a mile.
We had lots of problems around the park.
There were about 2,000 operations, or people under surveillance during the Games time and a lot of people were disrupted prior to the games themselves.
All of these issues were a concern, and in light of that we had 350 search lanes going into the venue and the maximum crowd that we thought we would have was a 7-minute wait.

We were very worried about someone coming in and attacking crowds.

But we haven’t seemed to have learnt our lessons and rather than looking at the vulnerabilities in public spaces, we remain very venue focused on the impact of the big crowds outside.

What can we do about it?

There are a number of technologies.
Uk is running a familiarisation program called the high football screening program and it’s taken these technologies and started rolling them out with users and authorities, so that they can understand what’s out there, how it can be used, and how it can be operationally integrated.
Coming onto different types of detectors. They are nearly all millimetre, Terahertz or centimetre wave types technologies.
They are active or passive and most of them have roles to play in operational concepts.
Here you have some narrow beam stand-off type detectors being able to operate at anything of between 30 to 90 meters from the screening process. These will do two to three people at a time and not in real-time, but it does give you the opportunity, being stand off devices, a few seconds to analyse the outputs.
A high throughput device that does about 1,200 people an hour. With this you need to do some divestment and if you are talking about a high-footfall of people that you want to screen in real-time you don’t want people to be divesting. It’s not all that practical and one should try and move away from that.
Another type of active millimetre wave scanner not to dissimilar to a metal detector concept. You can scan one person at a time and you’re looking at doing between 600 and 900 people an hour.
This is a high throughput system that does potentially between 6,000 and 10,000 people an hour.
This photograph was taken in Istanbul.
This is a high-end shopping centre. You’re most probably familiar with the challenges that the Turks have got. All shopping malls in Turkey need to have some kind of high-end security.
This is just a pilot installation looking at the opportunity to screen people coming off the metro and coming up into the shopping centre.

So what are we really trying to do?

We are not trying to get into the space of traditional aviation security.
Traditional aviation security is focused on finding a few 100 grams of something, small IEDS, knives and liquids. 100 grams of explosives at 3,400 feet is a significant threat that will break up an aircraft, it is not a huge problem in a crowded place.
Similarly, small knives are not really a problem in a crowded place. Although people religiously hang on to requirements that identify things like small knives.
We’re not looking at that space. We’re not about divestment.

We want people to be flowing freely through the checkpoints and we are looking for threats that are going to be genuine threats in crowded places, not aviation security.

We don’t want people to be divesting.
We want there to be a good spectator/user experience.
We are looking at high footfall screening of technologies:
  • Of throughputs of thousands
  • That operates at real time
    • There is no point in having technologies in a high traffic area where you can’t respond in real-time. It must be automatic!
  • Covert applications
    • Elements of the active millimetre wave systems can be used covertly
We are looking for:
  • Person worn IEDs on bodies
  • IEDs in backpacks
  • Automatic firearms
  • Large knives
  • Machetes and
  • Axes
Of the attacks identified earlier 50% of those involved the use of machetes or axes.
We’re not trying to find everything.
You can’t have high-throughputs and be looking for prohibited items like a three-and-a-half-inch blade where you’re looking to screen thousands of people an hour. Technology, at this stage, does not support that.
There needs to be a mindset of the trade off of having a flowing high-throughput and stopping everyone, getting them to take their belt off and their coat to find the small threats. You can’t have people going through thousands at a time, looking for a small blade.
Above are just a few user cases of what you would be facing and for you to use as a backdrop of how we integrate this kind of stuff.
We are still very much venue focused.
We have already been given a clue.

The enemy have even written about how they are going to attack us in public spaces.

We haven’t really done much about securing these public spaces.
If you go into London or any other major city you may have a police presence or armed police presence. You might have various other deterrents but in practical terms, it is really difficult to do things in public spaces and because there hasn’t been much done, except for putting a deterrent in place, the burden has always been on the venue.
And as I mentioned earlier, it’s the hardening of the security at the venue which displaces crowds and create very attractive targets outside the venue.
Transport infrastructures are also really challenging as is the last mile to a public event.
If you are a public organiser you shudder at the thought of the last mile.
The last mile is the space between the transport hub and the venue itself and it is constantly argued over who is responsible, who is going to pay for it, is it public space, is it the organiser responsibility.

That last mile is a good opportunity to deploy this kind of technology and screen people before they get to the venue.

In an ideal world, looking at the future of aviation security strategies, where people are looking to take people through a process.
From the point where people join the transport network, to the curb-side drop off, by the time you’ve moved through the process you arrive at the plane, you have been profiled and have been separated for special attention.
In an ideal world with major events, that’s where we would be.
We would be arriving at the venue, we’ve already mitigated a few of the risks.

There is absolutely no reason why we cannot screen for IEDS and automatic weapons in a public space.

There are also opportunities for complementing some of the existing systems in venue security or event security with some of these technologies as well.
The sensitivity of the systems can be turned up and there can be a high rate of false alarms, that do occur, and would hamper a high throughput area. If you have 30% of people that are giving off a false positive, that does put pressure on a system where you want there to be no divestment.
Live sites, where a lot of people gather to watch events is another good application for this kind of technology, where it would reduce risk as far as those spaces are concerned without the infrastructure and burden of aviation type security or even the burden of private security.
Interestingly private security doesn’t necessarily see this stuff as a threat and are embracing it.
They see this as an opportunity and there’s a lot of security and companies that are talking to technology companies with a view of integrating technology into their operations.
They need it and don’t see it as a threat to their industry.

Anybody that was involved in Melbourne in 2002 or London 2012 will know the dramas about getting security guard force generated and delivered. Even if you deliver it, the training of it, the insuring of it, is very challenging.

If we don’t move, we are going to have more of the same.

MORE long queues, MORE big crowds.

They are asking to be attacked, they are completely vulnerable.

So what are we really trying to do?

Mitigation into public spaces, it’s not just about the venue, it’s much wider than that.
We need to address the vulnerabilities.
If we have any bigger attacks in a public space, pretty soon someone is going to ask the question, “we knew they were vulnerable, we knew they were of interest, why have we not done anything about the public space?”

The terrorists have got freedom of action in the public space.

What is it in public space that is going to stop the terrorists from moving through it with weapons or explosives?
They are dominating the public space and we are not doing a great deal that is going to deter terrorists. If they step out into public space, they must feel that they are a public threat, that they might be detected, that they might be stopped, that they might not execute their attack successfully.
At the moment they really are free in that space.

We need to increase uncertainty, increase deterrence, we need to develop a hostile environment for those people that want to do us damage. We need to create a reassuring environment for the public.

We need to reduce the burden on the venues.
We talk about layered security, where does the buck stop with the event organiser, if you consider the residual risks when they arrive at the venue, are very significant.
It is not a sustainable model, nor is sustaining a private security industry either.
There is no prospect in growing a private security organisation particularly when you have a high threat profile for an event and in legacy you don’t need those people.

We must not forget the spectator in all of this.

If you have to queue for 50 minutes to get into a venue, or whatever the case may be, that is not a great experience. We can do something about that.
There’s a big question about a number of things.
First, the will to do this.
One of the challenges with this sort of initiative is, who owns it?

There is a lot of public space, private space and transport infrastructure, who owns the problem?

Is it government?
Who is going to do the thought leadership on this?
Who is going to coordinate it?
There is no point in integrating security unless it’s complementary and you’re getting value for money.
At the moment it is not clear to me or anyone living in Australia who owns this, and who is going to do something about it, to integrate it.
None of this is particularly cheap, there is a budget associated with it and money is going to be a big deal.

BUT…I don’t know of any country that hasn’t found the budget for the security the day after an attack has happened.

There definitely is a budget.
If you have a look at Atatϋrk airport, Brussels or London and you think of the economic impact those attacks had…they are massive.
In terms of value for money and return on your investment, we need to start thinking about acting now and not looking at doing it the day after it happened, which is already too late.
If you have any questions or would like further information on high footfall security screening or aviation detection, contact us at info@tactical.co.nz

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