Guidance for event organisers
These guidelines are for the use of stewards and safety officers. More detailed advice may be sought from the Specialist Operations Planning Unit, at GMP Force Headquarters.
Whilst the freedom to hold events, to march and to demonstrate is important, so too is the freedom of people to go about their normal daily business with a minimum of disruption. Every effort must be made to ensure that a balance is struck between the rights and freedoms of those taking part in an event and those living and working close by.
This advice is aimed at standardising the police approach to all organised events staged in a public place and on all public highways. It creates an environment where, through consultation and partnership, public events will continue to take place.
A greater awareness of the individual responsibility of the organisers and those of the other agencies involved should emerge, which will ensure a more focused approach by all concerned resulting in a better planned, safer and more resilient event.
The organisation of a public event is a considerable responsibility. In addition to carrying moral and social responsibilities, organisers have civil, common and criminal law responsibilities for which they may have to answer to the courts.
Organisers may be liable for the consequences when things go wrong, particularly if there are defects in the planning or control of the event. This is more likely to happen if other interested parties are not consulted or if their advice is ignored.
Organisers should be aware of the provisions of the 1986 Public Order Act.
Failure to give police written advance notice of the date, time and venue/route of a procession; variation of such details from those previously notified; or failure to comply with changes, conditions or prohibitions imposed by police on processions or assemblies may constitute criminal offences.
The use of certain locations for assemblies or dispersal requires permission from the relevant authority. Such permission must be sent by the organisers to police as soon as possible before the event.
One of the main responsibilities of the organiser is concern for the safety of the public taking part, as well as for those in any way affected by it. This responsibility extends to avoiding damage to property, fear or alarm to the public, or disruption to the local community. Ensuring public safety at a public event is not the first responsibility of the police.
Police are responsible for maintaining the peace, preventing breaches of the law and taking action against law breakers. The organisers’ role of maintaining public safety can best be accomplished if there is no crime or disorder taking place. Equally, the police role of preventing lawlessness and disorder can best be accomplished when public safety is assured.
Since these roles are clearly interdependent, it is in the interest of both organisers and police to work together with joint responsibility for the regulation of the event. Greater Manchester Police firmly believes that this partnership approach is the most effective way forward for all parties involved.
Statements of Intent
The principles of partnership with event organisers are already applied at Sporting Events and Stadia. These events are the subjects of written agreement, Statement of Intent, between the club and the police. Although Statements of Intent are not legally binding contracts, they provide a constructive focus for the police and the clubs, to ensure that all the important issues are addressed.
The parties sign the document, which can also be known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to record their agreement and, though there is no compulsion to do so, it then becomes a matter of accepted professional good practice.
Organisers of public events may be asked to sign similar Statements of Intent which reflect an understanding of roles, responsibilities and agreement on how they will be met. In all cases, accurate, early predictions of the type and number of participants are needed in order that the arrangements can be scaled accordingly.
Early advice and regular contact thereafter with the emergency services and other partners usually through a safety advisory group (SAG) will enable the organiser to make informed, appropriate and agreed arrangements in relation to traffic management, medical cover, stewarding arrangements and contingency plans.
The Office of the Mayor has the discretion to authorise cost recovery on behalf of Greater Manchester Police in accordance with the guidelines contained within force policy. Police Commanders will pre-determine where, how and at what level such charges will be made.
The negotiations regarding such charges will go through the Police Commander or the police event planner and a formal agreement will be drawn up for signature by the organiser. At the earliest opportunity in the planning process, event organisers will be given a written estimate of the likely level of the police cost recovery.
Greater Manchester Police will prepare a written invoice to facilitate recovery of the police costs and forward it to the event organiser for payment to be made.
The Traffic Management Act of 2004 places the responsibility for traffic management matters for events on, or affecting, the highway on the local authority for the area in which the event takes place.
Event organisers should liaise with the relevant highway authority(ies) to discuss the traffic management implications for any planned event. Temporary road closures, traffic restrictions and alternative routes all require careful consideration.
Depending on the scale of the event, this initial consultation may include representatives of the emergency services and take place through a safety advisory group. The Traffic Management Plan should not include the use of police resources to control/direct traffic.
Police resources will only be used to deal with spontaneous traffic incidents which may occur during the duration of an event. Once the incident has been resolved the officers will resume their normal duties.
It is vital that the organisers keep control throughout the entire event.
This is normally achieved by using stewards who act as agents of the organisers to ensure that the participants adhere to what has been agreed. They must carry out decisions made by the organisers as the event proceeds, through a clearly defined chain of command.
Their roles will also include the implementation of the event contingency plans, a set of plans and actions to cope with any likely occurrence, emergency or not, which may happen as a result of the event taking place (these plans must be compiled by an event organiser).
There must be sufficient stewards to communicate the organisers’ intentions and directions to all participants in the event. A risk assessment will help to establish the number of stewards necessary to manage the crowd safely. When preparing a risk assessment, it may be necessary to carry out a comprehensive survey to assess the various parts of the site and consider the size and profile of the crowd.
Assessing the number of stewards based on the risk assessment rather than on a precise mathematical formula will allow a full account to be taken of all relevant circumstances, including previous experience, managing the crowd and locating stewards at key points.
Adequate stewards at public events should be provided by the organiser without the use of police officers. Stewards must be briefed so that they are fully conversant with the organisers’ intentions and directions, and a copy of the briefing should be recorded by the event organiser.
In addition, they should be conversant with any contingency plans for the event and in particular their roles in such plans. To enable effective organisation of stewards, a Chief Steward should be appointed (preferably someone who is a member of the organising committee and who has ideally achieved an accredited qualification in event marshalling) to deal with all matters relating to stewards, including their briefing.
The chief steward may, depending on the size and nature of the event, liaise with the police officer in charge both before and during its progress. The overall stewarding of the event should be divided into sections with supervisors being responsible for each group of stewards. Supervisors should be responsible for between 6 to 10 stewards as a guide.
Stewards should be fit, both physically and temperamentally, to carry out the organisers’ wishes and to ensure that the participants comply with them. It is advised that stewards should be over 18 years of age.
The selection of stewards is extremely important. They need the ability to be firm, but in a tactful, friendly and good-humoured way. Effective stewards develop sufficient rapport with the participants for whom they are responsible to enable them to identify and defuse potentially difficult situations and promote an atmosphere of goodwill.
Stewards must be easily identified so that participants and others know that they are acting in an official capacity. Experience has shown that items such as lapel badges are insufficient for this purpose. A distinctive garment should be worn. Ideally this should be a coloured tabard, with a clearly identifiable number on it and comply with Health and Safety legislation.
The organiser must maintain accurate staff records. To retain control, the organisers must be able to communicate with the stewards during the event. This may be achieved by portable telephone or radio links between the organisers, the chief steward and the supervisors of the stewards.
Communication must be a two-way process. Stewards need to report developments back to the organisers during the event, so a formal organisers’ control centre needs to be established.
Organisers should be aware that they cannot rely on mobile telephone communications as/if when an incident occurs then networks may become jammed preventing communication.
Stewards must immediately inform the police of any matter that requires police attention such as anything that may lead to a criminal offence or breach of the peace or an immediate risk to public safety.
Stewards must monitor the crowd and not watch the event. It must be stressed that stewards are agents of the organisers. They are not police officers and therefore: Although they should take all reasonable steps to prevent disorder or breaches of the peace, they must not exceed the powers of the ordinary private person.
They must not carry or have near them any weapon; carrying a weapon in public is prohibited by law, unless there is lawful authority or reasonable excuse. Appointment as a steward carries no such authority and gives no ‘reasonable excuse’ in law. The possession of a weapon as a deterrent is also prohibited.
Additional guidance for organisers
Whenever practicable organisers should encourage people attending an event to use public transport for the journey to an assembly and from a dispersal point. They should provide information as to times and availability of transport.
Vehicles or animals should not be used in processions.
The use of motor vehicles often increases the risk of injury to participants and animals can often become overawed by large crowds and panic.
People should not be allowed to leave a procession to distribute leaflets. If leaflets are to be distributed this should be done independently of the event.
When it is intended to present a petition either, during, or at the completion of a protest march, prior notice must be given to the police because special arrangements may have to be made with the intended recipient.
Ideally collections should not be made at processions. However if money is to be collected in connection with a procession, an application should be made for a licence to do so.
If banners are to be used, it is essential that they be designed in such a way as to reduce the risk of danger when they are used in high winds and cannot be adapted for use as weapons.
The use of public address systems should be controlled to ensure that the local community is not disturbed.
Organisers should ensure that children under the age of 16 are accompanied by a responsible adult and that they are kept away from any edge of a procession which is near to moving traffic.
Organisers must consider making provisions for first aid and should discuss their arrangements with the Ambulance Service.
In the event of a major emergency or criminal activity the police will implement its predetermined coordination role with the other emergency services. This must be reflected in the organisers’ plans for the event.
When an event has ended the organisers should arrange for stewards and safety officers to be debriefed so that all information useful to the organisers and the police may be gathered.
The organisers should liaise with the police after the event so that significant information may be exchanged and discussed. In this way all parties involved may develop their systems of planning and event management in the light of experience.
Experience and good practice has shown that these debriefs should be in the form of a ‘hot’ debrief straight after the event, followed by a formal debrief some weeks later, which allows time for all organisations involved to gather their own debrief.