Stewarding, Security and Crowd Management.

Many inexperienced event organisers simply do not understand the difference between Stewarding, Security and Crowd Management Services, let's look at each in order. 


At many events Stewards are often volunteers, there are a few excellent training courses available to them such as the Level 2 NVQ Award in Spectator Safety or the Level 2 NVQ Award in Event Stewarding, and of course and many events provide their own internal training programmes but the quality of which does vary from excellent to very poor or even useless! Quality training and briefings are essential to good stewarding. 

The primary role of a steward is to assist with the delivery of an enjoyable and safe experience for audiences. Stewards help the events to maintain a high level of customer care and provide practical assistance both inside and outside of the venue.

The types of activity they could be doing includes: 

  • Presenting at all times, a smart, alert and visible presence at the event venue
  • Carrying out pre and post-event safety checks ensuring compliance with safe working procedures
  • Greeting, assisting and directing people attending the event and checking tickets
  • Monitoring crowd movements and behaviour to identify potential issues or incidents and to take action as necessary
  • Car park stewarding and directing traffic on site
  • Reporting any safety or security incidents or concerns and dealing with emergency situations including first aid or fire and helping with evacuations
  • Reporting hazards including toilets out of operation or a build-up of litter and waste. 
  • Providing "Situation Reports" (Sit Reps) to Crowd Safety Managers and, when necessary, acting upon the instructions of the Crowd Safety Manager.  

A steward could be described as a walking information point and are invaluable to a smooth-running operation. They should be high profile and must wear high visibility tabards. 

Event Stewards Briefing Session

A steward briefing session.  Photo curtesey of Eric Stuart. 


Security needs carful planning in advance, at most events the role of security is very similar to that of a steward and to an extent the roles are interchangable with a major exception, all Security staff must be have passed the approved training and Licensed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). Dispite assurances to the contrary, the SIA did not introduce any specific training for event security, the SIA insist they must receive the same training as night club door staff. Not really suitable or appropriate training for events! There is now a Level 2 qualification in Event Security Operations but that has been ignored by the SIA.  

Certain activities can only be carried out by Licensed Security, they include body and bag searches, confiscating prohibited items, the removal of persons from the Licensed site or venue, guarding licensed premises (e.g. pubs, bars and clubs) and events or property against damage, theft, unauthorised access, or outbreaks of disorder. 

Bag Searches

Only those individuals employed, or contracted in, to carry out licensable activities are covered by the legislation. Volunteers, by virtue of not being employed or contracted in are not considered to be employees and therefore are not licensable under the Private Security Industry Act

Carefull considereration needs to be made on what security precautions are appropreate and are required, the Police should be consulted during the event planning stages.

Among things to consider will be Counter Terrorism, unauthorised entry, ticket touts, bootleg merchandise, prohibited items, robbery and theft, acts of violence etc.

Security are usually hired from an approved security contractor, whilst it may be appealing to buy cut price security, the possible consequences of doing so are considerable. Low quality security provision can raise the risk to the public by being unable to deal appropriately with incidents, screening and vetting checks may be inadequate, customer service may be poor, and ultimately your reputation may be damaged. Past reporting in the media shows that it is often the buyer that makes the headlines, not the security contractor. Well informed buyers of security can reduce the likelihood of this occurring by conducting strong tender processes, due diligence checks, and detailed pre event planning.

Security again needs to be high profile, most security companies provide staff with T shirts or polo shirts with the the company logo and an identification number, these are normally worn with black trousers and black shoes or boots. Often high visibility tabards or waterproof jackets with company logos and identification numbers are added if required. Counter terrorism is a high profile subject these days and your security advisor should be able to advise you correctly on this subject. Avod companies that are unfamiliar with events, it's a different world to working as night club door staff, detailed checks and research should be done on your proposed security provider. Speaking from past experience, I tend to avoid a company who are local to the event or clam to be recommended by thelocal Police or or local Licensing Authority. 

Crowd Management 

BS 8406 defines crowd management as a systematic planning for and supervision of, orderly movement, assembly and dispersal of people. There was a Foundation Degree and Masters Degree in Crowd Safety Management but these are no longer available, this has sadly left a hole in the available training for crowd safety managers but an alternative may soon be with us. Many security companies also claim to offer Crowd Managers, most of them don't know the difference between a crowd management plan and a security operational deployment plan! Some even use the incorrect term "crowd control" when they are referring to crowd management, two very different activities. Crowd control is dealing with a crowd that is out of control (like a riot situation), we prefer to properly and safely manage crowds so they don't do out of control. Crowd control is like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.   

Crowd Managers are nomally required at events with a capacity of 5000> The number of crowd managers required will range from 1> depending on size and complexity of the event. 

NOTE Crowd management involves the assessment of the people handling capabilities of a space prior to its use. It includes:

• evaluation of projected levels of occupancy;

• adequacy of means of ingress and egress (including flow rate calculations and equipment required such as pedestrian barriers for search lanes);

• processing procedures, such as assisting and directing members of the public;

• expected types of activities and group behaviour;

• evaluation of crowd dynamics and crowd safety. 

The first consideration is the occupant capacity of your site or venue, you need to know how many square meters of usable viewing space you have available (after you have deducted the footprint of all infastructure). You can accomadte two persons per square meter. This does not include car parks, camp sites etc. This will give you the occupational capacity of your site, this is based on 0.5 square meters per person for a standing event, seated events will require more space. 

Floor space isn’t the only consideration in determining how many people your site can take safely. You also need to work out how long it would take to evacuate the premises should an emergency occur.

In practice it takes one minute for 85 to 90 people to pass through a metre width of escape route, though it could take longer if the route leading away from the exit narrows or includes a sharp turn that could slow people down. You should also work out how long the evacuation would take if one of the escape routes (the largest) is blocked by fire.  You need to be sure that there would be enough exits remaining to allow people to escape quickly and safely.

If you wouldn’t be able to evacuate everyone in the appropriate time you will need to either reduce the numbers attending, install extra exits or choose a different venue. 

This is only a rule of thumb guide, a detailed calculation is required both for crowd management and the fire risk assessment. 

Cultural and group behaviour need to be considred for both audaiance and artists, a classical music concert will atract different artisits and audiance to a heavy metal concert for instance, each has their own style of behaviour. 

It is common at most large rock and pop music concerts to erect a front of stage barrier system as shown in the confiruration diagram here:

A good simple Basic Barrier Design

These specialist barrier systems allow trained security or stwards to operate as a rescue team to safely extract those members of the audiance. who my me ill, injured, dehydrated or distressed, out of the area in from of the stage (often refered to as the mosh pit). Pit Barriers are designed and tested to withstand the huge pressures that are sometimes produced by massive crowd surges. 

Many acts (particularly high energeny artists such as punk and metal bands) attract and audiance who like to mosh or slam dance. Moshing or slamdancing is a style of dance in which participants push or slam into each other, typically performed in "aggressive" live music. Moshing usually happens in the center of the crowd, generally closer to the stage, in an area called the "pit". 

More complex barrier systems (as ilistrated below) are employed when artist and audiance profiling and risk assessment show that they will be required, these are often used to reduce lateral crowd surges. 

A complex barrier system

Stagesafe do not provide stewarding, security services or crowd managers as part of our services. Call or email Chris on 07831 437062 or now!