This chapter, slightly deviating from the structure of other articles, discusses the analysis of data obtained from the survey, relating to the fourth research objective:
"To analyse the perceptions of licensing authorities and event safety professionals in relation to legislation on crowd safety at outdoor events."
The data was analysed using SPSS and presented as descriptive as well as inferential statistics to understand if there are any connections to the themes that arose in the literature review and subsequently outlined in the methodology chapter. The themes include:
- Crowd safety today (current measures)
- Improving crowd safety (future measures)
The survey questions were designed to discover information relating to the four themes above. This chapter discusses the profile of respondents, categorises them into two groups and presents the data connected to each key theme.
Profile of Respondents
A total of 108 participants took part in the survey with the option of remaining anonymous. Less than a quarter of respondents are female and almost three quarters of respondents are male as shown in Table4‑1below. From the author’s experience of the approval process, this gender imbalance is present when working in consultancy, with local authorities and at Safety Advisory Group meetings.
The highest percentage of age range of respondents is 35-44 years. The mean age of respondents is 46 years, with the full age ranges listed in Table 4‑2 below. Over half of respondents are over 45 years of age.
The mean years of experience of respondents is 16 years, with years’ experience grouped in Table 4‑3 below. What is notable is that of all respondents, 60% have over 10 years of experience in their field.
When considering the event licensing and approval process, respondents fall into two categories of roles in the process: ‘Assessors’; who assess, challenge and approve an event plan; and ‘Presenters’; who prepare and present the plan to be approved or challenged. There were more Presenters who completed this survey than Assessors as shown in Table 4‑4 below. The respondents were categorised as the following social actors:
- Assessors; which include local authorities and other authorities.
- Presenters; which include:
- Organisers (event organisers etc.)
- Consultants (crowd safety advisors/consultants)
Almost half of respondents were consultants (Presenters) with 35% of Assessors completing the survey (see Table 4‑4). There was inequality in response rate. Upon reflection, it was challenging to secure more Assessor responses. Perhaps this was due to the COVID-19 pandemic where Presenters may have had more available time as events were cancelled and Assessors may have been occupied in the COVID-19 response due to mostly being associated with local authorities.
A Chi-Square Test (Appendix C) was conducted to identify the age range of those in each role. The results indicate that a high percentage of respondents who are 35-44 years old or 55+ years old are Consultants, and a high number of those ages 25-34 are Organisers. This is not surprising as the author assumes that consultancy arises from experience in organising events before change of career, and the Chi-Square test returned no significant difference.
The following table outlines the level of qualifications held by respondents. A considerable number of respondents hold a Level 6 and Level 7 RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework) qualification, meaning they hold at least a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree or higher. Considering that formal education within the events sector has developed within the last three decades (Backman, 2018), this response level was higher than expected by the author.
To understand if age of respondents impacted level of qualifications, the following chart (Figure 2) outlines age range versus education level. Throughout all age ranges, most respondents hold either a Level 6 or Level 7 more than a Level 5 or under, therefore level of education does not appear to be classified to any age range.
To understand any variances in role and gender, Table 4‑6 below identifies gender regarding role, identifying that half of male respondents are consultants and almost half of female respondents are organisers.
This was investigated further to understand any differences between age and gender. A Chi Square Test (Appendix D) was conducted and found a statistical difference (where p = 10.083, df = 4 and threshold = .05 returned a significance of .039.) This confirmed a relationship between gender and role within the events industry. It also matches the author’s experience of working in both local authority and event management; that the majority of consultants are males and majority of organisers are female.
The HSE (2020) definition on competency influenced the following range of questions, as having the appropriate ‘training, skills, experience and knowledge’ were used as key indicators. The questions thus reflected this definition to get an indication of their competency:
- Q4. How many years of experience do you have in your role? (Experience)
- Q5. What is the highest level qualification you hold? (Knowledge)
- Q6. Have you completed crowd safety specific training? If yes, what training? (Training/Skills)
The results of these questions holistically show that the majority of respondents have high competency indicators, as listed in Table 4‑7 below.
A key theme highlighted in the literature is that the root or distal cause of most crowd disasters are due to lack of safety culture (Turner, 1994; Challenger and Clegg, 2011; Lea et al, 1998). Furthermore, Fruin (1993) called for every venue or event with over 500 attendees to have a certified Crowd Safety Manager on board. What the results in Table 4‑8 indicate is the respondents of this survey are trained, qualified and experienced crowd safety professionals both as Presenters and Assessors. Considering there is currently no legal requirement for them to demonstrate competence in order to be hired to plan for crowd safety at outdoor events, or assume a role to scrutinise event safety plans, this appears to demonstrate self-regulation in developing competency.
When respondents were asked what crowd safety specific training they had completed, they indicated a range of qualifications, with the most common being Level 5 RQF. What is interesting about this result is that under the SSGA75, Level 4 RQF is the required qualification to be a stadium Safety Officer. Although there is legislation specific to stadia and not outdoor events, it appears that crowd safety practitioners, on average, hold a higher RQF qualification than is required to manage spectator safety at a sports ground.
To investigate further how qualification is affected by role, Table 4‑9 indicated that the highest percentage of roles that have undertaken crowd safety (or health and safety) specific training are Organisers. The results also indicate that all roles have almost equal crowd or health and safety training.
It was decided to understand the social actor role of respondents further. The reason for this was due to the nature of the roles of Assessors and Presenters, where one presents plans for approval/challenge/advice and the other role as that of scrutiny, can sometimes cause debate in beliefs and expectations.
Due to the nature of the roles of Assessors and Presenters, where one advises/critiques the other's work, the results of the survey was split into responses of both parties, to understand any deviation in view. Table 4‑10 below outlines the difference in profile of respondents. When comparing the profile of respondents of both roles; on average it appears that Presenters have more years’ experience, higher level education and crowd specific training than Assessors.
Question 9 and 10 were designed to understand how the Assessor and Presenter roles perceive the crowd safety competency of each other. Question 9 asked respondents to state what percentage of Presenters they witness understand crowd safety as detailed in Table 4‑11 below.
Regarding Q9, almost half of respondents (43.5%) believe that 76% - 100% of Presenters demonstrate an understanding of crowd safety. Comparatively, the results of Q10 indicate that the majority of respondents agreed that ‘less than half’ of all Assessors have an understanding of crowd safety. This result resonates with Elliott and Smith (2006) and White (2009) that the competency level of SAGs are not at a level to adequately assess crowd safety plans.
Question 9 and 10 were divided into responses by Assessors and Presenters to understand if there are differences in how both social actor roles perceive each other. The results identified for Q10 that the majority of Presenters believe less than 25% of Assessors have an understanding of crowd safety. In addition, just under half of Assessor respondents agreed that less than half of Assessors have an understanding of crowd safety. The overall indication here still is that those who are in Safety Advisory Groups, local authorities or responsible for assessing crowd safety plans, as a whole, do not possess the competence required to effectively assess and challenge crowd safety plans (Elliott and Smith, 2006; Herring, 2009). This, in comparison with Presenters, who appear to posses higher overall competency, results in potentially unbalanced assessments of event plan.
When analysing Q9, the mean value response was 2.92 (where 3 = 76% -100%) indicating that respondents believe Presenters have a better understanding of crowd safety than Assessors. These results resonate with the evidence of recent guidance such as The Good Practice to Safety Advisory Groups written in 2019 (Emergency Planning College 2019) developed to improve consistency in competency and quality of SAGs.
Question 11 (Table 4‑12) asked all respondents to state what factors they believed influences the competency of a Safety Advisory Group i.e. those who work in Safety Advisory Groups, local authorities etc. who assess event plans. (where 1= Not Important and 5 = Extremely Important).
The highest mean response was Q11.5 “SAG members hold crowd safety qualifications” at a value of 4.63. The lowest mean ranked at Q11.4 “SAG has responsibility for licensing a sports ground”. All respondents chose a positive answer (3 = “moderately important” to 4 = “important”) leading to assume that all factors listed in Table 4‑12 influence the competency of SAG members. These results are similar to results of Q10, where respondents believe SAGs do not posses a required level of understanding of crowd safety, correlating with the results for Q11.5, where respondents agree SAG members holding crowd safety qualifications was the most important factor influencing competency.
After considering mean results for Question 11, it proved useful to understand the difference in response between Assessors and Presenters. An Independent T-Test (Appendix E) was conducted to understand in further detail the response choices and if there are any deviations from the overall results. The responses are listed in Table 4‑13 below.
Apart from Q11.4, it appears both social actor roles agree on factors influencing competency of a SAG member. The only variation in agreement is Q11.4, where SAG has responsibility for licensing a sports ground. Presenters feel this is important where Assessors feel this is less than important. Both sets of respondents agreed that Q11.2 “Size and scale of events” and Q11.3 “Experience of major events” are important factors influencing competency. This correlates with White’s (2009:16) report on local authorities and events claiming that “local authorities that regularly host large events are better placed to assess event plans and deal with associated issues”. The experience of assessing major event plans can improve a SAG’s ability to effectively assess event plans as learning by proximity in context and from other’s experiences’ impacts how people make decisions (Klein, 1999).
Current Crowd Safety
To ascertain current crowd safety measures, Question 7 asked respondents if they felt they knew their legal obligations when planning events and felt their local authority had adequate support and advice for them. The results are presented in Table 4‑16 below in rank order where 1 = Strongly Disagree and 5 = Strongly Agree.
The highest mean result was Q7.1 “It is easy to understand my legal duties regarding crowd safety” at a value of 3.94, (where 4 = Agree). The lowest mean result was Q7.4 “There is clear guidance for local authorities on how to assess crowd safety plans for outdoor events” at a mean value of 2.6 (where 2 = Disagree). Holistically, respondents feel they understand their legal duties around crowd safety for outdoor events. The lowest mean result correlates with responses to Q10 (What percentage of Assessors have an understanding of crowd safety) and Q11.2 (size and scale of events influence SAG competency) and Q11.3 (experience of major events influence SAG competency) and to the literature regarding competency of SAGs and local authorities in adequately assessing for crowd safety (White, 2009). Not only do respondents feel that Assessors on a whole do not possess the required level understanding of crowd safety, they also feel they are not well supported in how to adequately assess crowd safety plans.
Question 7 was investigated further to identify variances in the responses from both Assessors and Presenters, as presented in Table 4‑15. Q7.1 identified that Assessors “neither agree or disagree” that “it is easy to understand” their legal duties regarding crowd safety. Both groups disagreed that there is clear guidance for local authorities on how to assess crowd safety plans. Furthermore, both groups gave a negative answer for Q7.2 “there is adequate support and advice from the local authority”, where Presenters disagreed with the question and Assessors neither agreed nor disagreed. These results paint a picture regarding Assessor competency, where local authorities appear to be ill equipped to carry out a role that is not currently legally required of them, yet is expected of them.
An Independent T-Test (Appendix F), was conducted on Q7 to identify differences in responses, and returned a significant difference of 0.02 for Q7.2 where the threshold is 0.05. There was a significant difference in the results for “there is adequate support and advice from the local authority” for both Assessors and Presenters indicating that there is a relationship between the variables. The results indicate that Presenters are more likely to agree that they understand their legal duties regarding outdoor events, compared to Assessors who neither agree nor disagree. As discussed previously, Presenters have on average, higher competency indicators than Assessors, so these results correlate.
Question 8 asked respondents to state roughly how many of their events go through an “approval process” or SAG, the mean result was 76%.
Question 8A offered all respondents to enter a free text response as to why events do not go to SAG. Over half of respondents gave the following to be the most frequent reasons as to why an event does not go through an approval process:
- 53% - Size of event being less than 500 or 5000 people
- 14% - Event on private land
- 10% - No approval process in place
The results discovered that over half of the responses gave the reason that events do not go through any approval process due to capacities of between 500 - 5000 people. This highlights that events in this capacity could be going ahead without any oversight, assessment, approval or regulation. As discussed in the literature review; density, rather than capacity, is a key risk factor (Still, 2016) and so events with capacities of 500 or less can still present a high risk to crowd safety if density increases above the 5 people per metre square threshold (Fruin, 2002). The results highlight that the industry may be experiencing a number of ‘near misses’, which are not reported, as there is no legal requirement to do so. This further supports that the approval process regarding crowd safety for outdoor events is inconsistent.
Question 12 asked respondents to give their view of how often they witness risks to crowd safety at events that result in an incident. The DIM-ICE model was used to design the question focusing on the three key elements to crowd management: design, information and management. The responses are below where 1 = Never and 5 = Always.
Presenting the results of Q12 as a chart in Figure 3 above, offers a general perspective of respondents to what they believe is the frequency of incidents that occur when they are at an event, either working or attending. The highest mean was Q12.3 ‘management risk to crowd safety’ at a value of 3.21, where respondents believe that they witness incidents ‘sometimes to often’. This view correlates with what has been identified in the literature that the most common reason for disasters is failings in management and an accumulation of errors that result in disaster (Turner, 1994; Challenger and Clegg, 2011; Lea et al, 1998; Paté-Cornell, 1992). Turner (1978) highlights the ‘incubation period’ before a disaster where several chains of events accumulate unnoticed. Is this chart a warning sign?
Question 13 asked respondents how influential they believed legislation was on outdoor events (where 1= Not Influential at all and 5 = Very Influential). With Table 4‑17 ranked in mean order; the highest mean rank was 13.3 Health & Safety at Work Act at 4.22 (somewhat influential) and the lowest mean was 13.5 Occupier’s Liability Act at 3.26 (neither).
The results are not surprising as both the HSWA74 and Regulatory Reform Order 2005 (RRO) govern the build and live period of an outdoor event. What is interesting to note, however, is that over 70% of respondents agreed that the SSGA75 is influential in crowd safety at outdoor events at a mean rank of 3.96, however it does not apply to outdoor events, yet it almost matches the mean value of influence alongside the Licensing Act 2003.
In addition to Q13, respondents were able to enter free text responses to supplement their choices. Some responses included:
“In the absence of any specific legislation, Outdoor Events have been shoehorned into the above statute. As such they fail to adequately account for the wide range of crowd and event specific potential issues.”
“I have witnessed significant inconsistency, within the same localized region, through individual 'enforcement officers' being required to individually interpret the requirements of existing legislation against the application at public events”
“Licensing Act has no mention of crowd safety and we very rarely get licensing clauses which request anything crowd-specific on the shows I work on. Occupier's Liability gets very little recognition as a piece of legislation within festival industry at all. Everyone making safety and crowd arrangements on greenfields is fully aware of HASWA 1974, and the Fire Safety Order, and also borrows from the Green Guide when it suits them for the calculations and details!”
These free text responses indicate that the lack of legislation and regulation of crowd safety at outdoor events results in organisers and local authorities alike to piece together a framework to support them in developing effective plans. In addition, it is known that some event organisers manipulate plans to suit conditions for certificates such as the Temporary Event Notice to circumnavigate licensing and planning restrictions (Robertson and Eldridge, 2007; Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003, 2017).
To further investigate any differing views in role in Question 13, an Independent T-Test (Appendix G) (Table 4‑18) was conducted to identify the views of both Assessors and Presenters.
The results demonstrate that responses from both Assessors and Presenters share an equal view on the impact of legislation on crowd safety. Considering the opposing views in previous questions discussed, they are united on how legislation impacts crowd safety.
Licensing Act 2003
Question 14 (Table 4‑19) asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed on statements regarding the Licensing Act 2003, (where 1 = Strongly Disagree and 5 = Strongly Agree).
The highest mean response was Q14.1 “LA03 has improved crowd safety since coming into power” at 3.18 (neither) nor the lowest mean response was Q14.4 “A premises licence is fit for purpose regarding crowd safety” at 2.47 (disagree). Considering this legislation closely links to influencing crowd safety at outdoor events, respondents have returned a negative response for all questions, stating that the LA03 is not fit for purpose regarding crowd safety at outdoor events. This result is in stark contrast to Q13.2 where 75% of all respondents gave a positive answer, agreeing that the LA03 was influential on crowd safety at outdoor events. This indicates that although respondents agree the LA03 impacts crowd safety, they do not believe it is fit for purpose, which correlates with the claim that ‘crowd safety’ is incidental to the Licensing Act 2003 (Laing, 2006; White, 2009).
The lowest mean result was 14.3 “A TEN is fit for purpose regarding crowd safety” at a mean value of 2.47 (disagree), which reflects the research claims that TENs have become a way of avoiding licensing conditions rather than enforcing what is required by the law to operate safely (Robertson and Eldridge, 2007; Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003, 2017).
To gain further insight to the perspectives of both roles, an Independent T-Test (Appendix H) was conducted to uncover any difference in views from both Assessors and Presenters. The results, as shown in Table 4‑20, indicate that both social actors are in agreement regarding the effectiveness of the Licensing Act 2003. The only variant is Q14.3, where Assessors ‘strongly disagree to the ‘TEN is fit for purpose’ compared to Presenters ‘disagree’. This slight variance in response may be due to the fact that Assessors have experience of being confronted with event organisers circumnavigating licensing conditions (Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003, 2017).
Currently, the LA03 is the most influential piece of legislation that impacts crowd safety at outdoor events. The results above state that all respondents disagree that any part of it is fit for purpose for ensuring crowd safety. All responses were either neutral or negative which highlights the concern that this Act is not sufficient for ensuring crowd safety at outdoor events.
Safety of Sports Ground Act 1975
In contrast to the LA03, the SSGA75 was developed specifically with spectator safety in mind (Smail, 2011). 86% of all respondents agree that the SSGA75 has improved crowd safety since it came into power (where 1 = Strongly Disagree and 5 = Strongly Agree).
These results (Table 4‑21) are in stark comparison with the LA03 in that respondents agree that the SSGA75 has improved crowd safety since coming into power. Q15.2 and Q15.3 indicate that respondents are more likely to agree that the law is fit for purpose regarding crowd safety. However, it is interesting to note that respondents were less likely to agree that the NVQ courses and the Safety Certificate were fit for purpose regarding crowd safety. There may be a correlation with the knowledge that the average respondent holds at least a Level 5 RQF qualification, when a Level 4 is required to be a Safety Officer under the SSGA75.
An Independent T-Test (Appendix I) was conducted to identify any differences in views of Assessors and Presenters as shown in Table 4‑22 below. Both social actors agree that the SSGA75 has improved crowd safety since coming into power. Both also believe that the Green Guide is neither fit for purpose regarding crowd safety, however Assessors are more likely to agree, with a mean value of 3.9 (where 4 = agree). Furthermore, Q15.5 returned a significant difference of .015 (where threshold is .05), identifying a relationship between Assessors and Presenters’ view of the effectiveness of the Safety Certificate.
There is a difference in views for Q15.2 where Assessors believe the SGSA is fit for purpose but Presenters neither agree nor disagree. This could be because the SGSA support the work of local authorities (Assessors) and provide updated guidance regarding spectator safety in stadiums in the UK (Fillingeri, 2018).
Improving Crowd Safety
Q16 asked respondents to indicate how important they believed certain elements are to the future of improving crowd safety at outdoor events (where 1 = Not Important and 5 = Extremely Important). The responses listed in Table 4‑23 below are ranked by mean result.
The highest mean result was Q16.1 “Qualified Crowd Safety professionals” and the lowest mean result was Q16.5 “Regulatory body for outdoor events”. All respondents agree that qualified crowd safety professionals are crucial to the future of improving crowd safety at outdoor events. The following ranked mean results Q16.2 ‘qualified assessors’ and Q16.3 ‘certification system for crowd safety practitioners’ closely correlate with Q16.1, in the realm of the desire to see qualifications in this industry. The results for Q16 closely align with the results discussed so far including Q7.3 and Q7.4, where respondents disagreed there was clear guidance and support from the local authority and that clear guidance for local authorities to effectively assess plans and guide organisers. They also align with Q10 where respondents believe Assessors do not have as much understanding of crowd safety as Presenters. The results from Q16 indicate that respondents believe the solution to issues arisen so far is that certification of crowd safety practitioners is the most important action that can improve crowd safety at outdoor events.
Although Q16.5 ranked the lowest mean, 64% of all respondents still agreed that a regulatory body is important to the future of crowd safety. Each answer returned a majority positive result by respondents, indicating that they believe all elements asked in Q16, which currently do not exist in the industry, are important to the future of crowd safety at outdoor events.
Question 17 asked respondents to rank in importance from 1 to 5; if they could make one change right now to improve crowd safety, what would have the greatest impact? Responses are listed in Table 4‑24 below ranking by the highest mean.
The highest mean result was Q17.1 “Introducing crowd safety specific legislation” at 3.57 and the lowest mean result was Q17.4 “introducing a government approved regulatory body”. As a majority, respondents agree that introducing crowd safety specific legislation is the single most important change that could be brought in to improve crowd safety. However, respondents also believe that introducing a government approved regulatory body is the least important change. This belief is in contrast with evidence that self-regulation is unsuccessful (Ball-King et al, 2012; Elliott and Smith, 2006; Fitzpatrick, 2014), and the presence of the SGSA as a regulator has impacted safety at sports ground, with its absence noted as a reason for increased crowd safety risk in stadia (Johnes, 2007; Roberts, 2019). Introducing a certification/accreditation framework is ranked as the second most important change, which correlates with the highest ranking answer in Q16; that qualified crowd safety professionals are the most important element to improving crowd safety at outdoor events.
The following summarises the key themes that arose in the survey responses.
- Respondents believe that Assessors do not possess the competency required to effectively assess crowd safety plans for outdoor events and lack support and guidance to be able to carry out their role.
- There is inconsistency in the licensing/approval process. Over half of events that do not go through an approval process are due to capacity, ranging from 500 - 5000 persons. In addition, most respondents indicated that they frequently witness crowd incidents at outdoor events.
- An overwhelming majority of respondents disagreed that the Licensing Act has improved crowd safety since coming into power, when this law is the main piece of legislation that impacts event approval and crowd safety at outdoor events.
- As a conglomerate, respondents believe that the biggest factor to influencing and improving crowd safety at outdoor events is the qualification and licensing of all crowd safety practitioners which includes both Assessors and Presenters.
The final chapter will discuss the research conclusions and recommendations for industry, government and further studies.