While researching crowd safety and the impact of legislation on crowd safety, one of the key themes that warranted exploring was competency, as legislation and regulation are designed, amended, introduced and managed by human beings. For the purpose of this article, competency is framed as follows: that a person within a role has been given the appropriate training and qualifications, possessing the skills and experience in order to carry out their role effectively.
The key agents within the industry I believe impact crowd safety the most within planning, licensing and delivering of events are those who attend Safety Advisory Groups or licensing meetings. For the purpose of this dissertation, I called them Presenters and Assessors and defined them as;
- Assessors: those who are responsible for assessing, guiding or approving event plans are often members of a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) or local authority.
- Presenters: those who organise events, consult on events and ultimately present the event plan for assessment or approval.
In academia, competency is widely defined within in the rationalistic approach, as an attribute based phenomenon constituted by specific sets of attributes such as knowledge, skills and experience in order to carry out a task effectively (Yang, 1984; Spencer and Spencer, 1993; Sandberg, 2000; Chang et al, 2012). The need for competence can be defined as an individual’s desire to feel effective in engaging with their environment (Deci and Ryan, 2000), and is discussed within the realm of workplace job analysis, dominated by three main approaches; worker-orientated (skills attributed to the worker), work-orientated (role specific activities transformed into personal attributes), and the multi method-orientated (combination of both approaches). This attribute focused approach appears to be adopted by the Health & Safety Executive in the UK as their definition of competence is as follows;
"combination of training, skills, experience and knowledge that a person has and their ability to apply them to perform a task safely" (HSE, 2020).
The competency of Assessors and Presenters is considered a theme in this study as they perform key decision making roles regarding legislation and event approval. If these professionals hold a high degree of skill and experience, they can offer complex technical guidance on critical decision making as they are able to make decisions despite incomplete, incorrect or contradictory information (Klein et al, 2017:67). As events can often be one-off, unique and highly impactful on an environment and people, I believe being able to make effective decisions despite incomplete information contributes to competency.