Public event planning
If you are organising an event or festival, Avon and Somerset Police – in collaboration with a wider collection of agencies and partners – can support you with making it safe and secure.
Speak to your council
When organising an event, contact your local council first:
- Bath and North East Somerset Council
- Bristol City Council
- North Somerset Council
- Somerset Council
- South Gloucestershire Council
They may ask you to submit documents, such as an event management plan, proof of public liability insurance or traffic management plan. The Council then passes these documents on to the Police and other agencies for review.
Each council has its own processes for managing events and coordinates safety advisory groups (SAGs). These are made up of representatives from the council, emergency services and other relevant bodies.
SAGs provide a forum for discussing and advising on public safety at an event. They can help organisers with event planning, management, and to encourage cooperation between all relevant agencies.
Every public event is assessed on a case-by-case basis and all matters must be tailored specifically to your event and venue. The earlier you start the conversation, the better.
For larger events, you may need to apply up to six months in advance. Check your council’s website for details.
When we receive your application and supporting documents from the Council, there are several key considerations from a Police perspective. These are set out in the:
- Purple Guide – industry standard guidance for events and event safety
- Green Guide – if you plan to use a sports venue for your event
Location, site or venue
Things to consider include:
- is the location, site, venue suitable for the event or festival?
- what is access to the location like for vehicles and staff, attendees and emergency services?
- have you considered medical facilities, toilets and health and safety?
- parking facilities, highways, and the impact on surrounding area or infrastructure
- is your event taking place in a permanent or temporary structure?
- how exposed is the site to weather? For example:
- could strong winds damage the infrastructure?
- what is the site drainage like?
- can an emergency vehicle still gain access if it floods or becomes boggy?
- is there an impact on egress from site?
- is there any shade from sun and extreme heat?
Even if your event is taking place on private land, consider the impact on the surroundings and this should be included in your event management plan, risk assessments and traffic management plan.
Emergency services access routes
- Does your site plan include clearly marked access routes or a red route?
- Are your access routes fit for purpose? For example, is the surface 3.5m wide allowing vehicles to travel in both directions on a sound surface?
- Have you considered the size of vehicles that may have to attend?
- Access routes should be kept clear at all times
- Are independent emergency access or entry points required?
- Have access routes been shared with emergency services, including What3Word locations if you are using this? What3Words gives a unique address to every three square metres in the world, which will always stay the same, making it easier to pinpoint a precise location.
- Are there rendezvous points for emergency services?
- What evacuation procedures have you got?
- What invacuation (lockdown) procedures do you have?
- Where are your assembly points and safe spaces?
- Do you have adequate stewards or marshals?
- Is your messaging clear and coherent?
- Have you got a clear and concise and memorable coding for event staff?
When planning your event, be aware of the current threat level.
All staff, volunteers, stewards, marshals and security personnel should:
- undertake the free online Counter Terrorism Awareness Training (ACT) prior to the event date
- provide their certificate of completion to the event organiser
The organiser of the event and any staff should download the ProtectUK app:
You should have procedures in place to aid your teams in managing certain situations.
These could include:
- the number of DBS-qualified staff you will have as part of your team and how recently their DBS check was (they should be checked every three years)
- where you will locate your found child or vulnerable person point
- the difference between a missing and a found individual
- contacting the police on either 101 or 999 in the event of an emergency
- the time of day your event takes place – is it daylight or is it dusk or dark? Are there any additional risks because of this?
- the use of language and terminology – is it clear? Does everyone understand?
For more safeguarding guidance, see the Event Planning Information (PDF).
Drugs and psychoactive substances
If you require amnesty bins, contact us to discuss a Memorandum of Understanding.
If you plan to sell alcohol or provide entertainment, you may require a licence. Depending on the event, this could be either a:
- Temporary Event Notice (TEN) – for events of up to 499 attendees
- premises licence – for events with more than 499 attendees and occur regularly)
If you are unsure if you need a licence, contact the Licensing Team at your local Council who will be able to advise you.
If you plan to sell alcohol, your event documentation should include details of age verification and any training and processes staff will be required to follow.
Staff, stewards and marshals
Whether you have paid staff or unpaid volunteers, it is essential they are well trained and you have confidence in them to ensure the safety of attendees at your event.
All stewards or marshals should undertake the free ACT training before working at your event.
Stewards or marshals should be:
- easily identifiable – high-vis jackets, uniform, badges
- well trained – they should know their specific role and what they are responsible for, as well as steps to take in a variety of situations
- qualified for the job
You should have a ratio of one steward or marshal per 100 people.
You should also have confidence in them. Are you comfortable they understand what they must do and that they will be capable of delivering your plans to ensure event safety?
Licensed events or festivals need to have Security Industry Authority (SIA)-qualified security. SIA security officers are trained to deal with various scenarios and play an incredibly important role in event safety.
However, make sure your security contractor assures and audits the competence of those deployed at your event. It is a real threat to the safety and security of events if there is fraudulent use of qualifications and ID.
- Do you need to provide any training, such as ACT or counter-terrorism?
- Does your team have a thorough understanding about what to do in emergency situations?
- What are the key points you need to raise on the day of your event?
- Will you provide reference sheets, handbooks, or lanyards with key flash action cards?
Transport and traffic management
If you are planning to undertake any form of traffic management, you should liaise with your local highways authority.
Even if you are not holding your event on the highway, it is likely you will still need a traffic management plan due to the impact your event has on the surrounding area.
For example, you might need to close a road for pedestrian safety, or to display an advanced notice of your event’s impact on the highway (such as some running or cycling events).
You should consider:
- vehicle access to and from your event venue
- pedestrian access to and from your event venue
- emergency access
- temporary road closures, if applicable
For more traffic management guidance, see the Event Planning Information (PDF).
Public health emergencies
Have an awareness that you will need to abide by any public health regulations which come into effect.
For example, include measures which give attendees confidence that controlling the spread of coronavirus has been considered.
Also, include mitigations in case of:
- mass staff sickness
- contingency provision, or
- ability to access additional staff, if required, whether that be stewards, security or marshals
If your event intends to use drones or you wish to consider how you respond to unwanted or hostile drones, see the Civil Aviation Authority’s guidance.
Death of a national figure
You should consider what you would do in the case of the passing of a national figure and any impact it could have on your event.
- Will you still have access to the same resources you expect?
- It is worth engaging with your suppliers to ensure they can still provide you with the expected resources if you go ahead with your event? Particularly considering security, medical cover, toilets, and barriers
- If your suppliers are no longer able to meet the requirements, what will you do?
Event planning officers
- B&NES, South Gloucestershire, and Weston-super-Mare seafront – Rebecca Wilkinson
- Bristol and North Somerset (excluding Weston-super-Mare seafront) – Ted Grabowski
- Somerset – Gary Bowden
Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 08:00-16:00.
If you have specific concerns or queries regarding counter-terrorism matters, you can contact South West Regional Counter-Terrorism Advisors.