Monitoring crowds and knowing how to deal with crowd problems is an important part of a steward’s role. As the ‘eyes and ears’ of the event, you should monitor your designated area carefully and report any situations or potential situations through your chain of command so that they can be dealt with before things escalate. UK events have a good record for safety – the events industry has learnt from serious failings in the past. You will not be expected to deal with dangerous crowd situations on your own but your role in being observant and reporting concerns is an important part of keeping people safe.
Disorder associated with football matches in the 1980s, and beyond, led to several pieces of legislation aimed at making football violence-free. The following offences are specific to designated football matches:-
Football (Offences) Act 1991
Throwing of missiles onto the playing area or into the crowd – s.2
Racist or indecent chanting at a football match – s.3
Going onto the playing area without authorisation – s.4
Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985
Carrying alcohol in certain vehicles (coaches,trains & mini-buses) on route to designated sporting events – ss.1 and 1A
Possession of alcohol upon entering a designated sporting event – s.2(1)
Possession of alcohol in view of the pitch during a designated sporting event – s.2(1)
Being drunk at a designated sporting event – s.2(2)
Having a flare or firework etc. whilst entering, trying to enter or being at a designated sports ground during the period of a designated sporting event – s.2A.
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
Unauthorised persons (“ticket touts”) selling or otherwise disposing of a ticket to a designated football match – s.166
Football Spectators Act 1989 – Football Banning Orders
Banning orders are imposed by the court to prevent known trouble-makers attending football matches, both in the UK and abroad. They can last from between two and ten years and the conditions can also include bans from public transport on match days, bans from certain pubs or town centres, and the surrendering of their passport to prevent travel when international matches are being played.
On 15 April 1989, the Hillsborough disaster left 96 people dead and more than 700 injured. The crush was caused by incompetent crowd management. The video below shows how events unfolded.
The video below demonstrates what can happen when the density of the crowd reaches critical levels – what you see is a progressive crowd collapse involving hundreds of spectators:
Crowd surge at Oasis concert in Manchester 2005
Extreme weather can have devastating consequences.
The clip below shows a stage collapsing after being hit by a gust of wind at the Indiana State Fair on 13th August 2011. There were 7 deaths and 58 injuries.
Crowd problems can also occur as a result of false alarms…