FSOA Conference 2018

22 March 2018

Representatives from football clubs and related organisations across the country gathered for another engaging conference held by the FSOA (Football Safety Officers Association) on Wednesday 21st March 2018.

Showsec is both a sponsor of the FSOA and a security and stewarding specialist providing services at many football stadiums, so representatives from our team were pleased to attend and contribute to the discussions once again.

The conference opened with a speech from Sharon Cicco, Operations and Safety Officer for Arsenal FC. Stepping down after five years from her role as FSOA Chair, Sharon is to be succeeded by West Brom’s Mark Miles, the Association’s long-serving deputy. Alan Wallace, Showsec’s Regional Manager for the North West, congratulated the new Chair and led into a series of fascinating talks from other industry experts.

Among these was Mark Gay of Solesbury Gay Legal Services, who explained one of his recent cases and its potential implications. The debate concerned the border between a venue and a public space, and whether security in an area should be provided by the private sector or the police.

An update to the ongoing terrorism threat in the UK was given by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit whose representative spoke about the hundreds of arrests and ongoing investigations in the past three years. They went on to discuss the importance of training to ensure security staff can recognise and respond to incidents, and also explained how the government’s new ACT campaign (Action Counters Terrorism) is intended to raise awareness and empower the public to help detect and report threats.

Updates were also shared regarding the SGSA (Sports Grounds Safety Authority)’s Green Guide, which provides guidelines on safety, security and service which are relevant across the sector. The sixth edition of the guide is currently in review before wider release, and is set to include a range of new and updated topics.

One such topic is crowd modelling, which was discussed at the conference by Dr Aoife Hunt, Associate Director of Movement Strategies. She explained that although new technology helps us understand and predict crowd behaviour, models cannot replace common sense or professional experience, once again highlighting the importance of well-trained staff.

The wealth of experience being shared over the course of the day reinforced the clear benefits of the conference, supporting the FSOA in their goal to become the go-to source of collective knowledge for clubs, contractors, the media and other key agencies.