Flawed Plans Made Good with Plentiful Explanation and Determination
© Written by Alan CROWTHER CCTP BA(Hons) Econ, Senior Consultant MSS
Approximately one month after taking up my Head of Security for Venue and Events at one of South East Asia’s largest concert venues I was catapulted into arrangements and preparations for an annual Korean stars concert/ceremony. This was an annual event that had always suffered from fans who had no tickets or were in possession of contraband large lens cameras and stools who gathered together to check for entry weak spots in order to gain entry. If no weak spots were identified the so called “renegade” fans would gather near the entry processing area and when they had gathered in sufficient numbers (50+) they would charge the entry point overturning tables used for ticket and bag checks in an attempt to overwhelm the position and the take advantage by trying to dash into the concert hall with a large number succeeding.
The reason why this behaviour was prevalent was that the Korean stars annual ceremony was a live cast event and involved many live performances by hugely successful and high-profile K-Pop bands and artists. The reward on gaining entry with contraband long lens cameras was that good money was paid for live streamed photographs and videos with many such fans being paid an all expenses and income paid trip to supply “boot leg” news outlets with the most up to date pictures and videos. It was learnt such fans could earn up to $20000HK if they successfully gained entry to the annual Korean stars live concert and live streamed their illicitly obtained photos and videos.
Explanation a Plenty
Luckily I had done a 6 month consultancy at the venue compiling a report on venue and event security. I was therefore no stranger to the venue other wise I would have had a very steep learning curve to handle the challenge posed by the upcoming annual Korean stars concert as well as get buy in for my plan from staff who had supposedly tried everything over the past three years but had been unsuccessful to control the “renegade” fans other than resorting to seek police help when ticket processing entry points had been over run with tables over turned and damaged by behaviour that most certainly amounted to Disorderly Conduct and acts that amounted to Criminal Damage. The responsible venue staff from Events Services and Delivery as well as Business Development were all jaded and required a great deal of buy in of my plan which initially resulted in a 3-hour meeting to win them over!
The annual Korean stars event was complicated because prior to the main concert in the largest concert hall capable of holding 14000 seated and standing fans there was a red-carpet event in a hall with access for that event being from a ticket screening area set up in an adjacent hall. It is of note that another hall was used as an extended back of house artist and press area.
Flawed Plan Made Good
My plan was to only have one ticket and bag screening area at the first floor for seated fans only which meant the screening area could be enveloped by multiple layers of mills barriers with just a small access point for the approximately 10000 seated fans to enter the screening area. The screening hall once used to process the 3000 fans with tickets for the red-carpet event would be used to process the annual Korean stars concert standing fans and as such the ground floor then became a ticket only floor for the red-carpet event fans and the main annual Korean stars concert standing fans from whom we expected the most problems as the six standing areas where nearest the stage and hence provided a closer position for taking photographs and videos. (In previous years they had another ticket screening area at the ground floor entrance to the concert hall.) The entry into the screening hall was by a corridor established by the wall of the screening hall and an extended length of mojo barriers set some 4 meters from the wall which was almost impossible to break through unlike the boxed mills barriers near the entrance to the screening and six standing area holding pens. Indeed security was heavy in screening and most of the bouncers hired for the concert were in that hall when the time came to process the annual Korean stars concert standing fans.
Steadfast Determination to Thwart Break Through Attempts
It soon became evident that the “renegade” fans had entered the screening in small numbers to check for weak spots with the only area identified being the mills barriers at the end of the extended length of mojo barriers. A toilet near this location which was open soon became the HQ for the “renegade” fans who used it to duct tape cameras to their bodies under their heavy and hot clothing. In deed this was confirmed when we sent a plain clothed female guard to check the toilet out. Soon after this an attempt to cross the mojo barriers was thwarted but this was only a distraction for the main group of “renegade” fans to try and break through the mills barriers which almost succeeded despite the herculean acts of security, staff and bouncers who managed to replace the mills barriers which had been lifted skyward much like Tower Bridge in London when a ship passes underneath. The security staff suffered a couple of injuries with one member of staff being so violently smashed aside by a male “renegade” “fan” who was later stopped and when police arrived arrested for AOABH which resulted in the staff member having to take 30 days of sick leave. The male arrested appeared in court and was sentenced to a custodial sentence amounting to many months.
After the main attack was thwarted conditions became more orderly and all standing fans were processed to their holding pens for admission to the main concert hall. All the “renegade” fans by that time had been identified and plain clothed security kept an eye on them reporting their position when they thought there was a need. Eventually the “renegade” fans gathered at the coffee shops nearest the first floor entrance screening area making one last attempt to break into the screening area just before the show start time when the number of guards present had been reduced because of other commitments in the concert hall. This last attempt was also thwarted and the annual Korean stars concert started on time with a full house.
All that was left to do during the annual Korean stars concert was to mop up any fans in the concert hall who were in possession of a long lens camera who were given the choice to deposit their camera at the concierge and still watch the show or be expelled. Indeed some fans were also found in possession of suspected forged concert staff and press passes which were of such good quality that only representatives from the annual Korean stars concert organizers could state were false albeit the details were very similar to the real passes. The concert organizers even stated they did not know how the details on the passes had been leaked as they were a closely guarded secret.
The annual Korean stars concert that year was adjudged to be a success despite the 2-3 attempts by the “renegade” fans to break through ticket screening areas. No such problems arose the next year as a further hall was added which standing fans had to walk through before reaching their ticket screening hall and that hall had no toilet that was near the entrance to the screening hall and therefore could not be used by “renegade” fans to muster and duck-tape long lens cameras to their bodies prior to attempting to break through the ticket screening area.
Finally it is of note that the annual Korean stars concerts are also held in Korea and Japan and these when held are without incident because of different powers to deal with such “renegade” fan behaviour that inhibits such behaviour due to the corrective measures imposed such as banning from concerts for life and access to the country being rescinded.
All rights reserved. October 2020. English version only.
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