When managing security just yards from Number 10 Downing Street, in an iconic central London venue, there is no room for error, says ISC.
Integrated Security Consultants (ISC), who recently provided support to a lavish private event on Horse Guards Parade, explains here how they did it and what they learned.
Destination and corporate event management specialists Spectra DMC approached ISC back in March regarding their plans for a gala dinner for the London Meeting of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL). This was to be a highly prestigious and unique event on a grand scale, with a giant marquee erected on Horse Guards Parade, serving around 1,000 covers.
Guests were welcomed by a choir and the troopers and horses from the Household Cavalry formed a guard of honour. Crucially, although the event was private, it took place in a highly sensitive area – out in the open and right next to a major central London public road. Choosing the right security supplier was vital in order to keep the site secure during the build and event, but also to enhance the guest experience and to ensure everything ran smoothly.
The event took place on 13 September, but ISC was on-site 24 hours a day controlling access to the site four days early for the build. They then stayed until the site was clear two days later.
“We had to work closely with the many different parties involved, all of whom had their own needs and expectations,” said ISC’s business development manager Paul Griffiths. “This included not just our client, Spectra DMC, but also the Royal Parks, Met police, the various event contractors and members of the public, because of course, everything we did attracted a lot of attention.”
As well as managing the security of the site itself, ISC provided corporate security staff to welcome guests, manage public interest, and handle traffic ingress and egress.
Griffiths explains: “This event was 18 months in the planning and, naturally, both Spectra DMC and the ACTL had high expectations for the day,” Griffiths continued. “Opportunities to hold such prestigious events on Horse Guards Parade are few and far between, so every aspect of the event had to be perfect, from the catering and entertainment to the security team.
“We spent six months planning and familiarising ourselves with the expectations of our client and ensuring full risk assessments were carried out. We attended planning meetings with the Royal Parks so we understood how the site operated and what to expect, advising on security requirements. The police and Royal Parks wanted to ensure that all health and safety requirements were in place and that the site was secure at all times. We liaised with them and brought security cover forward by 24 hours to ensure that the very earliest stages of the build were covered.”
On the evening itself, all access points were secured and a large crowd of onlookers had to be kept back so that all guests could be admitted during a short 30-minute window, transferring from coaches within seconds. It all went without a hitch, but of course there were some challenges.
“These were mostly logistical, such as some contractor vehicles turning up without pre-registering,” said Griffiths. “Another challenge was that the site is usually easily accessible to pedestrians from Horse Guards Road. Rather than just station officers along the 160m perimeter, we were permitted the use of crowd barriers to provide an extra layer of defence.
“Unsurprisingly, holding such a glamorous event in a public place attracted a great deal of attention from passers-by, in particular when the Band of the Coldstream Guards arrived (actually our Managing Director’s former regiment) and played several numbers. The event also coincided with the nearby Proms in the Park, which resulted in large numbers milling around in the vicinity, but this did not pose any problems for our team.”
ISC believes the company’s success in securing this event is the result of a long history of working on other high profile events, often in spectacular venues, and a culture of listening carefully to clients’ requirements to build a bespoke security service.
“We provide only the highest calibre of personnel and while the physical security of the site was a priority at all times, so was the need for competent, adaptive security staff with strong customer service skills,” Griffiths said.
“Everyone on the ISC team was really helpful and great to work with,” said Spectra DMC account director Mark Wareing. “The security manager was totally flexible and I could just leave him to get on with it.”
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