EA Legend event. Two hosts sitting at a table.

AO Arena (formerly Manchester Arena)

Manchester, England

The bombing incident at the Ariana Grande concert in 2017 was significant for many reasons. From an event security perspective, there were many lessons learned from the Manchester Arena incident that have improved the safety of events across the world.

Enhanced Security Measures Needed For All Events

First and foremost, this incident highlighted the need for enhanced security measures throughout the duration of the event and specifically related to egress. Precautions must extend beyond the seating and performance space. Proper setbacks for vehicle mitigation, bag buffer zones to limit the size of bags adjacent to the venue, guest screening and visual presence of security and law enforcement extended outside of the guest screening, ingress and egress locations is critical. As a result of this incident, venue owners and operators have a better understanding of how to implement enhanced security measures and offer attendees a sense of safety.

Prevention, Planning, Readiness and Quality Control Is Key

The incident called into question the security plan in the days and weeks after the Manchester Arena incident. The plan in place, while sufficient for the threats the arena had experienced in the past, was not prepared for the threat posed that dreadful night! Proper prevention, physical presence, planning and readiness is key, just because a risk isn’t probable doesn’t mean your team shouldn’t be prepared for it. Quality control is just as critical, it’s one thing to write a plan. It’s critical to validate the staff are performing the roles they are assigned to and prepared to handle the difficult tasks. These are the most important lessons learned from the Manchester Arena incident.

Social Factors Play a Role in Everything

A security guard at the event actually noticed the suspicious behavior of the suicide bomber in the minutes before the explosion. He hesitated to approach him for fear of being called racist. Although many focus on the missed opportunity to prevent the incident, the hesitation of the security guard also shows that consciousness about race and discrimination is improving in law enforcement and security professionals.

Safety and Security Has Improved

Following the Manchester Arena incident, our team was contacted by the arena operator to conduct a multi-phase assessment and develop a plan for re-opening. Working alongside staff that had just experienced the worst situation an event professional has ever faced, we developed a plan that focused on threat mitigation through proper use of equipment, training, staffing, and other resources. This culminated in a successful, safe and secure reopening. There’s no doubt that the Manchester Arena is a safer place and that this incident has prompted other venues across the globe to improve their safety and security as well.

Compassion Is Stronger Than Fear

Another of the most important lessons learned from the Manchester Arena incident is that compassion and kindness prevail. Despite running in fear for their lives, many staff and attendees stopped to help others performing first aid functions and saved lives. In the aftermath, nearby businesses and members of the community showed tremendous compassion and support to those affected. As terrorists seek to instill fear and hate, the community responds with compassion and love.

More Lessons Learned from the Manchester Arena Incident

The above are just a few of the lessons learned from the Manchester Arena incident. For arena operators and security professionals, this was an important reminder that preparation and resources are more critical than ever. Attendees can also feel safer knowing that people are working tirelessly to ensure this doesn’t happen again.