Author: Jim Chalmers and Steve Frosdick
ISBN No: 978-1-907611-9
Review date: 30/11/2023
No of pages: 314
Publisher: Paragon Publishing
Year of publication: 11/09/2012
If you want to gen up on safety and security at sports grounds - bearing in mind Britain hosts a large sporting event next year - a pair of authors have returned with an enjoyable and insightful book.
More Safety and Security at Sports Grounds is a follow-up to a similarly-titled book in 2005. Both men are former police officers with experience of policing football supporters, Steve Frosdick in the Met and Jim Chalmers in the West Midlands – and indeed Frosdick admits to shame over treatment of football fans (’we treated them all as a security risk’) in the 1980s. Much has changed for the better, as the men showed in their 2005 book. But there are new issues, and old ones – hooliganism – linger. In a readable style – Frosdick, now a consultant and academic, generally writes the chapters and then Chalmers, still a practitioner in retirement as deputy safety officer at fifth-tier club Kidderminster, writes a commentary. Between them, like roving midfielders they cover plenty of ground.
For starters, they put the words ‘safety’ and ‘security’ under the microscope, which matters in stadium management because, for one thing, the Security Industry Authority made (Jim Chalmers recalls) ‘vigorous efforts’ to bring sports stewards into the SIA regime. And as reported in the August issue of Professional Security, it’s still on the mind of the regulator. Chalmers, president of the Football Safety Officers Association, plainly has little time for SIA ‘interference’. As he writes and the book shows, stadia have been looking after themselves long before the SIA began. Much of the book is given over to ‘spectator behaviour’, and it’s striking that despite all the hand-wringing and publicity about hooligans, we’re far from knowing who hooligans are, and why they do it. It’s suggested trouble-makers are ageing – is the problem going away as, in the Premier League at least, all-seater stadia are more about being a consumer than a passionate fan? Another chunk of the book is case studies, and ‘mystery spectator visits’. My one quibble is over the book title; there are the cases of Cheltenham racecourse’s recovery from a storm in 2008, and a music concert at Wembley, but the authors deal largely with football, admittedly a bigger deal in the UK than rugby codes and cricket. For a complementary perspective on live events more generally, see the Case Studies in Crowd Management, Security and Business Continuity by Prof Chris Kemp. While American sports venues lead on customer service, the UK leads on ground safety and policing. One of many insightful discussions from the case study on lower-league Stevenage FC: how different is stewarding a small ground where you may know staff (and hooligans) from the larger, more anonymous venue like Wembley. Can the steward and safety officer at one adapt to another? Chalmers makes a strong point about the lack of money in grass-roots football (while the elite footballers earn millions!?). As Chalmers admits, his club nearly went bust last year; most are struggling to pay the bills, let alone equip stewards with radios and maintain CCTV and the public address. “I know of some clubs where lack of funding has meant the ground and safety systems have been allowed to deteriorate. I fear therefore it will not be too long before there will be a serious incident at a lower league ground where the main contributory cause will be the lack of proper maintenance.”