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Authorised Professional Practice

This page is from APP, the official source of professional practice for policing.

First published
Public order public safety

The organisers of an event have overall responsibility for its management, including the responsibility for public safety. The Health and Safety Executive’s ‘The Purple Guide’ to health, safety and welfare at music and other events provides guidance for event organisers.

National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) operational advice is being prepared and will be available here once developed.

Police forces should determine whether there is a need for a police presence at an event. A safety advisory group should act as the first point of reference for all those who are intending to organise a public event.

Safety advisory group (SAG)

The SAG provides advice and guidance on specific areas of responsibility for organisers and other agencies involved in organising a public event. It should be chaired by the local authority and should include senior representation from the police service, as well as other relevant organisations.

Public order public safety (POPS) commanders and planners should provide event organisers with contact details for the SAG, and can follow the crowd and event safety template to communicate with event organisers who have not engaged with the SAG.

POPS commanders should determine whether a police presence is appropriate and necessary based on a review of the available information and intelligence for the event. 

Further advice can be found in the UK Good Practice Guide to Working in Safety Advisory Groups.

Details for SAG arrangements in Northern Ireland can be found at Appendix J to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Service Procedure 15/2007: Policing of Football Matches/Sporting Events.

Police event safety considerations

The requirement for police attendance and action at an event is based on the need for the police service to discharge its core responsibilities. These are:

  • preventing and detecting crime
  • preventing or stopping a breach of the peace
  • traffic regulation (only under statutory powers relating to events)
  • activating contingency plans when there is an immediate threat to life
  • coordinating emergency response activities associated with a major incident taking place at the event in line with the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles (JESIP)

In certain circumstances, action by the police may be appropriate when a pre-planned event is considered to be unsafe or could potentially result in significant disorder. Such action could be (but is not limited to):

  • a letter to the organisers advising of the potential danger and their liabilities
  • use of section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986 to prohibit public processions (this does not apply in Northern Ireland – see guidance on banning a public procession)
  • application for injunction

The Licensing Act 2003 allows the police to make objections about a temporary event notice. These must be relevant to how the notice will undermine a relevant licensing objective.

Forces should refer to the national advice document when planning POPS events and operations. It provides information to support forces developing policing operations, in conjunction with event organisers. 

In addition to the NPCC events guidance, further information and advice can be obtained via the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA).

Forces should ensure that they have access to these documents and that they use them when planning relevant POPS events or operations and/or developing a policing response to these types of events.

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