Are music venues and festivals safe for everyone?

Over the past decade, I’ve attended 37 music concerts and festivals across the UK. Throughout the years I’ve noticed many venues lack security checks on disabled guests and many public areas surrounding the venue are not very secured with guards, stewards or police officers. Following the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, I expected to see heightened security at all music, sport and theatre venues across the country. So, are music venues and festivals safe for veryone?

Security checks on disabled guests at music events

When I’ve attended many live music events, I’ve noticed some security guards don’t bother doing bag checks on disabled guests and it can vary on what type of concert it is. This was noticeable at my recent three trips to Wembley Stadium in London.

My first visit was to see the Spice Girls. My friend and I had three bags between us and the security guard wasn’t bothered in searching any of them.

My second trip was to see Bon Jovi and one security man outside had a brief look at my handbag and the other bag on my wheelchair. He then put exemption stickers on them both meaning when I present my tickets at the venue entrance, the security guards do not need to search me.

My third trip was to see The Who. This time they checked my bags outside and at the entrance.

I found it strange how none of the guards questioned why I had the two bags and the relevence of the items inside. Many disabled people require extra baggage for medication, equipment and clothing. But to be honest all I needed was the bottle to empty my catheter, straws for drinking and wipes to clean my fingers after eating. Yet they stilled allowed me to attend with the extra bag.

On a couple of occasions, I didn’t go through security at all. I specifically remembered this at The O2 in 2016 when a security man took us through a side entrance, down a backstage corridor and straight to our seats. Also at Reading Festival 2014 , my friends and I queued up at the security gate then a few minutes later, a security guard spotted us and let us cut the queue without being checked.

I know this may look awesome like we’re VIP’s. However I do have concerns.

Firstly we want disabled people to be part of equal society but if we keep getting away with breaking security rules at venues, we are not being treated as equal citizens.

Secondly, I’m sure 99% of disabled people are good citizens who wouldn’t break the law. But that doesn’t mean to say that every disabled person is perfect. Disabled people are just as likely to commit a crime just as much as non-disabled people.

Thirdly, this could encourage people to fraud the accessibility facilities at venues and pretend to be disabled to get easy access into a venue without security checks.

I would strongly suggest all disabled customers are thoroughly searched at security gates and if they require additional baggage for their needs, they disclose this when purchasing accessible tickets.

Security outside music venues

Although my vision is poor, my thoughts on this topic may not be accurate. At some venues I’ve noticed there is a lack of security outside the venues and in the entrances before you enter the security gates. There is also a lack of security at some venue car parks, particularly at the end of concerts.

When leaving the Wembley Stadium car park after Spice Girls and Bon Jovi, there were very little to no stewards controlling the traffic. It took us over an hour to get out the car park. Whereas after The Who concert, the traffic appeared to flow more smoothly and we were out in 5 minutes.

There is also a campaign for a new law to force large venues to increase security measures following the Manchester Arena bombing, which killed 22 people. It will be named Martyn’s Law, named after one of the victims, Martyn Hett. His Mother, Figen Murray, started a petition for changes in security, which received 23,000 signatures. The law is expected to be formally considered by the government soon.

Overall, I will never stop attending concerts and festivals but it is important to stress that more security checks are required to everyone no matter their age, gender, race, religion or have a disability.

Have you attended any live music events that lacked security? Or do you work at a music venue and want to give us your thoughts on what I’ve mentioned above? Please share in the comments box or on social media.

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Published by Rock For Disability

This blog follows my life as a disabled person, reports disability news, share music reviews, give advice pieces, shows multimedia content plus much more!

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