With the Federal Government announcing an increase to the national terrorism alert level in Australia, public venues and event organisers have responded with a ‘ramping’ up of security protocols across their operations; particularly throughout the footy finals and into the upcoming summer event season. Such changes may include increases in labour force security and police numbers, a tightening of restricted items policies, more stringent bag searches, and other additional layers of security screening and monitoring. The upshot of such changes will be an impact on patron queue times on entry and a need to inform customers to change arrival habits at the event or venue. As reported in PerthNow, Perth’s Paterson’s Stadium have responded to the increased threat levels by increasing security personnel at matches, and implementing a public information campaign advising patrons to expect the heightened security presence and arrive to the venue earlier. Other venues across the country are doing the same. Patrons are also encouraged to monitor people around them and inform police or security of any suspicious and vigilant behaviour.
The unfortunate effect of encouraging patrons to report suspicious behaviour is that on some occasions they may not always get it right. As Fairfax Media reported, at an NRL match in Sydney last month, three men of Middle Eastern appearance were pointed out to security by a fellow spectator for allegedly using their mobile phones in a “suspicious manner”. It was reported that the venue’s security detained the men for a period on the basis that they were using their phones in a way that “did not match what was happening on the field”. While the men were released after being questioned by police at the venue, they are now seeking legal advice.
The need to ensure safety and reassure the public at larger venues and events will increase the challenge for venue and event operators to not target specific racial groups, whilst encouraging all patrons to be vigilant. While the international security situation continues to evolve, tolerance and vigilance are imperative.