Event safety guide for event organisers

Last updated: 2 October 2023

1. Introduction

Buckinghamshire Council Safety Advisory Groups (SAGs) has provided this guide for organisers of public events in the area. Safety Advisory Groups are formed not to take over the planning of events but to coordinate and focus the advice and intervention of the members of the group leading up to organised events.

Entertainment events vary enormously in size, character and risk. This guidance is intended to set out the broad themes applicable to most situations. Therefore, not all of the advice will be appropriate to every event and organisers of large or complex events may need to seek more specialist advice and assistance.

Whether you are a volunteer organising a community event or a promoter planning a large event the hope is that this information will provide a basis for organising a safe event.

This guide sets out the basic principles of good safety planning; more specialist advice may be required along the way. Included are examples of good practice, forms, safety checklists and references for additional advice.

What counts as an event

There is no single definitive event description however the following may help to describe what we mean by an event:

An event in this context is usually a single instance with a commencement and finish date. The event may change the normal use or attendance at the premises; often but not exclusively held outdoors and may include temporary structures or buildings erected specifically for the purpose.

Gatherings and entertainment held in permanent buildings on a continuing basis are excluded. For instance, most cinemas and theatres and clubs going about their normal business.

About the Safety Advisory Group

The Safety Advisory Group (SAG) provides a forum for discussing and advising on public safety at an event. It aims to help organisers with the planning and management of an event and to encourage cooperation and coordination between all relevant agencies.

SAG is a non-statutory body and so does not have legal powers or responsibilities, and is not empowered to approve or prohibit events from taking place. Event organisers and others involved in the running of an event retain the principal legal duties for ensuring public safety.

Members of the SAG include Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service, National Health Service, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service and Buckinghamshire Council. Sometimes representatives of adjacent local authorities or emergency services will be invited to attend or comment on events planned in the Buckinghamshire area.

Meetings are arranged to consider forthcoming events and to give advice to organisers. The group’s main objectives are to:

  • promote safety and welfare at events
  • promote good safety and welfare practice in event planning
  • assure that well planned events in Buckinghamshire have minimal adverse impact on the local community

To achieve these strategic objectives we will:

  • act as the first point of contact for anyone organising a public event
  • assess notification forms, risk assessments, event management plans, traffic management plans and noise management plans
  • circulate completed forms to members for assessment and possible action
  • provide advice and guidance on SAG member's specific areas of responsibility to the organiser and other agencies involved
  • meet with organisers
  • chair the SAG and keep written records of meetings and ensure actions arising are clearly documented
  • will monitor events to ensure standards are maintained where necessary

The SAG is a non-statutory function and all comments and observations made are always advisory. Organisers do not have to attend SAG meetings, submit information or follow SAG’s advice. However, each of the constituent members is acting on behalf of their own regulatory authority and may use the advice of the group to support and justify independent, regulatory action under their own legal powers, including enforcement of conditions.

The SAG is not a licensing panel and the events considered do not necessarily require a specific licence. Advice regarding licensing is included but for specific advice the Licensing Team should be consulted directly.

The role of the SAG is limited to providing advice. It does not for example undertake risk assessments or prepare a safety plan for an event.

The advice provided will only relate to the immediate knowledge of the members of the group, based on recognised standards of good practice.

The SAG has limited time and resources therefore to ensure that these resources are well used, events judged to represent a low risk might not be considered in any detail. However, only rarely will SAG not be able to be of some assistance.

On occasion the arrangements for an event may be judged so poor or the potential for harm so great that the group cannot support the event. If this happens, the reasons will be set out in a letter to the event organiser. It is hoped this will be rare and is only advisory but failure to satisfy the local SAG may affect insurance arrangements and should be checked with the insurance provider. Formal enforcement by an individual representative of the SAG cannot be entirely ruled out.

For advice on what event information you should submit to SAG see Organising an event.