Republic Fights Festival Crime

Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn is organising a conference aimed at fighting crime at U.K. festivals.

Benn will host a gathering of festivals, police officers and security experts at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre, Reading Madejski Stadium, May 11. Attendance is free and the conference takes place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Festival Republic is backed by Live Nation and Ireland’s Gaiety Investments and runs British festivals including Reading, Leeds and Latitude.

The conference aims to be the springboard to a permanent national sharing of intelligence, crime prevention techniques and partnership working in relation to the U.K. music festival scene.

It’s believed to be the first opportunity for police forces and the key festival promoters and their heads of security to collaborate on a national level, although last year Radio 1 DJ and Bestival co-founder Rob da Bank said an increased dialogue on crime was one of the main aims of the new Association of Independent Festivals (AIF).

Bestival is one of the festivals invited to the first conference. Also invited are Glastonbury, Leeds, Reading, Latitude, Rockness, Download, Donnington, Isle of Wight, T in the Park, T4 on the Beach, V Festival, Womad, Glade, Creamfields, Secret Garden Party, Global Gathering and Ireland’s Electric Picnic.

The speakers include Chief Supt. Andy Battle from West Yorkshire Police, which works with Benn on Leeds Festival; Superintendent Adrian Coombs from Avon and Somerset Constabulary (Glastonbury Festival); Detective Superintendent Stephen Truick (Police Central e-crime unit) and Inspector Dave Griffiths (Thames Valley Police), who works on Reading Festival.

They will be joined by Reg Walker, Iridium Consultancy and Commercial Protection Unit, and Peter James from Event Intelligence.

The conference has been developed by Festival Republic working with Suffolk Constabulary from the need to combine operational expertise and experience to work together to combat what may have become organised and strategic crime at U.K. music festivals and, in particular, theft from tents.

Many U.K. music festivals suffered from an increase in crime levels in 2008 despite introducing more crime prevention procedures and increasing security staff onsite.

Festival Republic is inviting all U.K. festival promoters who run large-scale festivals and the relevant planning, intelligence and operational officers from each festival’s local police force.

The topics to be covered include theft from tents, ticket touting, bootlegging, the modus operandi of criminals, crime prevention techniques and methods festivals can use to share information.