Benn Stays On Criminals’ Case

Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn believes the national crime conference his company hosted in May was so worthwhile that he’s organising a follow-up.

Outdoor events organisers including Glastonbury, Download, Isle of Wight, T in the Park and the V Festivals as well as security companies and police forces will be invited to Crime At Major UK Music Festivals. It will take place at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre at the Madejski Stadium in Reading Jan. 25.

It will be co-chaired by Benn – who runs Reading, Leeds and Latitude festivals and helps with Glastonbury – and Chief Supt. Andy Battle of West Yorkshire Police.

Festival Republic is covering the costs of the conference and it is free for delegates to attend.

The agenda includes crime trends and tactics during the 2009 season, intelligence-sharing systems and results, touts, bootlegging, theft from tents, fake ticketing Web sites, organised criminal networks and the connections between touts, drugs and tent theft.

The morning session will be structured around working groups divided by agency, such as police forces, security companies and promoters in separate groups, to review crime during the 2009 season and whether intelligence sharing worked for them, and how it might be improved in the future.

The afternoon session will include short presentations from a number of speakers including Battle, Reg Walker from Iridium Consultancy, Charlie Brownridge of Spindlewood CCTV and Colin Rodger of Scotland’s DF Concerts.

Last year’s inaugural conference developed from the need to combine operational expertise and experience to combat what appears to have become organised and strategic crime at UK music festivals.

The intelligence-sharing system during the 2009 festival season led to a more coordinated approach to tackling crime.

“The follow-up conference will be an opportunity for promoters, security agencies and police forces to review our progress and take the next steps to further develop our intelligence sharing systems so we can make greater efforts in 2010 and beyond,” Benn explains. “Organised crime is a real concern for the festival industry and it’s crucial that we keep the momentum going on these initiatives.”