Police to use volunteer security staff at major events due to 'chronic labour shortages' in private sector

Police chiefs are planning to use voluntary security staff at major events as concerns about “chronic labour shortages” in the private security sector continue following the Commonwealth Games.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster

About 1,000 military personnel were drafted in to assist during the Commonwealth Games, with hundreds of those forming a “Venue Assistance Force” to help with security, as well as volunteer staff.

But there were issues with private staff and some reports of chaos on the doors of an early gymnastics event, with queues stretching outside the venue 15 minutes after the competition started.

Assistant Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police Matt Ward said he envisaged “future pressures” and wants the force to work with the private sector to identify gaps of support which can be filled by volunteers.

West Midlands police and crime commissioner Simon Foster asked Assistant Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police Matt Ward how the force would mitigate risks which were posed during the Games.

Mr Ward said: “There are some charity groups out there who provide equivalent security services, and they did a phenomenal job of being able to step in and to scale their support when we required them in some challenging times during the games.

“So I think going forward, I particularly want to do more work with some of these charity organisations, because I think they can offer support.

“Private contracted security isn’t just for the big events; it’s for every night and our night-time economy.

“So building up that close relationship with the industry, seeing where there’s additionality we can bring in from communities, particularly for the voluntary sector, and making sure we are absolutely aligned going forward, I think will be one of the big legacy issues that comes out of the games.

In a statement, Mr Foster said: “I want to place on record my thanks to West Midlands Police for running a highly successful security operation for the Commonwealth Games.

“It was not only a safe and secure Games, but also a friendly Games.

“Pre-arranged military support meant that various failures were mitigated during the Games.

“I am concerned however, that chronic labour shortages in the private security sector are increasingly causing issues at major events.

“This is something that the sector and the government need to give further careful consideration to.”

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