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BBC investigation reveals ‘sham training courses’ for event security guards

The legal counsel for the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing told the BBC he was "extremely concerned" about the safety of the public when attending events.

By Will Richards

security guard
(Picture: Pexels)

A new investigation from the BBC has shed light on “sham training courses” that provide fraudulently obtained licenses for security guards working at public events.

The investigation from BBC Radio 4’s File On 4 programme saw an undercover reporter apply for a series of training camps for security guards, which would give them licenses to work in venues across the UK as part of SIA (Security Industry Authority) regulations.

SIA regulations set out a mandatory course of at least six days is required to obtain a license, but as the BBC report reveals, the undercover journalist was offered four courses shorter than this time, with one of the courses being completed in just one-and-a-half days.

The report adds that first-aid training and door supervision were amongst the required elements of the training to be removed from these particular courses.

At one course in east London, the reporter was allegedly told that they could begin the six-day course on day five, and that the trainer shared anecdotes on painful ways to “kill and be killed”.

Police forensic investigators seen outside Brixton Academy after a crowd crush during an Asake concert in Brixton. (Photo by Alamy/Thabo Jaiyesimi / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

In response, the trainer denied the allegations and said he was dedicated to “upholding ethical standards in all aspects” of his work and life.

The institution’s boss denied that the organisation offered reduced courses and did “not accept” the allegations of sub-standard training exercises.

Responding to the report, Paul Greaney – legal counsel for the 2017 Manchester Arena bombings at an Ariana Grande concert – said he was still “extremely concerned about the safety of the public attending events,” and that if the security at the 2017 event had been adequately trained, it could have made a “decisive difference” to the tragic outcome of that night. “What I’ve just seen is the complete opposite of that situation,” he added of the new report.

The SIA added that they are to assess the evidence provided in the investigation, and said in a statement: “We are determined to ensure poor practices are rooted out and support the majority who operate to good standards.”

The report comes as legendary London venue Brixton Academy has been closed since December of last year, when security worker Gabrielle Hutchinson and mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo were killed in a deadly crush at an Asake concert. A third person, who was seriously injured, remains in hospital. In January, Lambeth Council suspended the venue’s license for three months, whilst investigations into the cause of the crush continued. In April, the Metropolitan Police applied to have the license permanently revoked.

Last month, it was announced after a license hearing that the venue would be allowed to re-open and retain its license if 77 “robust” new safety rules were met.