Terrorism on Events: Do Event Planners Need to Worry?

Not a day goes by without more terrorism discussed. Do we need to be concerned about the events we organise? Kevin discusses the risks of terrorism on events with mister Ricardo Baretzky, president of the European Centre for Information Policy and Security and co-directorate of Cyberpol.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Not a day goes by without more terrorism discussed. Do we need to be concerned about the events we organise? I'll discuss the risks of terrorism on events with mister Ricardo Baretzky, president of the European Centre for Information Policy and Security and co-directorate of Cyberpol.


Hi Ricardo, welcome to our studio.  


Thank you so much for having me.  


We're going to talk about terrorism and specifically on events. Do we need to worry as event organisers?   


Absolutely, in our organisation we monitor risks on a global scale. We have seen over the last 2-3 years that... We have different types of events. We have the event we call low-risk. They are events maybe for bankers, for the ordinary business group. But then we have a group of events that has slowly emerged and that are becoming a multi-million business. For example counter-terrorism events. That has been put into the context of a marketing scheme where they have maybe 100 or 200 or 300 companies exhibiting the military equipment, the policing equipment... And those are the ones that are becoming a bit of a concern. And the reason is very simple for that. It's because policing service is not really involved in those events across Europe. And it raises a concern about how well these organisations are planned and whether they are really in the domain of private events or in the domain of state events. When you have a few thousand people turning up at these events, that poses a risk to the mass. With the general private events we don't have that problem because there is no risk for state security involved.  


But what about a concert of Lady Gaga, for example? To me that also seems like a valid target, because there are a lot of people together.  


I think you have a very good point there. Yes indeed, some of these events have in the past proved to be a potential risk. Particularly when a celebrity is politically involved. Then that should be taken caution of. And most of these events are very well organised when it comes to the involvement of the local governments. For example Lady Gaga, when she does the concert there's a few million people at the concert so the state is forced to involve the policing services to a certain degree. But when we speak about these mushroom events, they are a sort of backdoor events, they are springing up in the interest of finance. Some of these events make anything between 10 to a 115 million euros per event. And they are events which are becoming a lucrative presence. We've found from research and also participation that they are often not well monitored and in most cases there is no participation of governments at all.  


If you were an organiser of such an event, what should you do to make sure you have a safe event?   


Well, it's a bit of a catch 22 situation, because we've found in some of the events we are presently speaking about terrorism and we have sometimes maybe 10 or 12 presidents present from all over the world. And we've found a catch 22 organisation because sometimes the organiser does inform or ask the support of the local policing services, but we've also found in most cases that the policing services from that particular country, for example England or some other region simply neglects the importance. But we are very concerned about this growing risk because |more of these events are becoming open to the public. And the ones we see now are becoming totally open to the public. So they're not secluded for people in that domain of practice. They are actually open to the consumer. Everybody can walk in. And that's where the danger is, because if you have an event like the upcoming counter-terrorism summit in London, and you have roughly 6,000 to 8,000 people in two days there, it's very easy for terrorist organisations to make their statement during such an event. Because they will achieve all the positions, including that of state risk. So we are very concerned about this development across Europe.  


Is there anything that you can do on such an event? Do you need to screen everybody that's coming in?   


It's not so much a question of screening the people that are coming in. It's more a question of how does security manage? When you have these types of events where there is equipment on the soil of the event in part of the exhibition, you need to take more strong measures. And when you open the door and there's no strong measures of either screening but also at the same time monitoring, then you stand the risk of a radicalist coming in and doing the things he wants. And that's a real big danger we're seeing across Europe.  


Okay, but if you're just organising a business party, we shouldn't worry too much?  


Absolutely not, I think we must understand what is important. What do terrorists want to achieve? They want to systematically break down the state security of a government. Not even the police. The target is not the military. The target is the state security. So any private event that has no effect or interest in state security or any relation should not be too concerned about it.  


Thank you Ricardo for coming over.   


Thank you so much.  


And you at home; thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week!