28 May 2024, 07:53

By EJ Ward

Our public spaces and cultural events have become militarized zones, overrun by hordes of intimidating private security guards.

This excessive security theatre cultivates more fear than safety, hamstringing our ability to freely enjoy the city's amenities.

Their very appearance is enough to raise alarm bells. Rather than a typical steward uniform, most of the security guards are outfitted in combat trousers bloused into boots and loaded vests bristling with empty pouches, one supermarket I visited last week was 'guarded' by a chap who looked like he was an extra from Call of Duty.

They look better suited for deployment to a warzone than overseeing a local music festival or event in a park.

This overly aggressive militarized get-up seems designed to intimidate and project maximum force, not reassure attendees.

One can't help but feel like they're strolling through an occupied territory instead of a public park on a summer day.

The needlessly belligerent security presence puts everyone on edge and creates a tense, uncomfortable atmosphere where there's no justification for it.

A softer, more approachable security team could easily achieve the same level of safety without making events feel like you're running a gauntlet of hostile forces.

Even major events of state aren't immune to this, after the Queen's death London's streets were covered in yellow jackets. Nevermind the Armed Forces and the police were on duty, we still had some chap from an events security company bimbling around.

My local council run an annual 'county show', not only do you have the hordes of yellow-jacketed security, but you also have the ninja version dressed like SAS troopers on the Iranian Embassy balcony.

Instead of a relaxed atmosphere, you're immediately confronted with hundreds of day-glo guards treating attendees as threats, and shouting at you to open your bags.

The bag checks are pure theatre - a half-hearted rummaging that somehow misses all jackets, pockets, and concealed areas but somehow finds a sandwich or a sealed bottle of water. If potential dangers exist, these slipshod screening procedures clearly won't catch them.

The same applies to London's major museums and galleries. Surly guards demand you open your rucksack while ignoring less obvious hiding spots.

But don't worry, I was reassured last week when I questioned a security guard as to what they were looking for, he proudly told me he'd 'done a course,' and pointed to his SIA license.

The inconsistent searching renders the whole exercise pointless security theatre.

Take the British Library as an example, their website states "our Security staff may conduct bag searches and body scans. At times of heightened security these searches may also include a body search," yet still two pensioners were able to bring in a hammer and chisel and allegedly attack the manga carta as part of an eco protest.

One can't help but feel this zealous security presence is more about crowd control and profiting than genuine public protection.

Local council events particularly exploit security as an excuse to confiscate outside food and drink, leaving attendees gouged by inflated vendor prices.

Undoubtedly, reasonable security measures are warranted for higher-risk scenarios. But too often now, the security system resembles a rent-a-cop farce more focused on overt displays of force than effective screening.

And we have seen countless examples, indeed written about them on the LBC website of security guards just standing by as shoplifters clear shelves of stock and walk away, never facing any consequences.

Rather than this excessive overreaction, a more intelligent approach is required - one respectful of legitimate security concerns while allowing the public to participate in city life without being treated as suspects.

If we don't push back against this overreach, public spaces will become no-go militarized zones.

London's vibrancy, culture, and openness depends on striking the right balance between prudent security precautions and draconian measures.

Excessive security theatre needs dialling back before it's too late.

LBC Views provides a platform for diverse opinions on current affairs and matters of public interest. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official LBC position.

To contact us email views@lbc.co.uk

QOSHE - I can't be the only one fed up with battalions of yellow-jacketed security guards at every single public event - Ej Ward
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I can't be the only one fed up with battalions of yellow-jacketed security guards at every single public event

35 1
28.05.2024

28 May 2024, 07:53

By EJ Ward

Our public spaces and cultural events have become militarized zones, overrun by hordes of intimidating private security guards.

This excessive security theatre cultivates more fear than safety, hamstringing our ability to freely enjoy the city's amenities.

Their very appearance is enough to raise alarm bells. Rather than a typical steward uniform, most of the security guards are outfitted in combat trousers bloused into boots and loaded vests bristling with empty pouches, one supermarket I visited last week was 'guarded' by a chap who looked like he was an extra from Call of Duty.

They look better suited for deployment to a warzone than overseeing a local music festival or event in a park.

This overly aggressive militarized get-up seems designed to intimidate and project maximum force, not reassure attendees.

One can't help but feel like they're strolling through an occupied territory instead of a public park on a summer day.

The needlessly belligerent security presence puts everyone on edge and creates a tense, uncomfortable atmosphere where there's........

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