Global Authority Peter Dalton Talks Security, Tour De France and mega events amid a pandemic

With challenges ranging from pandemics to terrorism to protests, thought leader Peter Dalton’s insights are valuable to any organization navigating the path of organizing safe and secure events moving forward.

The Innovation Institute for Fan Experience is proud to present the first in our video interview series with safety and security experts in sports and entertainment around the world. IIFX Global Strategic Advisor, Ross Halliday (former Interpol Security and Communications Advisor and multimedia producer) caught up with Peter Dalton, a global authority on protective security, event management and incident command just after this year’s Tour de France. Peter is also an International Alliance Partner with IIFX in the U.K.

Peter was heavily involved in the planning of this year’s Tour de France, and he shares his insights on that experience along with the future of gathering and technology and the global importance of an organization like IIFX. Watch the video above and/or read the transcript below. With challenges ranging from pandemics to terrorism to protests, thought leader Peter Dalton’s insights are valuable to any organization navigating the path of organizing safe and secure events moving forward.

Ross Halliday:

“As the sporting world starts to reimagine and redesign the return to competitive sport with the safe reintroduction of spectators, IIFX, through its interview series, is exploring the impact of COVID-19 guidance on safety policy, event management structures, and operations at major international sporting events.”

“Our expert this afternoon is Peter Dalton, an international protective security incident command consultant. Peter delivers command level training and provides keynote presentations on protective security concepts of operations around the world. He works with international clients to design, develop and deliver complex readiness and immersive exercises.”


“Good afternoon, Peter.”


“Good afternoon, Ross. How are you?”


“Very good, thank you very much for joining us. So here we have it, the Tour de France, 21 stages over 3000 kilometers spread across three weeks of almost nonstop cycling. It’s undeniable the Tour de France is a mega global event, and in any normal year, it takes an extraordinary amount of effort to put on, let alone during a pandemic. So, to kick us off, can you give us some idea as to what’s involved from a safety and security perspective in hosting what is the largest cycling event in the world?”

Peter Dalton:

“As you said Ross, it’s quite rightly a global mega event. Some would say it’s the largest sporting event in the world. Clearly it takes place, all across France has got a national dimension. It’s got an international cast of famous racers, 21 stages, and on a normal year pre-COVID I believe 12 million spectators watching the events. The 21 stages, the complexity of the routes, the International profile, all has to be significant. So, what we would say is the safety operation is clearly of international dimension, delivered primarily by the national infrastructure of France, which is really highly competence counterterrorism security capability. So, they would have a dedicated lead police officer. That officer, his names on the internet, was performing the senior lead role, and we’ve been involved since the end of last year.

And over the last month, this will have been a full-time strategic coordination. A security operation like this would not only involve the French, obviously Gendarmerie, it would involve the Ministry of Interior, and the French security agencies, primarily the DG SI, and the DG SE, that would be unified, and indeed again, the police would deploy a very senior police officer in a coordination role to coordinate across the prefectures and regions across France. And when we talk about major sporting events, as you know from IIFX, we talk about the three pillars of safety, security, and service. So, the security operation has to be planned in conjunction with the Tour de France organizers who are delivering the events and, in conjunction with many partners who are working towards the safety, security and service. The plan itself will be informed by international and national intelligence. There will be an intelligence fusion so from that picture, they can get into a detailed Tour de France threat assessment that we built on the ongoing national terrorism threat assessments for France. This will enable them to plan in detail, against a range of what we would call reasonable worst-case-scenario and to start to build a security plan. The built replanning, free briefing, free testing, and exercising and deployments across those 21 stages is an operation in itself. It requires extensive command and control and coordination and event management. So, there will be national strategic commanders that will link down to the regional commands, wherever you have that take place. And that will be very much multi-agency. Police, firemen, ambulance, military event organizers, and the local officials are working together to make sure that the information is in place.

The principles to security operations like this, are based primarily on internationally recognized protective security objectives, which are largely to deter an act of terrorism from taking place. It’s to detect terrorists and threat actors. It’s to delay their activity, if they do move to attack, and then to respond accordingly. And that’s discharged around layers that’s framed around the event itself. So, if we just take it as a root in between the barriers, clearly, it’s the most sensitive part of the operation so you would see the detailed protective security measures of people, processes and technology combining together. But as you move out past the barrier line, there are layers of security. And there’ll be security that you will see, high visibility police resources from the gendarmerie, the CRS, stewards and also, like coverts or the undercover policing activity, both in terms of people and technology. Those layers will cascade out from that route into the spectator areas, into the blocks and road closures and move outwards into the district itself and then up to a national level. What that allows the security operation to do is to identify hostile threat activity and respond and plan accordingly. And we really are seeking to be lucky to deter activity from terrorists through a multi-dimensional operation that combines lots and lots of layers of activity. One final point on this would be that the security operation is very much a responsibility of everybody. Whether it’s placed by a tour organizer, or race team spectators, the local communities are all encouraged to work together. There’s lots of ways that can be achieved. And very much, from the spectator point of view, it’s important that the spectator experiences are fantastically safe banks that they feel reassured, and the security they see, doesn’t inhibit their fan experience whilst attending the events, clearly that’s far more challenging in the world of COVID-19.”


“So, there’s a there’s a fine balance between the fan experience and mitigating safety, the safety and security threat. The impact of COVID-19, specifically with regards to the tour, but with all the sports that you’re seeing, there’s obviously a lot of modifications going on. Can you talk us through some of the impacts that you’ve experienced, that COVID has already had with regards to mitigating against the safety and security threat?”


“Yeah. Clearly, we all know in that in the safety, security profession, the event and sporting industry has been massively impacted on by COVID-19 items. As the global pandemic spreads, sporting events and events in general stopped. There were various forms of national lock downs across the world. And then, slowly but cautiously, the sporting and event sectors are starting to try and redevelop and reimagine new processes that enable safety, security and service to come together. So, there’s had to be complete consideration to emerging international tournaments and national COVID-19 guidance.

Applying that guidance to existing national General COVID-19 guidance itself, from the various public health authorities. And then, looking at the guidance and seeking to review, fundamentally, the safety and security policies and its impacts on the event in safety management’s command and control structures. Now there are specific roles for senior managers to manage the implementation of the overlay of security measures and safety measures. It cascades down through the fundamental reimagining of an event management plan, and the contingencies that support that, and what we’re seeing more of is the COVID-19 consideration. The application is taking a major share of planning, and delivery processes. However, what I would say is, it has to be integrated through the planning, through the commands, through the operational delivery through the review, to make sure that safety, security, and service are all delivered together.

One example of a security issue is crowded space events in iconic world locations where there’s ready access to big crowds of people and international media. They create a terrorist target, and certainly the threat increases with the more iconic the location. The more well known, the events, the more predictability in terms of being able to conduct what we’ll call hostile reconnaissance or attack planning, the more those threats can become real. So that’s a really important consideration. One of the things we have to focus is on crowd management. Crowd management clearly is a safety feature in terms of crowd densities and flows and crowd crushing, but also a security feature. One of the things that a football fan or a sporting fan or a Tour De France fan would experience would be going through layers of high footfall screening and search and pat downs and having their bags checked. Now clearly there is a conflict between maintaining social or physical distance, and also reducing the need to manage risk and transmission. So, if you were pre-COVID-19, there would be an active access control and search policy, where a sample, or large portion of the crowd may be searched manually by safety officials, or police depending on policy in the area of operations. It is not really safe, but it doesn’t mean for one second that we can’t not have an effective search operation. So there’s new guidance on that.

An example might be that we implement more screening, whether it’s the use of behavioral detection officers or using undercover officers or using technical measures, such as high-volume walk-through metal detectors and trying to be more prescriptive in how we deliver the tactics such as that. Also, trying to make sure one of the principles that works with security operations, is to make sure we can deliver on predictability. If security is predictable. It’s easier for threat actors to counter our protected security. So just trying to be flexible in implementing technology and looking at each part of the security operation, whether it’s personal technology, technological or physical and applying COVID-19 measures to a really fascinating area to be involved in.”


“Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. The importance of collaboration across the security sector in sharing best practices and coming up with better designs for the future. Can you tell us why the Innovation Institute for Fan Experiences is so important? At this time, working with regards to bringing people together under the space to come up with the best solutions possible to get fans back into the stadiums, back at race sides in order to keep sport at the forefront of communities?”


“Yeah sure very much so. Now sadly, we live in a world of global terrorism and over the last few years, I’m sure we’ll touch on this shortly, there has been an increase in threats and an increase in terrorist attacks. Now, if you go back 30 years to when I first joined the police service, security was pretty much down to the police, in whichever country you operate or maybe the military. Over the last 30 years has been a massive shift to professionalize, the private events management of major events, and sporting events. So, what you have done is a professional body of people who are not police, fire, military, or ambulance services running events. And in the last 30 years, and again it does vary between countries, there are more role requirements and in some cases legal obligation for major sporting events to be managed by private security professionals. So if you took, for example, a FIFA World Cup, or an IOC Olympic Games the tournament requirements would say that the host country would have to adopt a host country, the host city, a host for their new concept of operations for security integrated, and make sure that private security, police, law, military, Fire, and Rescue all work together in an integrated way. So what IIFX can definitely do, is start to bridge the gap between the private event sector and the professional international law enforcement agency community, a little bit like project stadia and Interpol, to combine the best knowledge and practices across the international policing community of 194 countries and designing training products and knowledge management sharing, My view, would be that IIFX can bring together all those agencies and people into a single affiliation and body, where they can have access to the best information, the best networks and really work together to deliver safety, security, and service of these large events.”

“IIFX can bring together all those agencies and people into a single affiliation and body, where they can have access to the best information, the best networks and really work together to deliver safety, security, and service of these large events.”

-Peter Dalton


“How important do you think the role of technology is going to be in getting fans back into sporting major sporting events, major entertainment events, and the major events all over the world?”


“Whatever walk of life or business you work in, technology always plays a key feature and just when we talk about the principles of safety, security, and service, we also talk about people, processes and technology for managing our events. So, the principles are the same. From a command and control or an event management team down to delivery of an event or sporting competition, technology will play a key feature.

The key thing to say is that technology is there in support of and joined up with other measures. Now clearly developments in technology, in all aspects of protective security, whether it’s technology that deals with a vehicle as a weapon or threat or technology that provides high footfall screening at an airport to counter preemptive attacks, or whether it’s explosive detection capability CCTV cameras and facial recognition. There is so much technology out there in the world of protective security. If you are a security professional working as part of a wider event management team, it’s clear that you identify, from my point of view, the protective security technical effect that you require and then seek to identify which technology can deliver that, and how it will work as part of your wide deployments.

The second point I’d make is that technology has to be certified to an international standard for the role it is going to perform. Now certainly in the UK, we work to be doctoring from the Center for Protection of National Infrastructure, the CPNI, and they will maintain a publicly accessible list.

I was on there this morning and that lists ranges of technology that’s accredited to security standards by sector. And by doing that, a security professional can make sure that they’re using effective equipment rather than emergency technology off the shelf.

Over recent years, we’ve seen an escalation in technology. Regarding drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles so the counter UAV technology, massive growth in that and again. Some people would say they’ve got technology that can detect track identify and defeat a drone. In most cases, that’s not going to be the case so understanding the capability is important. But when you get that no one person can have that depth of knowledge, it’s important as part of your event management team, you have a senior security coordination role or a security advisory role, built into that structure, and they can go and identify effects and advise on the combination of deployments and resources. and with regards to.”


“With regards to IIFX, whether you’re an individual or whether you’re representative of an organization. Can you tell us a little bit more about how and why one would want to join the Institute?”


“We think that if you are an event professional, the event professional sporting industry, event industry, many disciplines relate. Whether you are a security professional, a production manager, you know, a transport manager and planning agents, all working together is so important. One of the good things I think from the lockdown period has been the increase in networking. It’s been really a part of that most days, most people are on webinars, they’re doing their own learning and they’re networking through zoom, and other network capabilities so that network capability of IIFX is going to be phenomenal. It will be International, it will be global in its reach.

One of the things I’m particularly pleased about and passionate about is bringing together law enforcement, which is my former background, and event safety professionals together under that one area of the Institute to give networking opportunities.

The next thing it will do is it will enable you anywhere, around the world clock, to make contact with a fellow professional. So if you are somewhere wondering about a particular area of business, you can go to your network find a person have a chat, and people who is on the IIFX just like all the professional bodies, will gladly share information, discuss ideas and help each other to solve problems.

Another great thing to me is the IIFX will have an operational capability in terms of specialist consultancy to organizers and events to help them in their planning process, the delivery of their operations and making sure that our events are as safe as possible.

And then finally, one of the points or another key point is there will be a developing academic and training curriculum that will be focused on all levels of events and command and control for major sporting and general events. Whether you are a new person joining the profession, whether you are an experienced senior manager, whether you are a graduate at university, you will combine evidence-based practice into operational application and that curriculum is really, really exciting. It will ,in due course I hope, complement and coordinate with Project Stadia and Interpol, and you’ll make sure that safety and security professionals are having the very best training that’s been accredited and certified, so they know when they plan events, they’re using the best information and the best training to develop themselves and their staff.”


“How much of a surprise was a global pandemic? From a risk mitigation perspective, and changing the model, and changing the way that we look at not just physical threats to a stadium, but the threats that would prevent sports fans from getting inside to watch the sports?


“I think the principles of a global pandemic have featured on many countries national risk assessments, if they have a national risk assessment process, as the UK National risk assessment has had a pandemic type occurrence on there for a number of years.

Perhaps the scope and scale and complexity of COVID-19 overwhelmed the industry, and perhaps, the likelihood of a global pandemic. Certainly the speed and the impact hadn’t been planned for and dealt with, effectively, on a global stage, so the impact is there in general threats when we plan major global sporting events and also sporting events such as the Olympics for now on.

There are tournament requirements or the host country to have a comprehensive national risk assessments and threat assessments that they combine all of their security and safety infrastructure at a national level, coupled with international co-op cooperation to consider a all hazards approach.

What we don’t want to do is to focus going forward, solely on COVID-19, because hopefully that will pass, and we’ll return to a new form of operations and I believe that COVID-19 will pass in due course.

What we need to do is to think about all the hazards, all the threats. When we talk about hazards we’re talking about health and safety we’re talking about weather related incidents we’re talking about structural collapse. When I talk about threats, I’m talking about malicious threats such as terrorism crime protest of a disruptive nature, that’s not peaceful and matters like that. So what we should do is consider all of those processes, we need to have a systematic risk management process that can be dynamic, it can be applicable to all events, and it will seek to identify analyze and evaluate all of those different threats and hazards and then treat them effectively so that you can run your events to the safest possible manner.

In terms of terrorism. We have to focus on reasonable worst-case scenarios. Now since 2014 to 2015 there has been an increase in international terrorism, we’ll ask about comments on the genre today. If we look at France as an example. So, January 2015 Charlie Hebdo from Monday to Friday. there was a complex terrorist attack involved in assault rifles. First of all, an attack at the newspapers offices, it led to the two primary threat actors being on-the-run, leading to an international manhunts event led to an attack in the Jewish supermarket in Paris on Friday, where the French GI GU, and security forces successfully interdicted. Roll forward through that to November 13, 2015 that international terrorist act that started off on the Stade de Paris, with attempted suicide devices. It then moved into a complex and marauding attack into the center of Paris, the third district finished in the Batacan theater with hostage taking led to a massive amount of death and injury. Assault rifles had been used explosive devices teams of threat actors highly mobile. It showed us how terrorism and changed into internationally directed terrorism enabled terrorism and certainly inspired terrorism. What we then see again in France if we go forward to July the 14th 2016 Bastille Day, we saw a vehicle as a weapon attacking Nice driving along the Rue du Anglais in a 19 ton truck, and now we’ve seen since then, attacks around the world of a lesser extent of the complex nature, but an increase in what we would call low complexity, low sophistication attacks, and they will seek to target iconic locations crowded places major events were visit gatherings of people, high levels of security visible and on hand and seek to mount attacks that are easy to plan and hard to detect and at the moment we’ve seen attacks using knives or edged weapons attacks using improvised explosive devices such as Manchester Arena in 2017, a lot of attacks using vehicles or weapon driven into a crowd to cause casualties. Firearms depend on access to firearms, or combinations of those, and happening and occurring on a large scale most countries will have thousands of subjects of interest if they have to manage and building up to a major event or major sporting events. It has to be international and national cooperation using all of the available counterterrorism infrastructure, working together to try and prevent those attacks taking place.

And then as we say working on principles of deterring detaching disrupting mitigation response, if those events do take place having the capability and capacity to respond, extremely quickly, and that’s where there’s been a massive increase in that capability. So, if you take the general law enforcement agencies of the world. After Paris, 2015. It was a groundbreaking moment. So certainly, in the UK where I was based as a police officer. Working in specialist firearms commands. We would increase our general armed policing capability, we would deploy more armed officers on foot patrol and a vehicle patrol at sporting a crowded place events, we developed our counterterrorism capability in France you have units such as GI GU or the Raid Teams, you’re making them more mobile and better equipped, as more resources, you are developing your liaison with military fire and ambulance. You’re working to (in the UK), the joint emergency services interoperability principles, working together to manage these threats. Thankfully, attacks on major events are rare but they will always remain that threat. If you are planning in major international events, it has to be at the forefront of your planning. It has to be a detailed concept of operations. And what we should have to do is protect the security professionals, it really to contribute to develop those national strategies that address those key risks, and then work together to build integrated concepts of operations, which is a grand term for joint planning between the safety, security service to make sure the events pass off successfully.”

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