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Event safety

What is a Safety Advisory Group?

Safety Advisory Groups (SAGs) are usually, but not exclusively, co-ordinated by a local authority and made up of representatives from the local authority, emergency services and other relevant bodies. They meet at regular intervals, or when necessary,  to review event plans and their key role is to advise on public safety. They tend to be based on local authority boundaries but may be event or location specific, for example, Ipswich Town Football Club or Latitude Festival.

The role and purpose of a SAG is outlined in the Holding a public event leaflet (pdf, 220 kB)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a guide on the Role of a local authority Safety Advisory Group (SAG) (external website). This page also links to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Guidance.

SAGs do not have legal powers or responsibilities and are not empowered to approve or prohibit events from taking place. They provide advice to event organisers, who retain the legal responsibility for ensuring a safe event. (Individual representatives of organisations forming the SAG may have powers to require event organisers to comply with their legal obligations.)

SAGs exist to:

  • ensure public safety is built into the planning stages of events;
  • promote high levels of safety and welfare at events by sharing good practice and giving advice and guidance;
  • ensure event planners have considered any impacts on the community.

All Suffolk Local Authorities host a Safety Advisory Group (SAG), these are East Suffolk Council, West Suffolk Council, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council and Ipswich Borough Council . If an event will affect more than one district or borough then a Suffolk wide SAG is convened (Suffolk Event Safety Advisory Group (SESAG)

All the Safety Advisory Groups use the same Protocols and Procedures (see below). The protocols help to develop a consistent approach throughout Suffolk to reviewing the safety of events. They also provide a platform for the sharing of good practices in relation to public safety at events.

Suggested to be covered in the plan are:

(For smaller events not all of the heading below are relevant)

1.         Overview of Event/Review of Event Details

•           Date

•           Event Type

•           Insurance

•           Visitor demographics

•           Visitor Numbers (total and at any one time)

•           Site Plan

2.         Regulatory/Licensing Issues

•           Alcohol / Entertainment licenses

•           Facilities e.g. toilets

•           Waste management

•           Noise/Pollution Issues

•           Vendors, street trading etc.

•           Food Safety

•           Drinking Water

•           Public health/ infection control issues

3.         Emergency Services issues

•           Fire safety

•           Medical provision

•           Policing

4.         Risk - assessments and controls

•           Management

•           Extreme cold/heat, severe weather, flood risks etc.

•           Temporary Demountable Structures

•           Vendors - food / retail

•           Site Previous Use

•           Camping activities

•           Road based activities

•           Water based activities

•           Aeronautical displays (CAA regulated)

•           Vehicular displays

•           Animal displays / rides / livestock

•           Pyrotechnics

•           Fire

•           Safeguarding

•           External threats/counter terrorism

5.         Event Control, Stewards, Marshalls and Security Staffing

•           Event Safety Officer

•           Event management structure & Event Control

•           Communication methods

•           Staff numbers, deployment and shift impacts on staff levels

•           Steward / marshal qualifications

•           Event staff medical / fire fighting / security capability

•           Volunteers (age range / responsibilities & limitations)

•           Public access and egress (including disabled attendees)

•           Venue - crowd capacities and management

•           Crowd management

•           Notification of incidents

•           Routine for escalating and requesting emergency services assistance

6.         Traffic Management

•           Road Closures

•           Emergency Services routine access / emergency access routes / Rendez-Vous Points (RVPs)

•           Site access routes (ground surfaces)

•           Car parking

•           Pedestrian

•           Participants

7.         Emergency plans

•           Event Control declaration of ‘Major Incident’

•           Process for contacting the emergency services

•           Show stop routine

•           Emergency services access and RVPs

•           Nominal Forward Control Points (FCPs)

•           Event Control handover to emergency services / lead agency

•           Evacuation plan (evacuation time, exit capacities, holding areas)

•           Media

If you are organising a large event and want to engage with the SAG process then you should start the detailed planning and contact the SAG at least 6 months before the event .   

For smaller / charity events, the earlier you engage with the SAG the better, but if you can not make the timeline below, please still contact the SAG prior to the event for advise.

Time Action
6 months prior Contact local SAG using the Event Notification Form
4 months prior Draft Event Management plan to SAG
3 months prior Submit any road closure applications
3 months prior Submit any premise licence application
21 working days prior to a meeting. Submit the Emergency Management Plan and Risk Assessments for consideration by the SAG members.
  Attend a SAG meeting if invited to by the SAG Chair.
Minimum 10 working days prior Submit any Temporary Event Notifications
Event day Final safety briefing and risk assessment

There is extensive guidance available from many sources relating to planning for specific types of events. Event organisers need to use all the appropriate guidance when planning an event but the best website to look at initially is the HSE event safety micro site (external web page) aimed at helping organisers run events safely.

There is also an 'Organising a voluntary event: a ‘Can do’ guide' published by the Cabinet Office which gives a useful starting point for organising an event.

Links to some of the other local guidance available are given below, this list is not exhaustive and does not necessarily include all the available guidance for every type of event.

Inflatable amusement devices

Following the tragic fatality involving a child and an inflatable amusement device in Norfolk on Sunday 1st July 2018, and a further incident on an inflatable slide at Woking on 3rd November, where ten children were injured and taken to hospital, the HSE has published revised guidance for industry stakeholders and operators of inflatable equipment.

Fire safety

Risk Assessment documents are published by HM Government, click on the links below for documents covering various events:

Stewards / Security

Highways and traffic consideration

Apply to close a road for an event (external website)

Medical cover

Deciding on medical cover for your event - Ready reckoner (xls spreadsheet, 85KB)


Guidelines for the protection of children Suffolk

Safeguarding Children Board - Guidelines for the protection of children and vulnerable adults at organised events

Public safety

Advice on food safety, noise, construction of temporary structures, temporary event notifications and licences is provided by your local district or borough council. please check their website for further information.

Suffolk Volunteering Strategy

Community Action Suffolk finds suitable individuals to fill volunteering opportunities.

If you are planning an event in a specific district or borough please contact the appropriate area SAG co-ordinator using the Event Notification form which will allow the SAG to decide if they would wish to discuss the arrangements for your event.

West Suffolk

​01284 757400 


​ Commercial Environmental Health Team, West Suffolk Council, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3YU

East Suffolk

​0330 1620000


​ Food and Safety Team, East Suffolk Council, Riverside, 4 Canning Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 0EQ.

Running an event safely (external website)

Babergh and Mid Suffolk

​ 0300 123 4000 Option 6


​  Licensing Team, BMSDC, Endeavour House, 8 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2BX

​ Licensing large scale temporary events (external website)


​ 01473 433397


​ Service Group Support Officer, Ipswich Borough Council, Grafton House, 15 - 17 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2DE

If your event is to take place across more than area then please contact:

​01473 263610


​ Suffolk Resilience Forum, GFB3, Endeavour House, 8 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2BX

Police Contacts

Initially contact your local Safer Neighbourhood Team to discuss policing matters

 If you have a specific question regarding the planning or management of an event then ​

Event Planners should note the guidance links below provide a baseline from which you can develop your assessment and event management planning steps to incorporate within your Event Management Plan, Risk Assessments and any specific COVID 19 Risk assessments.

Please note there is additional guidance for specific employment sectors which may form part of the event activity and your management documentation that can be found within the Govt Guidance for COVID 19 & returning to work


There is a Covid 19 Suffolk Events Toolkit produced by Suffolk Public Health available here -


Event Industry Forum:– requires creation of a user account to access updated versions of its guidance.


Sports Ground guidance on social distancing – models can be applied in various settings and demonstrates how guidance above could be applied within an event setting