Why our industry mustn’t overreact to the London Bridge attack

The London Bridge terror attack last week shocked the nation.

And it also had special resonance for event organisers as well, as the attack began at an event taking place at Fishmongers’ Hall.

The Cambridge University-organised event was marking five years of the university’s Learning Together programme – which focuses on prisoner rehabilitation.

Security at meetings and events has been a hot topic in the industry for the last few years – and for most organisers there will have been a “that could have been me” element to hearing about Friday’s attacks.

Every trade show I attend has education sessions on security and terrorism and venues I speak to insist their security levels are second to none.

At the same time, we’ve had numerous warnings that meetings and events professionals are too ambivalent to terrorism and are not doing enough to minimise the risks.

It’s a strange situation, mainly because the recent wave of terrorism has thankfully steered clear of our industry – until now.

It would be a perfectly natural reaction for organisers to look at the Fishmongers’ Hall attack and feel the need for more security at their future events.

But it’s also important to recognise the unique circumstances in play. The event was focused on prisoner rehabilitation with a list of attendees including people convicted of the most serious crimes.

The attacker, a convicted terrorist, was one of the attendees. Another attendee – and one of the people that fought back and helped detain the attacker – was a convicted murderer. These are not your common or garden delegates that will be in attendance at most organisers’ events.

The London Bridge attack is a one-off, complex case – and not one that is particularly useful for drawing conclusions for our industry from. It would certainly be wrong to make any kneejerk reactions on security measures at events in response.

As an industry, all we can do is carry on showing the same level of caution and common sense that we have become used to in recent years.