Revealed – Ricoh Arena’s Olympic security secrets

editor

ODA, PSA and VSA are acronyms which have become a daily part of Vaughan Pollard’s vocabulary.

The Ricoh Arena – or the City of Coventry Stadium as the venue will be known throughout the Olympic Games – is working alongside the London Organising Committee for the Paralymic and Olympic Games’ Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to introduce the measures needed to operate 12 Olympic football matches in eight days.

It involves a huge amount of planning for deputy safety officer Vaughan, safety officer Arthur Barrett and their staff – but they have plenty of experience of organising safety and security for football matches since the Ricoh Arena is the home of Coventry City Football Club.

With meetings taking place nearly every day as the countdown to the first Olympic game at the City of Coventry Stadium on July 25 moves ever nearer, Vaughan continues to work with LOCOG to ensure every potential procedure from a security perspective is in place.

“We started planning the week we were notified the Olympic Games would be coming here which was in June 2009,” he said.

“It will be business as usual within the football stadium. It is the same safety operation we use on Coventry City match days but there will be some Olympic overlays on top of that.

“There will be 100 per cent pat-down searches of everybody that comes in on match day – every man, woman, child and the disabled – whether they are coming in through the turnstiles, the hospitality areas or to work here.

“At the front and back of the building and two staff access points there is going to be Personal Screening Areas (PSA) which will be like airport-style security. There will be arches and a conveyer belt to put all your personal belongings in a tray and you will be patted down before walking through the arches. Then you will pick up your items, show your ticket or staff accreditation and in you go.

“On the turnstiles there will be pat-down searches but before you go through the search area you will put your belongings in a plastic bag which will be checked by the steward to make sure you are not carrying anything you shouldn’t be and then you will be allowed access.

“LOCOG has a no bags or food policy and you can also only bring in fluids under 300ml along with flags which are two metres by one metre and they have to be proper flags – no painted bed sheets!

“There will be plenty of food and drink kiosks open throughout the concourse areas just like at a normal Coventry City match or when we have concerts.

“The turnstiles will be opening two hours before kick-off whereas normally it is one-and-a-half hours so we are advising everyone to come early.

“A major difference is that there will be no parking in our on-site car-parks whatsoever and that includes staff. A Vehicle Screening Area (VSA) will be located in the turning circle on car park A which will be for outside broadcasting vehicles only and only those who have been given prior arrival will be allowed to enter the site.

“Each driver will be given an allotted time to arrive and their vehicle will be checked over by X-ray machines and mirrors underneath before it is sealed and then the driver will go through the PSA.

“These will be the only vehicles allowed on-site because there will be a road closure on Judds Lane leading up to the venue although businesses around the site will be open as usual.

“Unless you have accreditation or a match ticket then you won’t get into the stadium so everyone needs to buy their tickets beforehand. “As is the case with other major events taking place, there will be an opportunity for people to be dropped off and picked up by the Tesco service road which is only a short walk away from the Ricoh.”

The massive security operation means an extra 200 security personnel will be involved compared to usual match days, taking the total to 450, and a strict accreditation and vetting procedure was started by Vaughan in January.

“I am really looking forward to it. It is going to be a fantastic experience.

“We have a great team of people here at the Ricoh Arena working hard in all departments to make sure this is a superb success and that everyone who comes along whether they are a player, match official, spectator or dignitary has a memorable experience.”

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