Music festivals on terror alert

Nightclubs and festivals are both at risk of Isis suicide attacks

A senior anti-terrorism officer has revealed that music festivals, nightclubs and sporting venues have been placed on “high alert” for Isis suicide attacks.

Sports stadiums are viewed as easier to protect than a large open-air festival, like Glastonbury, on account of their smaller perimeters.

Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan police, who is in charge of the country’s protective security, said crowded entertainment events and venues were “right at the top of the agenda.”

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Neil Basu

The November Paris attacks led to many security experts identifying a trend toward terrorists attacking softer targets like the Bataclan theatre, the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya or the hotels in Mumbai.

Basu said an attack on a mass gathering, like a festival, had been prioritised over an attack on a hard target, such as a politician or the Houses of Parliament.

He said: “This is where you put a small town into a small area for a couple of hours. That’s exactly the same with large concert venues and much harder with a large open-air festival.”

Sports chiefs and event organisers were invited to an anti-terrorism briefing at Wembley last Monday by the deputy assistant commissioner. He said: “Music festivals are invited because they tend to have one big stage with high perimeter security.

“It’s kind of the equivalent [to a stadium], but even harder to control because their perimeters are much larger.

“The threat has become much more difficult [to counter] because it’s now potentially any time, any place, anywhere.

“These people are perfectly happy to target civilians with the maximum terror impact. Crowded places were always a concern for us, but now they are right at the top of the agenda.”

Adrian Coombs, Glasto’s security director speaking to The Times, said: “The Glastonbury festival thoroughly plans the event each year, where necessary with the support of the police, and puts in place all necessary measures to protect the public and maximise public safety.”