What is a Safety Advisory Group or SAG?
They are usually co-ordinated by a Local Authority (council) and made up of representatives from the local authority such as environmental health, licensing, emergency services such as police and fire departments, other relevant bodies and the event organiser. They may be event or location specific but otherwise tend to be based on local authority boundaries.
What does a SAG do?
SAGs provide a platform for discussing and advising on public safety and concerns at an event. They aim to help event organisers with the planning, and management of an event and to encourage cooperation and coordination between all relevant agencies.
They are non-statutory bodies and so do not have legal powers or responsibilities, and are not empowered to approve or prohibit events from taking place. However, they can raise their concerns the the licensing authorities. It is the event organiser’s responsibility to take any appropriate action to alleviate these concerns.
How does a SAG work?
The process of SAG meetings can vary dramatically between different local authorities. The most common process is that it’s down to the event organisers to determine whether there is a SAG, or similar arrangements, submit their event proposal for discussion and advice.
The guiding principle is that events presenting a significant public safety risk (whether in terms of numbers and profile of people attending, or the nature of the event activity and/or the challenge of the environment) should be considered for a SAG. However some local authorities may decide that lower risk events like community village fetes and funfairs don’t require one.
Attendance of the event organiser at SAG meetings may be voluntary or required by the Local Authority as a condition of using their land. There is however benefits to be gained from engagement in the SAG process from the outset.
Event organisers may be asked to extend their duty past the boundaries of an event site to include the impact on the local transport network and civil contingencies in the event of an emergency. The advice provided by the SAG and any decisions taken should be proportionate to the rick profile of the event.
Tips for how to manage a SAG
- As an event organiser always try and attend a SAG meeting. This is very beneficial for a few reasons. It shows that you are invested in the safe running of your event and is a great opportunity to meet the representatives in person of the Local Authority. The main benefit though is that you will be on hand to deal with any questions or concerns about your event there and then. This definitely helps to speed up the overall process and to help bring all parties around.
- Be honest about your intentions and what you’re planning on delivering. Don’t say or promise things that you think people who are sat around the table want to hear, as these may form some of the basic conditions of your license application and you will need to deliver on them.
- Be consistent with communication with the local authority and other agencies involved. The more you keep people in the loop with updates the less people will react negatively to big surprises.