Leeds Festival: Director admits security measures last year were ‘perhaps not good enough’

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The director of Leeds Festival has admitted security at last year’s event was ‘perhaps not good enough’

Melvyn Benn, from organisers Festival Republic, said while enough security staff had been employed and the event was “safe”, the “quality” of service provided needed to improve. He told a group of Leeds councillors that standards across the security industry had fallen since the pandemic.

The revelation came in a wide-ranging public discussion about last year’s Leeds Festival at the city council’s licensing committee on Tuesday. The annual event sees tens of thousands of music-lovers flock to Bramham Park over the August bank holiday weekend.

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But asked by committee chair, Councillor James Gibson, if there had been enough security on site during the festival, Mr Benn replied: “There was enough. Was it good enough? Perhaps not. But that’s a different question.

28 August 2022.
Leeds Festival 2022 at Bramham Park.
Bring Me the Horizon on stage.28 August 2022.
Leeds Festival 2022 at Bramham Park.
Bring Me the Horizon on stage.
28 August 2022. Leeds Festival 2022 at Bramham Park. Bring Me the Horizon on stage.

“I think overall, the security provision not just at Leeds Festival but across the UK, at all sorts of events, dropped from pre-Covid to post-Covid. I think Covid had a bigger impact on the security industry than anything else I deal with. There was enough, there’s no question there was enough. How the public interacted with them is certainly something I’d like to improve.”

Asked by Councillor Gibson if the issue was related to “quality and training” rather than “numbers” of staff, Mr Benn replied: “That would be my assessment.” Further details about security at the event were not discussed publicly however, with the committee going into a private session later on in the meeting.

Similarly, all discussion about the death of 16 year-old David Celino at last year’s festival was reserved for the private part of the meeting. The Salford teenager is thought to have taken ecstasy before falling fatally ill.

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Councillors were advised not to ask questions about the tragedy during the public section of the committee as it was said enquiries into David’s death remain ongoing. However, Mr Benn did say that, as a whole, drug overdoses at last year’s festival had “significantly” reduced from 2021.

The festival chief also emphatically insisted the event was “safe”, following suggestions from one Labour councillor that some festival-goers had felt otherwise.