15 February 2023
Of the four million visitors who pass through ExCeL’s door every year, most will typically be day-trippers – attending for their chosen event (perhaps travelling via the Elizabeth line) and aiming to arrive after 9am before setting off for home Ahead of the commuter rush.
But whilst this is the norm in the events sector, when it comes to event and venue security it’s a very different story.
As well as its 100,000 sqm venue - the largest in London - the 100 acres of ExCeL’s campus are monitored and patrolled 24/7, 365 days a year. There’s no time for downtime, or off-peak, and requires a dedicated, co-ordinated and skilled team to ensure the wellbeing, safety and security of everyone who visits the venue.
One of those team members is Victor Koroma. Born and raised in south London, Victor studied IT and Media Production, before discovering and moving into the security industry. “Initially, I began working in security part time during university, but it became something I did more and more of,” recalls Victor.
Having joined ExCeL in 2019, Victor has quickly worked his way up from Security Officer to Security Duty Manager under the stewardship of the venue’s Head of Security Henry Havis.
“When I joined ExCeL it was obvious from the off that this is not just a job; it’s a career,” continues Victor. “There’s always room to grow and we’re given so much training to help us develop both personally and professionally. From CP [Close Protection] and SCaN [See, Check & Notify] training, through to trauma first aid and counter terrorism, our team is constantly aiming to better itself.”
The training is an essential part of Victor’s – and the team’s – role at ExCeL where the security officers are nearly always the first responders to all manner of situations from assisting visitors with directions through to responding to more serious or even criminal incidents.
But modern event and venue security is a demanding role, with officers working 12-hour shifts and often dealing with instances outside of the event realm, even the very unlikely possibility of a terrorist threat.
“We train and simulate for all manner of scenarios that we could potentially face in the line of duty to help us prepare and do the best job we can. We work very closely with the Met police and other local authorities to ensure we have the best information, intelligence and best practice, and all complemented with systems such as high-grade CCTV, radio comms and the Halo Network app.”
Of course, Victor and the team can never predict the incidents they will encounter be it in or outside the event world. “It’s very unpredictable which I guess is part of the attraction. One day you might be confiscating inappropriate fake weapons from someone attending Comic Con, the next you might be performing lifesaving first aid on a member of the public who has gone into cardiac arrest.”
“No two days are ever the same and it’s great that we have people [Mental Health Ambassadors] at ExCeL to talk to about these things. I also have a very understanding partner!”
Victor and the numerous security officers, controllers and K9 units at ExCeL all work hand-in-hand –often in the shadows - to provide the best possible visitor experience and to ensure events run smoothly and safely.
“I don’t class myself as just a security officer…it’s so much more than that.”