“Set within the stunning surrounds of Henham Park, Latitude has been creating unforgettable memories for over 15 years. Let your curiosity guide you through the very best in music, dance, comedy, poetry, theatre, literature, podcasts, family activities and wellness”. So says the Latitude Festival’s promotional material for this iconic event – perhaps also suitably described as a family-friendly version of the world famous Glastonbury Music Festival.
As part of a week’s filming for PolicingTV with Suffolk Constabulary, Chief Inspector Matt Bodmer – the force’s Bronze Commander for the Festival – spoke to PolicingTV’s Founder and Publisher, Bernard Rix.
Matt has been personally involved in preparations for each of the past ten years’ events, as well as with its policing over those years, and has a real in-depth knowledge of the event.
Stood outside the Festival’s policing and security control tent, he tells us about the very substantial policing preparations for an event that, in effect, becomes “Suffolk’s fourth busiest town”.
Matt describes a range of policing work necessary and appropriate here. For example, he tells us that “previously, we’ve seen organised crime groups go in to camp sites [at other festivals] and steal phones, steal valuables. We’ve been able to get car index numbers, so then we’ve got an ANPR [Automatic Number Plate Recognition] operation on the roads that lead to the event, so then we’ve got to identify any vehicles that the criminals might be using to come and target this event. So we’re really trying to target harden the event.”.
On planning for the following year’s event, Matt tells us that, immediately after each year’s event “we have a debrief, we find out what went well, what didn’t quite work, so we start those conversations really early.” Core planning starts in earnest around six months before the event takes place.
Basic security of the event is handled by a private security company, who work closely with Suffolk Constabulary. Matt tells us that the security company employed for Latitude is “really trained, really professional, they go round to different events across the UK, they’re really used to dealing with lost property, lost children…” and very much more.
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