Festival security search powers. With the festival season about to start this a probably a timely reminder of the search powers that festival security staff have at music festivals.
Festival security are not police officers. Festival security do not have the power to search you or your property. Festival security have no power to search your car or your tent. Festival security do not have the power to use force to search you. You are not required to give your name and address to festival security. The only power that festival security have over and above any citizen powers is that of refusing you entry to the festival, or asking you to leave.
Festival security will argue that it is a condition of entry that you consent to be searched. What that means is that if you do not consent to be searched then the consequence is that you may be refused entry to the festival by festival security.
You can withdraw your consent to be searched at any time before or during the search. This is your legal right.
Some festival security staff now use passive drugs dogs to sniff you. If a festival security dog indicates that you may have drugs you can still refuse to be searched by festival security.
If a member of festival security uses force in order to search you without your consent , then this unlawful and is an assault. If this happens then you should report the matter to the police. This can be done at any time.
The festival security powers to use force to search are the same whether inside or outside the festival – none.
If you are arrested by police following an unlawful search by festival security then you should make your solicitor aware, as this is potentially a defence if the evidence was obtained unlawfully.
Festival security have also been known to cut off wristbands that have been lawfully purchased by the customer. If festival security use force to do this, say for instance your hands are in your pockets or in the air, then this is also an assault.
If you are assaulted this year at a festival by festival security be sure to ask the person who assaults you for his name. Report the matter as soon as possible to the police. It would help the police to identify him if his photograph was taken also.
Festival security do have the same powers as every other citizen. These are, where an indictable (can be heard at crown court) offence has been committed; they can arrest someone if…
• The person is causing physical injury to himself or others
• The person is suffering physical injury
• The person is causing loss of or damage to property
• The person is absconding before a constable can assume responsibility for him
These powers only exist where an indictable offence HAS been committed. There is no mention of searching.
The police do have powers to use force when searching, and can require the removal of clothing.
The police to not have a power to cut off wristbands on behalf of the festival organiser. This has been successfully challenged in the past. Unless the police want to seize the wristband as evidence of an offence then they have no power to use force to take it. Police officers work for the Crown not festival organisers.