Owning and managing a venue for hire comes with considerable responsibility. This includes making sure that your venue is not used by extremists to spread their message of hatred and division.
To help you prevent this happening at your venue, we've produced guidance for booking / venue hire managers.
About responsible event booking
Hateful extremists seek to promote hatred and division in order to exploit vulnerable people into being involved in, or supporting, acts of terrorism. The promotion of hateful propaganda does not just happen online. Extremist groups are known to have exploited venues in order to influence and radicalise others into participating in, or supporting, terrorism.
If you provide a venue for events or conferences, it's of the utmost importance that you're aware of, and consider the purpose of, events taking place in your venue. You should consider whether the event raises concerns about radicalisation and / or terrorism.
This guidance will help you to take a responsible and appropriate approach to event bookings. If followed correctly, it can help you to protect your venue and vulnerable people from being exploited, while also protecting the reputation of your organisation.
Notes about the guidance
This guidance is designed to support booking / venue hire managers when taking bookings for events or speakers. It will help you to identify any associated risks which need to be managed before you agree to an organisation or individual booking your venue.
The decision about who at your venue should complete the guidance document and process is your responsibility.
This guidance will not apply to all events your venue hosts / facilitates. But it provides a useful framework for venue managers / booking managers to assess the risks if you have concerns or are unsure about an individual or group's intention to use your venue.
It's your responsibility to decide when to complete this document. We advise that you complete the decision-making process in a timely manner so you can use the information you've gathered to make an informed decision about whether or not to confirm the booking.
This guidance is designed to complement, not replace, your existing policies and procedures to manage booking events and speakers, and venue hire.
The decisions about whether to accept a booking and whether to take any further action is your responsibility. To allow for fair and transparent decision-making, you should gather basic information to help make a decision about allowing a booking.
Experienced venue hire / booking managers will quickly realise that this process will not be needed for the vast majority of events. But for prospective events which you have concerns about, follow the three-step decision-making process using the venue hire risk assessment (Doc):
Step 1 - about the event booking - who wants to make the booking at your venue? (use Section 1 of the venue hire risk assessment)
Step 2 - assessment and research – are there any risks from the person / group making the booking, or the theme of the event? (use Section 2 of the venue hire risk assessment)
Step 3 - making and recording your decision (see below for more information)
Making and recording your decision
When making your decision, make sure that the proposed event is in line with British values.
We advise that your venue does not permit events which:
- call for the death of British Armed Forces
- oppose fundamental British values including:
- the rule of law
- individual liberty
- mutual respect
- tolerance of different faiths and beliefs
- risk drawing people into terrorism
- are otherwise unlawful
The decision - refusing the booking
Once you've made a decision and documented it appropriately (according to your venue's record-keeping procedure), you should communicate it clearly to the person or group who made the booking, including the reasons why. You should be transparent, and be clear about your venue's right to refuse or cancel any booking. If individuals or groups have been dishonest with the information they provided when booking, you should mention this.
The decision - accepting the booking
Once you've made and documented the decision to accept the booking, you should inform the person or group who made the booking. You should also remind them of their responsibilities, including making sure the event is compliant with British values (as described above). You should remind the person or group that breaching these conditions, or any conditions in the venue hire agreement or health and safety requirements could lead to the event being cancelled.
If you have concerns about health and safety for a potential event, you can get advice from the Health and Safety Executive.
Considerations for accepting a booking
When you accept a booking which you've assessed as medium risk, you may want to impose additional conditions on the person or group holding the event, to reduce risk.
You may wish to consider:
- giving clear guidelines on the language to be used, or topics to be discussed, for example not allowing content which promotes hatred and division
- reserving the right to attend or send in attendance an independent observer or chairperson to the event (on behalf of the venue owner), who shall have the authority to suspend or cancel the event if necessary
- restricting the sale of alcohol or other products on the premises
- requesting copies of the presenter's / speaker's material, for example presentations or speeches, before the event, to be sure they're compliant with British values
- providing information about items prohibited at the venue, including banners, flags, leaflets, or placards
Documentation and data protection
It's important to record details of your decision-making process, including the decision made to refuse or cancel any booking, and the reasons why. Make sure information is collected, stored, and used in line with data protection laws, as well as your venue or organisation's record management policy and procedures.
If you need advice and support contact:
Middlesbrough Council Community Safety - email email@example.com.
Cleveland Police - call 101 for a non-emergency, or 999 in an emergency. Or find out more about how to contact Cleveland Police.
Charity Commission - use the register of charities to check that an organisation is a registered charity.
Health and Safety Executive - general guidance about health and safety at work.
Reporting hate crime:
- call Cleveland Police on 101.
- report online via the True Vision website (this can be done anonymously)
- call the police on 999 in an emergency