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Security

One small incident at Mexicon 2 highlights an often ignored cause for concern - convention security. A hotel wall-mounted house phone disappeared from the space beside the lifts on the Saturday and only re-appeared after it had been noised abroad that it would be incompatible with the British Telecom system. So, in the end it all worked out fine. But at Albacon '85 the same thing happened to two house phones in the main foyer. They never showed up again. It was partly the fault of the hotel using phones connected by a standard BT jack into a wall socket, but there is a real problem with security generally.

Much was made of the heavy handed approach taken by people not imbued with fannish values who did the security for Seacon '84. They seemed to think everyone was guilty until proved innocent. They did not hesitate to challenge anyone who appeared not to be obeying the rules of the convention as they had been given them. So they asked to see badges, and tried to evict anyone without one. Nothing wrong in that is there? Everyone knows that you MUST wear a badge at a convention. They had the right attitude, but, for fans, the wrong approach. I'm afraid that the days of the small convention where everyone knew everyone else are fast receding and working on the assumption that everyone will behave like a good fan is fast becoming dangerous. At present I don't see any need for gun-toting professional security guards at every con, but committees should definitely have a more visible security presence. All this involves is a rota of committee and/or gophers wandering around checking everything is ok, especially in the bar and late at night. Not looking for confrontation, merely reminding people that they need to conform to the minimal rules laid down to safeguard their own enjoyment of the convention. Obviously, the larger the convention, the more important security becomes. The Worldcon will be employing a security firm to patrol secure areas at night and a fan security team looking after the programme areas and bars. The Worldcon has so many people attending that it really needs the professional approach, and can afford to pay for it (3.50 per hour before midnight, 4.00 after). Soon the Eastercon may require to do the same - Beccon '87 suffered the theft of a 500 sound mixer and some other items. It may even become a condition of insurance that adequate security cover is provided.

So, at conventions, if someone asks to see your badge, don't get huffy and say "but, I'm famous! How dare you challenge me!", just apologise for not displaying it and congratulate them on doing their difficult job well.


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This page updated on 09 July 1999