Secure in the knowledge...

If you go down to the festival today... In a special report, Matt D enters the murky world of security.

Submitted by Freedom on November 2, 2005

You're sure to notice the large numbers of security guards in their various brightly coloured polo shirts and high-visibility jackets. Many festivals including Glastonbury, Reading, and the London anti racist one day free festival (Rise) employ the Glasgow based Specialised Security(sic).

If you look a bit closer you'll notice the different types of personnel offered by Specialised, starting with the normally friendly, mostly young working class men and women in the yellow shirts who are of average build.

Then you get the supervisors resplendent in their red shirts, they are a mix - many are recruited from among the yellow shirts and are fairly similar - the others though the big blokes are recruited from the blue shirts, these are the ones you see at the front of the main stage enthusiastically pushing people away, or pulling them over the barriers and dragging them round the back, they're the ones who speed around Glastonbury looking for fence jumpers and blaggers and forcibly ejecting them.

There have long been horror stories from festivalgoers about the enthusiasm for physical force among some of the security. This summer I spoke to many of the Specialised guards at several different festivals, and heard about the woeful conditions they work under. The yellow-shirts are casual workers who are paid around £40 per day for twelve to fourteen hours, and on actual festival days they can be made to work from 6am to finish, which if they are forgotten by their supervisor means doing 24 hours of more.

Out of the £40 the guards have to pay for their accommodation (in stifling and cramped portable cabins*) and food. In their compound they are provided with a bar which sells beer and fags and is owned by the company, therefore allowing Specialised to take even more money back. A lot of guards had stories about colleagues who had fallen asleep on night shift or been found drinking (understandable with those hours) on duty, it's like in the army, you get two choices, either get put on report or get given a beating from the 'Dream Team' - these are the blue shirted guards who are mostly recruited from among Rangers football hooligans, and loyalist thugs.

If you are discovered committing a worse transgression or falling asleep one too many times then you get beaten and driven off site and dumped in the middle of nowhere with no money and no hope of getting back on to the site. While all this is going on, the company's managing director who attends all the big festivals with his 'team' can afford to attend every single Glasgow Rangers game whether at Ibrox or Nou Camp.

*In an effort to protect their 'brand integrity', Portakabin have prohibited the press from using the brand name as a generic term.