Safety concerns have been raised in relation to the number of people attending Metric at peak times. Students have reported annoyance over a lack of crowd control and properly trained staff, particularly at special events and ACC nights. The Union, however, disputes claims that Metric is unsafe.
A source told Felix that they had “fairly often” witnessed people being crushed or stuck inside for 15 minutes due to lack of movement. They also reported that people had been brought to tears by the “stressful” events. Felix understands that these claims are supported by photographic evidence. The Union said: “There have been no reports of any injuries in Metric or any other Imperial College Union spaces relating to crowding.” However, students have spoken to Felix about accidents that have occurred.
“A source told Felix that they had ‘fairly often’ seen people crushed due to lack of movement”
One student, Liam, told Felix about a particularly bad incident. He joined the queue to enter Metric on a sports night last year. Two security guards – one inside Metric and one stood in the doorway – told crowds on both sides to move back. The crowd swelled as more people joined the queue without anybody being able to enter or exit Metric. Students asked the security guards to open the fire doors in Metric, but were told that staff did not have the key.
“After a few minutes of people shoving past me, I started to get crushed. It wasn’t too bad but I could no longer raise my arms above my head,” Liam said.
“Then I noticed a girl very near to the doors starting to get really crushed. She was saying she couldn’t breathe. The security guard witnessed this but did nothing.”
As the crowd tried to push its way into Metric, the girl fell. Liam asked a student closer to the girl to help her up but they refused, saying it was “not my problem”. Again, the security guard was unable to act.
Liam stepped forward, yelling at people to move. He managed to grab the girl and drag her outside. “I think she had fainted,” Liam said. “Once we were outside she was hysterical.”
The Union told Felix that there was no risk of any harm at Metric. A statement from a Union representative said: “At peak times of busy evenings, clear procedures are in place to manage temporary congestion. Trained security professionals are located on both sides of the Metric door on busy evenings, monitoring and controlling capacity and customer flow.”
The Union added: “The doors from Metric (leading) directly to the quad are readily available for temporary use to ease capacity issues whenever required.” According to our source “bar staff are instructed not to open the fire doors on the side unless it is an emergency”. The Union said that the bar supervisor may “occasionally” temporarily open the side doors to ease crowd flow but the doors are normally kept closed to reduce noise levels in the quad (as per an agreement with Beit Hall). It added that in an emergency, “bar and security staff would lead a swift evacuation that would use all doors to safely relocate our guests.”
The Union also said: “The safety of our members is paramount to Imperial College Union and we would simply never operate a venue or event that posed a risk to our guests. All of the relevant authorities are confident that Metric is a safe venue with effective crowd management.”
Felix has heard reports that several ‘near miss’ incidents relating to the doors have been logged on Salus, the College’s system for monitoring health and safety. The College defines a near miss as “any undesired event where no injury occurs”, including observation of unsafe conditions and non-compliance with health and safety. Felix understands that these reports were discussed at Union Trustee Board at their meeting on the 26th October.
Discussions, which began before inquiries by Felix, are underway between the Union, Estates Facilities, and other College teams to find ways to “permanently upgrade our abilities to manage Metric’s access and egress capacity”. Suggestions include reviewing where security staff are located throughout the evening and expanding the Metric doors. According to the Union, “the Fire Office is clear that Metric has enough doors to significantly exceed the legal requirements for safety.”
Names have been changed.