Surveillance, Trust, and Policing at Music Festivals

Kara C Hoover, Jeremy Crampton, Harrison Smith, J. Colette Berbesque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Music festivals are often the highlight of summertime, but are also spaces increasingly policed for drugs, pick pockets, sexual assault, and terrorist attacks. The pop-up nature of festival spaces creates a tension between organizers ensuring safe environments and festival-goers seeking community and fun. We conducted an online survey of festival-goers to determine their safety concerns and feelings about security measures. The biggest safety concern was authorities, including police, private security, and surveillance. We found significant differences between males and females. Females have more concerns about personal safety and males have negative attitudes about surveillance and security—perhaps reflecting a male privilege. The negative attitude towards surveillance and police is common across demographic groups but stronger in males. A striking finding is that 87% of our participants feel that the ethos of a festival best creates a feeling of safety, while surveillance changes the nature of these public spaces—56% of our respondents feel it creates a bad vibe and 44% say it causes anxiety. We speculate that this sentiment parallels the Defund the Police movement following the Black Lives Matter protests in the US—community is key to a safe city and surveillance is viewed as creating negative spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Mar 2021

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