Hay Festival bolsters security following Manchester Arena attack

Hay Festival bolsters security following Manchester Arena attack

Hay Festival is stepping up its security following the attack on Manchester Arena this week.

Director Peter Florence told the BBC the changes to the festival, open from today (25th May), were the result of a "comprehensive review" of its security with Dyfed-Powys Police following the bombing. The UK terror threat level has since been raised from "severe" to "critical", its highest possible level.

"We have put in some measures that will make sure that the values and the joy that we celebrate in Hay can go ahead. It is very important for all of our visitors to know that they will be safe and that what they want to talk about freely and openly, which is what the people who attack Britain and the west most despise, is able to go ahead in the way that we want it to," Florence told BBC Radio Wales.

Specific security measures at Hay Festival will include an increase in staffing and police presence on site, bag searches and "structural changes" to the festival's entrance, organisers said on its website.

It has advised guests to allow extra time to accommodate the security checks and to avoid bringing large rucksacks or bags. It also has asked the public to report "anything suspicious" to festival stewards and staff, and in turn to comply "swiftly" with any requests from stewards. 

Hay Festival this year celebrates its 30th anniversary with 800 events over 10 days, in the company of high-profile names including Stephen Fry and Simon Amstell, singer Will Young, and US senator Bernie Sanders, among many others.

Security has also been stepped up at other book events. Hosting the Rathbones Folio Prize ceremony yesterday evening (24th May), the British Library had two security guards on the door and carried out a thorough bag search. A bag search was also conducted on entry to Quercus' showcase at Café de Paris this week.

The Bath Festival, which this year expects to host writers including Colm Tóibín and Sophie Hannah, said it too was also ramping up security.

C.e.o. Ian Stockley said: "The Bath Festival has undertaken a comprehensive review and has stepped up its security in light of the horrific events in Manchester this week and the UK terror threat increasing to 'critical'. We have agreed the appropriate measures with the local police and each of our venues.

"Audiences will be aware of the extra measures as they attend the different events across our many city venues. This is intended to provide the necessary reassurance whilst allowing our Bath audiences to continue to enjoy the sharing of ideas, discussions, literature and music in our events, as we celebrate the city through the arts, across this 10 day period."

Independent publishers based in Manchester have previously told The Bookseller of their sadness following the bombing at Manchester Arena on Monday night (22nd May).

Twenty-two people died and 64 were injured after suspected suicide bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, detonated a home-made device at Manchester Arena shortly after a concert by US singer Ariana Grande had finished.