Crime and safety at UK music festivals is a subject of growing concern for festival management, police and festival-goers, bolstered by increasing media coverage of incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault. To date, however, there has been limited evidence regarding festival-goers’ experiences and perspectives concerning safety, particularly in relation to gender-based violence at music festivals. Using data from a mixed methods pilot study, this article presents the findings of a self-selecting survey of 450 festival-goers which asked respondents about their perceptions of safety and experiences of different crime and harms including gender-based violence at UK music festivals. The findings reveal that most respondents report feeling safe at festivals, but various personal, social and environmental factors may increase or reduce these feelings of safety, and these are gendered. Similarly, although experiences of acquisitive crime, hate crime and stalking were low and broadly similar for women and men, a third of women experienced sexual harassment and 8% experienced sexual assault – significantly higher than the reported levels among male respondents. We argue that festivals must work proactively with key stakeholders and agencies, as well as artists and patrons, to develop clear policies and initiatives to prevent sexual violence.
Amin, A. (2015) Animated space, Public Culture, 27(2): 239–58. doi: 10.1215/0899 2363-2841844
Anderson, C. and Yeginsu, C. (2018) Tired of Sexual Assault, Music Festival for Women Stresses a ‘Safe Zone. New York Times, 1 September 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/01/world/europe/sweden-statement-festival-women.html
BBC (2018) Festivals 2018: the gender gap in music festival line-ups, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-44655719
Baillie, G., Fileborn, B., & Wadds, P. (2021) Gendered responses to gendered harms: Sexual violence and bystander intervention at Australian music festivals. Violence against women, 28(3-4):711–39. doi: 10.1177/10778012211012096
Bey, H. (1985) TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, New York: Autonomedia.
Blöbaum, A. and Hunecke, M. (2005) Perceived danger in urban public space, Environment and Behavior, 37(4): 465–86.
Bows, H. (2019) Sexual Violence Against Older People, Abingdon: Routledge.
Bows, H. and Fileborn, B. (2020) Space, place and GBV, Journal of Gender-Based Violence, 4(3): 299–307. doi: 10.1332/239868020X15983760944114
Brooks, O. (2008) Consuming alcohol in bars, pubs and clubs: a risky freedom for young women?, Annals of Leisure Research, 11(3–4): 331–50. doi: 10.1080/11745398.2008.9686801
Brooks, O. (2013) Gendered freedoms and constraints for young women socialising in bars and clubs, in T. Blackshaw (ed) Routledge Handbook of Leisure Studies, Abingdon: Routledge, pp 243–56.
CGA (2019), Your Future in Festivals: How to stand out from the crowd, accessed online at: https://cgastrategy.com/your-future-in-festivals-does-your-activation-stand-out-from-the-crowd/
Digital Music News (2018) Swedish festival bravalla is closing because of rampant sexual assaults, https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2018/06/24/swedish-bravalla-festival-sexual-assault/.
Dilkes-Frayne, E. (2015) Drugs at the campsite: socio-spatial relations and drug use at music festivals, International Journal Drug Policy, 33: 27–35. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2015.10.004
Drinkaware (2016) Sexual harassment tops list of risks for female students on nights out. Last accessed 23rd February 2022. https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/news/sexual-harassment-tops-list-of-risks-for-female-students-on-nights-out.
Edwards, A., Gilbert, J. and Skinner, J. (2003) Some Like It Hot: The Beach as a Cultural Dimension, Oxford: Meyer & Meyer Sport.
Fileborn, B. (2016a) Reclaiming the Night-Time Economy: Unwanted Sexual Attention in Pubs and Clubs, London: Springer.
Fileborn, B. (2016b) Doing gender, doing safety? Young adults’ production of safety on a night out, Gender, Place and Culture, 23(8): 1107–20. doi: 10.1080/0966369X. 2015.1090413
Fileborn, B., Wadds, P. and Tomsen, S. (2019) Safety, sexual harassment and assault at Australian music festivals: final report. Sydney: University of Sydney. http://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:60426/binc88c544e-a18d-478c-853a-0fcb7d06dcd2?view=true&xy=01
Fileborn, B., Wadds, P. and Tomsen, S. (2020) Sexual harassment and violence at Australian music festivals: reporting practices and experiences of festival attendees, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 53(2): 194–212.
Green, E. (1998) ‘Women doing friendship’: an analysis of women’s leisure as a site of identity construction, empowerment and resistance, Leisure Studies, 17(3): 171–85 doi: 10.1080/026143698375114
Griffin, C., Szmigin, I., Bengry-Howell, A., Hackley, C. and Mistral, W. (2013) Inhabiting the contradictions: hypersexual femininity and the culture of intoxication among young women in the UK, Feminism and Psychology, 23(2): 184–206. doi: 10.1177/0959353512468860
Gunby, C., Carline, A., Taylor, S. and Gosling, H. (2020) Unwanted sexual attention in the Night-time economy: behaviors, safety strategies, and conceptualizing ‘feisty femininity’, Feminist Criminology, 15(1): 24–46. doi: 10.1177/1557085119865027
Hill, R.L., Hesmondhalgh, D. and Megson, M. (2020) Sexual violence at live music events: experiences, responses and prevention, International Journal of Cultural Studies, 23(3): 368–84. doi: 10.1177/1367877919891730
Hirsch, A. (2018) London clubs and racism: ‘the West End is a hostile environment’, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/04/london-clubs-and-racism-the-west-end-is-a-hostile-environment.
Hollaback (2014) Cornell international survey on street harassment, https://www.ihollaback.org/cornell-international-survey-on-street-harassment/.
Hubbard, P. and Colosi, R. (2012) Sex, crime and the city: municipal law and the regulation of sexual entertainment, Social & Legal Studies, 22(1): 67–86.
Jayne, M., Valentine, G., and Holloway, S. L. (2010) Emotional, embodied and affective geographies of alcohol, drinking and drunkenness. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35(4): 540–54.
Kempa, M. and Singh, A.M. (2008) Private security, political economy and the policing of race: probing global hypothesis through the case of South Africa, Theoretical Criminology, 12(3): 333–54. doi: 10.1177/1362480608093310
Livingstone, K. and Hart, J. (2003) The wrong arm of the Law? Public images of private security, Policing and Society, 13(2): 159–70. doi: 10.1080/10439460308027
London Assembly (2016) Crime on public transport, March, https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/crime_on_public_transport.pdf.
McCormack, M., Measham, F., and Wignall, L. (2021) The normalization of leisure sex and recreational drugs: Exploring associations between polydrug use and sexual practices by English festival-goers. Contemporary Drug Problems, 48(2): 185–200. doi: 10.1177/00914509211009901
McKay, G. and Webster, E. (2016) From Glyndebourne to Glastonbury: The Impact of British Music Festivals, Swindon: Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC)/UEA
Measham, F. (2002) ‘Doing gender’ – ‘doing drugs’: conceptualising the gendering of drugs cultures, Contemporary Drug Problems, 29(2): 335–73. doi: 10.1177/009145 090202900206
Measham, F. and Brain, K. (2005) ‘Binge’ drinking, British alcohol policy and the new culture of intoxication, Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, 1(3): 263–84. doi: 10.1177/1741659005057641
Measham, F. and Hadfield, P. (2009). Everything Starts with an’E’: Exclusion, ethnicty and elite formation in contemporary English clubland. Adicciones, 21(4): 363–86.
Mintel (2018) UK music concerts and festivals industry report 2018, https://store.mintel.com/uk-music-concerts-and-festivals-market-report.
O’Dougherty, M. (2006) Public relations, private security: managing youth and race at the Mall of America, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 24(1): 131–54.
ONS (Office for National Statistics) (2018a) Sexual offences in England and Wales: year ending March 2017, https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/sexualoffencesinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2017#which-groups-of-people-are-most-likely-to-be-victims-of-sexual-assault.
ONS (Office for National Statistics) (2018b) Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2018, https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/domesticabuseinenglandandwales/yearending-march2018#prevalence-of-domestic-abuse.
ONS (Office for National Statistics) (2018c) Crime January 2018, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/676118/Crime_Jan_2018.pdf.
ONS (Office for National Statistics) (2020) Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2020: crime in England and Wales: annual trend and demographic tables, https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2020.
OMMB (Our Music My Body) (2017) Our music my body campaign and survey report, https://www.ourresilience.org/get-involved/ourmusicmybody/.
Pain, R. (1991) Space, sexual violence and social control: integrating geographical and feminist analyses of women’s fear of crime, Progress in Human Geography, 15(4): 415–31. doi: 10.1177/030913259101500403
Pielichaty, H. (2015) Festival space: gender, liminality and the carnivalesque, International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 6(3): 235–50. doi: 10.1108/IJEFM-02-2015-0009
Police Scotland (2019) Personal safety [online], https://www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/personal-safety/festival-safety.
Powers, R.A. and Leili, J. (2018) Bar training for active bystanders: evaluation of a community-based bystander intervention program, Violence Against Women, 24(13): 1614–34. doi: 10.1177/1077801217741219
Rose, G. (1993) Feminism & geography: The limits of geographical knowledge, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Sheard, L. (2011) ‘Anything could have happened’: women, the night-time economy, alcohol and drink spiking, Sociology, 45(4): 619–33. doi: 10.1177/0038038511406596
SPA Future Thinking (2014) Safety and Security Annual report 2013/14, London: SPA, http://content.tfl.gov.uk/safety-and-security-annual-report-2013–14.pdf.
Stanko, E. (1990) Everyday Violence: How Men and Women Experience Sexual and Physical Danger. London: Pandora.
Stanko, E.A. (1995) Women, crime, and fear, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 539(1): 46–58. doi: 10.1177/0002716295539001004
Statista (2016) Gender profile of Festival-goers in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2012 to 2016 [online], https://www.statista.com/statistics/282836/gender-distribution-of-visitors-to-uk-music-festivals/).
Stone, C. (2009). The British pop music festival phenomenon, in Ali-Knight, J., Robertson, M., Fyall, A., and Ladkin, A (eds) International perspectives of festivals and events: Paradigms of analysis, London: Routledge, pp 205–224.
Szmigin, I., Bengry-Howell, A., Morey, Y., Griffin, C. and Riley, S. (2017) Socio-spatial authenticity at co-created music festivals, Annals of Tourism Research, 63: 1–11. doi: 10.1016/j.annals.2016.12.007
Turner, T. and Measham, F. (2019) Into the woods: contextualising atypical intoxication by young adults in music festivals and nightlife tourist resorts, in D. Conroy and F. Measham (eds) Young Adult Drinking Styles: Current Perspectives on Research, Policy and Practice, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 87–114.
UK Music (2017) UK live music attendance and music tourism in 2017, https://www.ukmusic.org/assets/general/Live_Music.pdf.
Van Steden, R. and Nalla, M. (2010) Citizen satisfaction with private security guards in the Netherlands: perceptions of an ambiguous occupation, European Journal of Criminology, 7(3): 214–34. doi: 10.1177/1477370809359264
Vera-Gray, F. (2016) Men’s Intrusion, Women’s Embodiment: A Critical Analysis of Street Harassment, Abingdon: Routledge.
Vera-Gray, F. (2018) The Right Amount of Panic: How women trade freedom for safety in public, Bristol: Policy Press.
Waitt, G., Jessop, L. and Gorman-Murray, Q. (2011) ‘The guys in there just expect to be laid’: embodied and gendered socio-spatial practices of a ‘night out’ in Wollongong, Australia, Gender, Place & Culture, 18(2): 255–75. doi: 10.1080/0966369X.2010.551651
Yang, E.C.L., Khoo-Lattimore, C. and Arcodia, C. (2017) A systematic literature review of risk and gender research in tourism, Tourism Management, 58: 89–100. doi: 10.1016/j.tourman.2016.10.011
YouGov (2018) Two in five young female festival-goers have been subjected to unwanted sexual behaviour [online], https://yougov.co.uk/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2018/06/21/two-five-young-female-festival-goers-have-been-sub.
|May 2022 onwards||Past Year||Past 30 Days|
|Full Text Views||1109||783||85|