THE GOVERNMENT has published its response to the Protect Duty public consultation, which ran from 26 February to 2 July last year. The Protect Duty has been championed by victims’ groups and the Martyn’s Law campaign, which was established by Figen Murray following the tragic loss of her son, Martyn, in the Manchester Arena terror attack in 2017.
A total of 2,755 responses were received from a variety of organisations, sectors and campaigners, with the majority supporting the Government’s proposals to introduce stronger measures, including a legal requirement for some public places to ensure preparedness for – and protection from – terrorist attacks.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “My foremost priority is keeping the people of the UK safe. Following the tragic attack at the Manchester Arena, we have worked closely with Figen Murray, victims’ groups and partners to develop proposals to improve protective security around the country. I’m grateful for their tireless commitment to the Protect Duty and those who responded to the consultation. The majority of respondents have agreed that tougher measures are needed to protect the public from harm.”
Patel added: “We will never allow terrorists to restrict our freedoms and way of life, which is why we’re committed to bringing forward legislation this year that will strike the right balance between public safety, while not placing excessive burden on small businesses.”
Implementing security measures
Currently, there’s no legislative requirement for organisations or venues to consider or employ security measures at the majority of public places. The consultation sought views from private and public sector partners on a requirement for certain publicly accessible locations to implement security measures, without placing undue burden on smaller businesses, and what support would be required from Government for this to happen.
To further support the public and private sector, the Home Office is collaborating with the National Counter-Terrorism Security Office and Pool Reinsurance to develop a new and interactive online platform. This is due to be launched publicly this year.
The site is currently undergoing user testing ahead of its formal launch. The platform will provide a central digital location for advice, guidance, e-learning and other helpful content. It will also provide support for all organisations, not just those captured by the Protect Duty.
Appropriate and proportionate
Seven in every ten respondents agree that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take appropriate and proportionate measures to protect members of the public from attacks. This includes ensuring that members of staff are trained to respond appropriately.
There’s also agreement that venue capacity should determine when the Protect Duty applies. Most respondents feel that larger organisations should be taking proportionate action to ensure people are protected. There’s an understanding that SMEs should not face the same requirements as larger venues and that all measures should be proportionate to the size of each organisation.
Very strong views have been expressed regarding the need for accountability, such as the requirement for clear roles and responsibilities, and particularly so among event organisers and those at a senior level within venues and organisations.
Half of the respondents are in favour of an inspectorate that would identify key vulnerabilities and areas for improvement, as well as share Best Practice. There’s also an even split of those who are supportive of the use of civil penalties to ensure compliance with the Protect Duty.
The Government continues to engage with a range of stakeholders and other Government departments as well as using the feedback from the consultation to further develop the legislation, which will be introduced to Parliament at the earliest opportunity.
*View the Government’s full response to the consultation online