Brian Sims

Government unveils detail framing Martyn’s Law to defeat terrorism

THE UK’s resilience to terrorism is to be stepped up with the Government announcing details for the Protect Duty (now to be known as ‘Martyn’s Law’ in tribute to Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside 21 other innocent bystanders during the Manchester Arena terrorist attack of 2017).

Working closely with security partners, the business sector and victims’ groups (including Martyn’s mother Figen Murray OBE and the Martyn’s Law campaign team, as well as Survivors Against Terror), the new duty will require venues to take steps to improve public safety, with measures dependent on the size of the venue and the activities taking place.

The threat picture is complex and ever evolving. Recent attacks demonstrate that terrorists may choose to target a broad range of locations. Martyn’s Law will ensure that security preparedness is delivered consistently across the UK, ensuring better protection of the public.

Tiered model

The Government’s plans have been developed following public consultation and extensive engagement across industry, charities, local authorities, security experts and with survivors. 70% of the thousands who responded to the consultation agreed that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take measures to protect the public from potential attacks.

Martyn’s Law will follow a tiered model linked to activity that takes place at a location and its capacity aimed at preventing any undue burden on businesses. A standard tier will apply to locations with a maximum capacity of over 100, which can undertake low-cost, simple and yet still effective activities to improve preparedness. This will include training, information sharing and the completion of a preparedness plan to embed practices, such as locking doors to delay attackers’ progress or knowledge on life-saving treatments that can be administered by staff while awaiting the arrival of the Emergency Services.

An enhanced tier will focus on high-capacity locations in recognition of the potential consequences of a successful attack. Locations with a capacity of over 800 people at any one time will also be required to undertake a risk assessment to inform the development and implementation of a thorough security plan.

Subsequent measures could include developing a vigilance and security culture, the implementation of physical measures like CCTV surveillance or new systems and processes to enable better consideration of security.

Inspection and enforcement

The Government will establish an inspection and enforcement regime, duly promoting compliance and positive cultural change and issuing credible and fair sanctions for serious breaches.

Dedicated statutory guidance and bespoke support will be provided by the Government to ensure those in scope can effectively discharge their responsibilities, with even small venues also able to benefit from this and take voluntary action. Expert advice, training and guidance is also already available on the online protective security hub designated ProtectUK.

Martyn’s Law will extend to – and apply right across – the whole of the UK and the Government will publish draft legislation in the early Spring to ensure the law stands the test of time.

Delivering vital legislation

Commenting on the news, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The way in which the city of Manchester came together as a community in the wake of the cowardly Manchester Arena attack, and the amazing work of campaigners like Figen Murray who have dedicated their lives to making us safer and promoting kindness and tolerance, is an inspiration to us all.”

Sunak added: “I’m committed to working with Figen to improve security measures at public venues and spaces and to delivering this vital legislation to honour Martyn’s memory and all of those affected by terrorism.”

Figen Murray responded: “Martyn’s Law isn’t going to stop terrorism, but common sense security, and making sure venues are doing all they can to keep people safe, could mean fewer suffer what myself and the families of Manchester have had to endure.”

Further, Murray stated: “I welcome the Government’s commitment to including smaller venues and working quickly on this legislation. It’s vital that we now take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others wherever possible. I also hope other countries learn from this ground-breaking legislation.”

Key responsibility

Home Secretary Suella Braverman observed: “Protecting the public from danger is a key responsibility of any Government. The terrorist threat we face is diverse and continually evolving, which is precisely why this legislation is so important.”

In addition, Braverman said: “I would like to thank Figen Murray and the Martyn’s Law campaigners for their support in the development of this vital reform. Their tireless efforts have helped to inform our approach. The heart-breaking stories from survivors and their families are a constant reminder for us all as to why we must deliver on this commitment to work together on improving public security.”

Multiple venues

The Marble Arch London Business Improvement District (BID) boasts multiple venues across its district, which will fall under the new rules being introduced by the Government.

Kay Buxton, CEO of Marble Arch London BID, said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement requiring venues and local authorities to have preventative action plans against terror attacks. Marble Arch is home to multiple venues which have a capacity of 100 or more and these destinations will now have a duty to protect under the new laws. We also welcome the Government’s tiered proposals, with responsibilities tapered against assessments of expected audience and the type of activity taking place. This provides the practical foundations from which businesses can develop their preparedness plans and ongoing training programmes.”

Buxton added: “As a BID, we already work with our hospitality and leisure venues, as well as our security partners, to ensure the district is a safe and welcoming place for all. Following the announcement that the Protect Duty will be enshrined in legislation, we will support our members to meet the new statutory framework, providing the tools and advice they need to ensure the continued safety and security for those who live or work in and visit the area.”

*Further information is available by accessing the Martyn’s Law Factsheet

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