On Monday 19th December 2022, the Government announced details for the Protect Duty, now to be known as “Martyn’s Law” in tribute of Martyn Hett who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017.
There have been 14 terror attacks in the UK since 2017. The Government believes that Martyn’s Law is necessary to keep the public safe, enhance national security and reduce the risk to the public from terrorism by the protection of public venues.
The Government believes that improving security and ensuring robust, proportionate and consistent measures at public places is necessary in light of possible future attacks.
What premises will be in the scope of the Duty?
Premises will fall within the Protect Duty scope where “qualifying activities” take place, which will include locations for purposes such as entertainment and leisure, retail, food and drink, museums and galleries, sports grounds, temporary events, visitor attractions, public areas of local and central Government buildings (e.g. Town Halls), places of worship, health, and education.
However, for the Duty to apply to a location the following three tests must be satisfied:
- That the premises is an eligible one, i.e. a building or event with a defined boundary;
- That a qualifying activity takes place at the location; and
- That the maximum occupancy of the premises meets a specified threshold (either 101 or more (Standard Tier), or 801 or more (Enhanced Tier)).
How will the Duty work?
The proposed Duty will impose a requirement on owners and operators of certain locations to increase their preparedness for and protection from a terrorist attack by requiring them to take proportionate steps, depending on the size and nature of the activities that take place there.
Proportionality is key to the Government’s model, and therefore there are two Tiers:
- A Standard Tier will require Duty holders to take simple but effective steps to meet their obligations, which will include completion of free training, awareness raising and cascading of information to staff and completion of a preparedness plan. The aim is to ensure that staff are better prepared to respond quickly to evolving situations, aware of what processes they should follow and able to make rapid decisions and take actions that could save lives. The Government mentions the locking of doors to delay attackers’ progress and access whilst guiding staff and customers to alternative exits, and enabling life-saving treatment to be administered by staff whilst awaiting the arrival of emergency services.
The Standard Tier will apply to qualifying locations with a maximum capacity of over 100, which might include larger retail stores, bars or restaurants.
- Enhanced Tier – for qualifying locations of 800 or more capacity a risk assessment and security plan, considered to a “reasonably practicable” standard will be required under the Duty.
Our understanding is that the relevant Tier is based upon potential occupancy of the location or venue, not actual occupancy at any given event, so for example a 1000-capacity venue that held a 200-person event would still risk-assess on the basis of Enhanced Tier requirements.
How will Martyn’s Law be enforced?
An inspection regime will be established to seek to educate, advise and ensure compliance with the Duty. Where necessary, the Inspectorate will use a range of sanctions to ensure that breaches are effectively dealt with.
Will Martyn’s Law apply to all of the UK?
Yes, the legislation will apply across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as national security is a reserved matter for the UK Government.
When will the Protect Duty become law?
The Government says it is not possible to give a date at the moment, but we understand draft legislation is hoped to be introduced in Spring this year, although this will need to proceed through Parliament and implementation of Martyn’s Law may take up to two years in total.
Where can I find further help and advice for my business on Martyn’s Law?
Dedicated guidance and support will be provided and a new online platform has been developed by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, Home Office and Pool Reinsurance to support everyone seeking to enhance their protective security. Protect UK will serve as the ‘go-to’ resource for free, 24/7 access to the latest information on protective security.
We will continue to keep you updated with further details as and when they become available.