Martyn’s Law: Government publishes draft legislation

The Government has published its draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, known as Martyn’s Law, which outlines counter-terrorism considerations required for events taking place at venues across the UK.

The draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill sets out the requirements that, under Martyn’s Law, venues and other organisations will have to meet to ensure public safety. ‘Martyn’s Law’ is a tribute to Martyn Hett who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017.

The draft bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by the Home Affairs Select Committee, ahead of formal introduction.

In December 2022, the government announced that Martyn’s Law will introduce a tiered model for certain locations depending on the capacity of the premises or event and the activity taking place, to prevent unnecessary burden to business. The legislation will ensure venues are prepared for, and ready to respond in the event of, an attack.

First, a standard tier will apply to locations and venues with a maximum capacity of more than 100 which can undertake low-cost, simple yet effective activities to improve preparedness. This will include training, information sharing and completion of a preparedness plan to embed practices, such as locking doors to delay attackers progress or knowledge on lifesaving treatments that can be administered by staff whilst awaiting emergency services.

Secondly, there will be an enhanced tier that will focus on high-capacity locations and venues in recognition of the potential consequences of a physical terrorist attack. Locations and venues with a capacity of more than 800 people at any time, will additionally 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, implementation of physical measures like CCTV or new systems and processes to enable better consideration of security.

Significant step

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said: “The threat from terrorism is enduring. In recent years, we have seen terrorists target the public at a broad range of locations, causing deaths and casualties amongst innocent people going about their everyday lives.

“This is a significant step forward for Martyn’s Law and our ability to further protect the public. I welcome the committee’s scrutiny to ensure that this legislation is proportionate while enhancing our national security.

Figen Murray (pictured), mother of Martyn Hett, said: “Today is an important step forward to a safer country. Martyn’s Law will end the ridiculous situation where venues have legal obligations for how many toilets they have but no obligation to keep their customers protected.

“Of course, Martyn’s Law won’t stop all terror attacks, but it will make crowded places better protected and prepared, and make the terrorists’ job that bit harder.

“Almost six years after the Manchester Arena attack it’s now critical this bill is passed into law as quickly as possible and in the strongest form possible.”

The government has underlined it is committed to working closely with businesses and other stakeholders to ensure this legislation is proportionate whilst also being effective. Dedicated guidance and support will be provided to ensure those in scope can meet their responsibilities. ProtectUK already hosts a range of expert advice, training, and guidance.

Martyn’s Law will extend to and apply across the whole of the United Kingdom and has been developed following extensive consultation with the public, businesses and campaign groups. The significant majority agree that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take measures to protect the public from potential attacks.

ICC Wales, a major UK venue located near Newport, Wales launched a report in 2022 exploring how the Protect Duty would benefit events and analysed sentiment and preparedness from the wider events industry.

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