In an increasingly interconnected world, the importance of safety and security in public spaces cannot be overstated. Tragic events like terrorist attacks have highlighted the need for comprehensive measures to protect people in such environments. Martyn's Law (the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Draft Bill, named in honour of Martyn Hett, a victim of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, is a significant step forward in reducing the risk of terrorist attacks against the public. We explore the essence of Martyn's Law below and its implications.
Who was Martyn Hett?
Martyn Hett was a 29-year-old PR manager who lost his life in the Manchester Arena bombing. He was one of 22 innocent people who died in the horrific terrorist attack that took place during an Ariana Grande concert. Martyn's vibrant personality and passion for life endeared him to many, and his untimely death spurred his mother, Figen Murray, into action. She, along with other activists, pushed for the implementation of a law that would make public spaces safer for everyone.
The essence of Martyn's Law
Martyn's Law is a piece of legislation that was confirmed in the King's Speech on 7 November 2023 to be on the legislative agenda in the year ahead. The Bill is aimed at enhancing security measures in public venues such as stadiums, theatres, shopping centres, and other crowded areas. Its main objective is to improve the preparedness of these spaces to mitigate the risk of terrorist attacks and other security threats.
The two tier approach
Martyn's Law will follow a tiered approach, with the level of security measures required depending on the size and type of venue.
If the capacity of the venue is less than 100 people, it will fall outside of the scope of Martyn's Law. These premises will be encouraged to adopt the spirit of the legislation and undertake voluntary measures to reduce the risk of terrorism attacks, and it is likely, in our view, that licensing authorities will look for such measures as part of their regimes.
Tier 1 (standard tier): Applies to locations with a maximum capacity of over 100 people. These locations will be required to undertake basic security measures, such as staff training, public awareness campaigns, and the development of a preparedness plan.
Tier 2 (enhanced tier): Applies to locations with a maximum capacity of over 800 people. These locations will be required to conduct a risk assessment and develop a detailed security plan in addition to the Tier 1 measures. Those with maximum capacity of over 5,000 people or those hosting specific types of events, such as major sporting events or concerts will be subject to a more rigorous risk assessment and security planning process.
Key provisions and recommendations
1. Mandatory security assessments
One of the central elements of Martyn's Law is the requirement for venue operators to conduct and regularly update security assessments. These assessments are designed to identify vulnerabilities and address them to minimise the risk of attacks. The Home Office has created a new online platform which provides guidance on the Protect Duty [HO Protect Duty].
2. Counter-terrorism training
Venue staff should receive proper training in identifying suspicious activity and responding to threats. This includes recognising potential indicators of terrorist planning or radicalisation. This is already a requirement for those licensed under the Security Industry Authority.
3. Bag searches and metal detectors
These two practical examples of security measures are what enhanced duty premises will be expected to undertake as part of achieving what is reasonably practicable when tackling the reduction in risk of acts of terrorism occurring at a premises, or reducing the level of harm if a terrorist attack does occur. These physical security measures can deter potential attackers and provide an added layer of protection.
Procedures must be in place for the evacuation of persons from the premises or event, where it is safe and appropriate to do so.
5. Improved communication systems
Ensuring that there are robust communication systems with the emergency services in place is vital during emergencies. Venues are encouraged to have effective communication plans for both staff and visitors in case of an incident.
6. Public awareness
Raising awareness among the public about security measures and the importance of vigilance is a key aspect of Martyn's Law. Engaging with the community and fostering a sense of shared responsibility for security can be a powerful deterrent.
7. Reporting mechanisms
Establishing a system for reporting suspicious behaviour or security concerns is critical. This empowers visitors and staff to share information that could help prevent potential threats.
Implications for public spaces
Martyn's Law has far-reaching implications for public spaces. While it primarily aims to improve security, it also highlights the importance of a collaborative approach between the government, emergency and intelligence services, venue operators, and the public. Some of the key implications include:
1. Enhanced security culture
The law promotes a culture of security consciousness and preparedness in public spaces. This shift in mindset can help reduce vulnerabilities and deter potential threats.
2. Improved public confidence
With Martyn's Law in place, visitors to public spaces can feel more confident about their safety. Knowing that venues take security seriously can alleviate anxieties and enhance the overall experience.
3. Industry standards
The law sets industry standards for security, providing a framework for venue operators to follow. This consistency ensures that security measures are effective and uniform across various locations.
4. Stronger resilience
By implementing the recommendations of Martyn's Law, public spaces become more resilient to threats. Better preparedness can minimise the impact of security incidents and save lives.
Undoubtedly, there will be concerns about the additional health and safety burdens it puts on the entertainment industry. Compounding this is that the local authorities want more cash to help them implement it. However, there can be few that suggest we have a satisfactory response to terror attacks at present.
Martyn's Law is a significant step forward in enhancing security in public spaces. It serves as a tribute to Martyn Hett and all those who have tragically lost their lives in attacks on public venues. By establishing mandatory security assessments, improving staff training, and fostering a security-conscious culture, Martyn's Law aims to create safer environments for all. The importance of such legislation cannot be overstated in our world, where security and safety are paramount concerns for both individuals and communities.
How we can assist
If you believe that the passing of this Bill will affect your business or your approach to health and safety or licensing provisions (including SIA) and have any questions as to the obligations this imposes upon you, please do get in contact with Vikki Woodfine, Sarah Smith or Jack Trowsdale