UK venues to bear anti-terrorism obligations

A MAKESHIFT street tribute to the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing

Venues and local authorities will need to draw up preventive action plans against terror attacks under new UK-wide legislation due to be published in the early spring.

The ‘Protect Duty’ is being created by the UK Home Office to scale up preparedness for, and protection from, terrorist attacks, and will require venues to take steps to improve public safety.

The legislation has been nicknamed ‘Martyn’s law’ in memory of Martyn Hett, one of the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing, whose mother, Figen Murray, has since campaigned for venues to have better anti-terrorism plans.

The Home Office said: “The new duty will require venues to take steps to improve public safety, with measures dependent on the size of the venue and the activity taking place. 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.”

The plans have been developed after public consultation and engagement across industry, charities, local authorities, security experts ­– and with terrorism survivors. No less than 70% of people who responded to the consultation agreed that officials responsible for publicly accessible locations should take measures to protect the public from potential attacks.

 It is envisaged that the new law will follow a tiered model linked to venue and capacity, to prevent undue burden on businesses. A standard tier will apply to locations with a maximum capacity of over 100which can undertake low-cost, simple 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.

An enhanced tier will focus on high-capacity locations. Those with a capacity of over 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.

Ms Murray said: “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.

“I welcome the government’s commitment to including smaller venues and working quickly on this legislation. It is vital we now take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others wherever possible and I hope other countries learn from this groundbreaking legislation.”

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls commented: “Protecting customers and staff is a number one priority for venues, who want to ensure that the great experiences hospitality offers also come with the best possible safety and security for all.

“UKHospitality has been engaging with Government over the past year to ensure that the aims of Martyn’s Law can be achieved in a way that is proportionate and practical for venues and we’ll continue to do that throughout the legislative process. UKHospitality will continue working with members on comprehensive guidance on compliance and implementation.”