In the latest drive by the Government to improve the UK’s resilience to terrorism, ‘Martyn’s Law’, also known as the ‘Protect Duty’, has been introduced to Parliament. The new legislation will affect a significant number of large premises across the UK, including pubs, clubs, entertainment spaces, leisure centres, sports grounds, town halls and more.

Martyn’s Law is named after Martyn Hett, one of the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017. Following the tragedy, Martyn’s family and friends have tirelessly campaigned for venues to do more to ensure the safety of visitors through improved security procedures and planning. Martyn’s legacy will now be enshrined in the form of the new counter-terrorism bill.

The bill aims to improve the safety of people attending public locations by improving preparedness and consistency of safety measures undertaken by venues in the event of future attacks, as there are currently no legislative requirements relating to the consideration or employment of security measures for public areas.

In order to prevent disproportionate burdens being placed on businesses, the new legislation will introduce a tiered system based on the activity that takes place at a venue and the venue’s capacity. Venues with a capacity of 100 people or less are not within the scope of the legislation, but they will be encouraged to adopt good security practice. 

For locations with a maximum capacity of over 100, businesses can undertake a lower cost, more simple approach to satisfy the requirements by undertaking activities such as free training and completing a preparedness plan.

For locations with a maximum capacity of over 800, more stringent requirements are to be placed. These larger premises will be obliged to undertake risk assessments to create a thorough security plan, and employ mitigation measures as necessary. Implementing the new legislation will inevitably be more costly for larger businesses and property owners, as they may be required to invest in more infrastructure and security staffing. It is unclear whether the Government will be contributing to the costs incurred by businesses increasing their safety measures. 

The Government plans to ensure compliance through an inspection and enforcement regime. In most cases, locations that do not comply will be subject to a civil monetary penalty, but in the case of very serious breaches there are limited criminal offences available. Once enshrined into law, it is anticipated that there will be a lead time to allow those captured by the new requirements to prepare.

The full extent of the obligations for businesses and property owners will be clarified when the draft legislation is published. The Government have advised that this will be available in early Spring, so we can expect this imminently.