There have been a number of recent developments in the legal landscape governing the UK's public security industry. To help businesses stay ahead of this rapidly changing picture, we discuss the Home Affairs Select Committee's pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill ("the Bill"), known as Martyn's Law, and explore the steps local authorities and businesses are taking now to implement some of the future security obligations which will become mandatory under the Bill.
How are councils and businesses responding to new UK safety and security standards?
Martyn's Law is a direct response to the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena in 2017, in which Martyn Hett and 21 others were killed. We participated in the Manchester Arena Inquiry, which made a series of recommendations designed to guard against future atrocities. Among these, was the introduction of a 'Protect Duty' on those responsible for publicly accessible venues and events. This duty is now enshrined in the Bill. For more information on the Protect Duty, see our earlier insight: 'Conversation with Priscilla Addo-Quaye on Martyn's Law and the future 'Protect Duty'.
Since then, the Home Affairs Select Committee published its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill. In summary:
- it raised 'serious concerns' about its proportionality, especially in relation to small businesses, voluntary and community-run organisations;
- it noted that risk may vary significantly based on the event and the person(s) attending, rather than the size of the venue, which the Bill does not currently consider.
- it also spotted that, in its current form, the Bill only makes provision for events where access is by express permission (e.g. payment or ticketed entry). It has been suggested that the Government consider expanding the Bill's scope so it covers events that do not require express permission to enter. For example, Christmas markets typically attract large crowds but are not a ticketed event and therefore do not, at present, fall within the scope of the Bill.
The introduction of Martyn's Law, which will affect a significant number of businesses and organisations across the UK, will impose a number of additional security requirements on the owners and operators of public venues and event organisers.
The UK's public security industry has faced harsh criticism in recent years, intensified by the O2 Academy Brixton incident and recent media reports of 'sham' security training courses. Whilst the introduction of Martyn's Law is hoped to ultimately increase public safety, it is not without its own issues. There is a real risk that its wide-ranging scope may financially ruin smaller, independent businesses who cannot afford to implement the same measures expected of larger, commercially run organisations. It is now a waiting game to see how the Government will respond to such concerns to make sure the Bill's provisions are proportionate.
Our specialist team is on hand to provide guidance and advice to clients to ensure they are compliant and assist in enhancing a culture which promotes and prioritises safety and security. Please reach out to the authors for further information.
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